Who are the Latin Kings? The international narco gang that has terrorised Barcelona for years – as major crackdown THIS WEEK sees 30-plus members arrested and 13 properties raided

THE Guardia Civil have arrested 32 members of a notorious Barcelona street gang as part of ‘Operation Kamaleones’ as authorities look to crack down on the region’s extensive criminal networks.

Some 13 properties were raided at dawn on Tuesday morning as part of a coordinated police operation against the ‘Latin Kings’, a violent international street gang originally formed by Puerto Ricans in Chicago in the 1950s.

Properties were targeted in key Catalan towns and cities including Camp de Tarragona, Reus, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Rubi y Granollers, Cunit, Segur de Calafell and the Barcelona metropolitan area.

A Latin Kings symbol

Over 30 alleged members of the gang were arrested on suspicion of offences including drug trafficking, murder, robbery, and belonging to a criminal organisation.

The dawn raids were the result of ‘Operation Kamaleones’, a joint effort between the Guardia Civil and other local forces which has worn on since 2021.

Who are the Latin Kings?

Formed in Chicago in the 1950s, the Latin Kings arrived on Spain’s shores in 2000 after many members, mainly of Latin American heritage, were deported from the United States as part of a crackdown on the group’s notorious violence.

A wave of immigration from Latin America included key figures such as the gang’s first leader, Erik Velastegui, known as King Wolverine.

Originally based in Madrid, Spain’s capital, the group has a sophisticated network of operations which includes branches in Barcelona, Valencia and Murcia.

In 2003, Velastegui, who is of Ecuadorian descent, was arrested for rape and received a 40-year prison sentence, extended for four additional years after prosecutors discovered that he was continuing to direct the gang’s activities from his cell.

The Latin Kings were officially registered as a cultural association in Catalunya in 2006, and have since continued to grow as more Latin Americans and Spaniards join its ranks. 

Oscar Peralt, known as Baby White, is the former Latin Kings leader who has since turned to a life of preaching about the dangers of gang life

In 2015, Catalunya’s Mossos d’Esquadra arrested 23 members suspected of organised crime membership, drug trafficking, assault and extortion – that same year, five key Madrid-based members were deported.

A year later it was revealed that a Catalan youth, Oscar Peralt, also known as Baby White, had been crowned as the supreme leader of the Latin Kings in an elaborate ceremony in Barcelona that was attended by figures including the gang’s New York chief, King Tone.

However, Peralt was later arrested and has since spent his time warning others of the risks of being lured into gang culture.

Whilst on conditional release, the former leader has given speeches and presentations to youngsters across Spain, urging them to steer away from a life of crime. 

Members are known to display the gang’s colours – gold and black – and have tattoos of symbols such as a five-pointed crown.

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