The Bloodline

Nicolas Enriquez

2013 - 2015

New York, United States

The Bloodline is a chapter designated by the gang of the Latin Kings to the State of New York. The Latin Kings is one of the largest and most organized gangs in America with more than 35,000 active members.

This Photo Essay focuses on documenting not only the extreme life conditions for the majority of gang members but also the relation between gang members and society. It explores the intimacy and naivety of teenagers who have been pushed by their economic status, racial or social issues to survive in a hostile environment in one of the most developed cities in the world. It also draws attention to the happiness, unity and respect they show each other and the importance of the family and religion in their lives.

As a Colombian, I am aware of the political and social situations of my country, and am familiar with the culture and their way of life. I am drawn to people who have to live in extreme conditions, and the risks they take to be capable of maintaining their economic status. The stressors behind why they create or get involved in gangs and what their purpose is. In my work I endeavor to show my point of view of social and cultural issues, often referencing South and Latin American urban conflicts such as drug dealing, narco-traffic, gangs and corruption.

I feel inspired by the efforts of these teenagers seeking for a community that understands them and supports them, and how they find the answer to this questions in Gangs, a community that forces them to juggle between being a teenager and surviving in the concrete jungle.

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  • Karen's baby, Kirell, sleeps at his home in the Bushwick projects, place that he shares with his uncle “Smokey” he rules this neighborhood for the Latin King Nation and wants Kirell to be part of the gang when he grows up.

  • (from left to right) "King Looney", "King Chucho", "King Smokey" and "King Buckets" rest in their apartments after a long day at a meeting with other gang members, smoking some marijuana and drinking beer.

  • "Teflon" shows the table where he has displayed a gun laying on top of a Bible, several bullets, a balance for drugs and a book of the law of attraction, drug dealing and violence are part of the daily live of gang members in New York.

  • Demetrius smokes a joint of marijuana at his apartment in Brooklyn, Demetrius was released from jail 1 month ago after spending 3 years incarcerated.

  • "Blask" got his hand cut with a broken bottle during a fight with members from an enemy gang called the Trinitarios, these kind of injuries are common between gang members since fights quickly escalate from fists to razor blades, knives and guns.

  • Street level drug dealing is the main source of income of the gang, a large base of their transactions come from the homeless and users in the immediate community.

    In the photo a drug deal of marijuana happens in one of the upper floors of the housing building, trying to avoid security cameras in the lobby and outside the building.

  • Gang members and friends mourn the dead of "Simbaa" who died after being stabbed 20 times on the chest in Williamsburg-Brooklyn. death has become something familiar to gang members, memorial ceremonies and visits to the hospital are common and they always live with the fear of who is gonna be the next one.

  • Latin Kings meet at one of the headquarters of the gangs in Bushwick, monthly meeting often take place at parks or abandoned houses. Amor de Rey, "King Love", is what they yell while listening to one of the leaders give instructions to the gang.

  • "B-Rad" hides in the corner of his apartment because police officers and members from an enemy gang were looking for him, he was part of a shooting on the second floor of his building, during the shoot he was shot on the leg and now he can't leave his house because of gang retaliation.

  • (left to right) "Poppa", "Teflon" pose for a photo taken inside their apartment in Bushwick Brooklyn, "Teflon" is a member of the Bloods gang and is now in prison for missing court dates.

  • "Smokey" walks down the street while taking his shirt off before trying to fight some other gang members from a rival gang called the Trinitarios.

  • Isis looks outside the window for mandown coming into the building, mandown is the way they call NYPD police officers. The Latin Kings is one of the first gangs in America to include women as part of the gang and they're called Queens.

  • “Flash” after smoking marijuana, one of the things that Latin Kings do the most is hang out and smoke.

  • “Looney”,active member of the Nation yells “amor de rey” king love at his group while they're looking for “Trinitarios” members from an enemy gang in a subways station. Brooklyn/NYC

  • "Smokey", leader of the south-side Latin Kings gang in Brooklyn poses for a photo while drinking a beer inside one of the housing projects in Brooklyn.

  • Karen, mother of Kirell and aunt of Smokey looks at her phone wile watching TV inside her apartment in Brooklyn.

  • "Smokey" lights up a marijuana cigarette while seating in his room at the Bushwick housing projects, "Smokey" is the leader of the South-Side tribe of the Latin Kings gangs in Brooklyn and he tries to keep his people from smoking anything else that is not marijuana because he wants them to be able to protect the hood at any time.

  • View of Manhattan at night from the top of one of the building at the Bushwick housing projects in Brooklyn.

  • A distant family is one of the main reasons why teenagers join gangs, The lack of support and understanding pushes teenagers to seek for a community that will help them and they find the answer to this questions in gangs.

  • "Teflon" getting ready to start a freestyle session of rap at an apartment in Brooklyn, music is a big part of the gang life, a lot of gang members follow the steps of different musicians and try to achieve the dream of becoming an influential artist.
    the lyrics in majority of the songs try to describe different chapters of their life, their aspirations, women and the situations they get involved because of their lifestyle.

  • Gangs have their own security systems to keep themselves safe from other gangs or police officers, gang members are selected to stand outside the projects, patrol the area and communicate the gang if there's is anything suspicious.

  • "Murder" hold a gun that he bought for $250 in the street, he bought it after guys from another gang stabbed one of his friends in the neck.

  • "Blask" looking outside the window after a fight was about to start downstairs, several friends of "Blask" rushed into the fight and he had to stay to take care of the apartment.

  • "living in the hood is like living in prison" quote of "Smokey" when I was taking this photograph, the high security surrounding the housing projects to keep them safe makes business hard for the gang.

  • “From here I can shoot the J train” is what “B-Rad” said to his brother in law “Smokey”."B-Rad" is not a Latin King, he is a member of the “Ysquad” Gang that rules a small neighborhood in Brooklyn.

  • View of one of the project buildings located in the Bushwick housing projects. this building located in the heart of Bushwick are home for several gangs including the Latin Kings, YSquad and Bloods. the building are always patrolled by NYPD officers and security cameras.

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