A young photographer’s intimate look at the lifestyles of the Latin Kings by Loubna Mrie

I was new here and I didn’t even know how to take the subway,” Nicolas Enriquez, a photographer and native of Colombia, tells Quartz. “I googled ‘most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City,’ and everything started from there.”

Shot in Brooklyn and the Bronx in 2014, Enriquez’s project The Bloodline offers a rare look inside the daily lives of members of one of the biggest gangs in the United States: the Latin Kings.

“Smokey and B-rad play in the street, they’ve been friends since they were kids, B-rad was incarcerated for more than one year and will be released in 2 months,” he writes of two of his subjects. “B-Rad’s wife and Smokey had to take care of his kid during this period of time.” His unusual access to the gang members is both empathetic and disturbing—in one image, the camera lens faces directly down the barrel of a newly-acquired gun.

"Murder" holds a gun that he bought for $250 in the street. He says he bought it after members of a rival gang stabbed one of his friends in the neck.“Murder” holds a gun that he bought for $250 in the street. He says he bought it after members of a rival gang stabbed one of his friends in the neck.

Enriquez,  21, spent six months working on this project. He describes the teenage members of the criminal group as having made “a survival decision.” “Joining a gang is never an easy decision,” says Enriquez. “But they were damaged and weak, so they agreed to join whoever offered support, help or a hand. It is hard when everyone is looking at you, expecting you to fail and treating you as a criminal before even committing anything wrong.”

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.Gang member Teflon getting ready to start a freestyle session of rap at an apartment in Brooklyn. Music is a big part of the gang life and many gang members follow the steps of different musicians to try to achieve the dream of becoming an influential artist.

"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/NYCGang member “Looney” yells as he’s looking for rival gang members “Trinitarios” in a Brooklyn subway station.

Graffiti tags of gang members from different gangs inside the elevator of a project building in Bushwick-Brooklyn.Graffiti tags of different gangs inside the elevator of a low-income housing structure in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

view at night of a poject building in Brooklyn-NY, where most of gang members usually live since them and their families get pushed by gentrification to look fr more affordable living spaces.The view at night of a low-income housing project in Brooklyn, where many gang members live.

Several Latin Kings members enjoying a playful time outside one of te project building in Brooklyn.Several Latin Kings members enjoying a playful time outside one of their apartment building in Brooklyn.

(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.Left to right: King Looney, King Chucho, King Smokey and King Buckets rest at home after a long day meeting with other gang members, smoking some marijuana and drinking beer.

Looking outside from the window to see if there is any man-down outside the building, Man-down is the way they call police officers.Looking outside the window to see if there is a “man-down” outside the building. “Man-down” is their term for police officers.

Gang members and friends mourn the dead of Simbaa who died after being stabbed 20 times on the chest in Williamsburg-Brooklyn. dead 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.Gang members and friends mourn the dead of Simbaa, who died after being stabbed 20 times on the chest in Williamsburg.

Karens 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.Kirell sleeps at his home in Bushwick, where his uncle “Smokey” also lives. Smokey wants Kirell to join the gang when he grows up.

Smokey walks towards one of the new 24 hour reflectors that the NYPD put near his home in Brooklyn.Smokey walks home in Brooklyn.

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.Blask’s hand was cut with a broken bottle during a fight with members of rival gang Trinitarios.

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.Street-level drug dealing is the main source of income of the gang. A large percentage of their transactions come from the homeless and users in the immediate community.

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