“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.
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.”