Colors: Black, Red, Green
Ethnicity: African American
Symbols: Five Pointed Star, Pyramid w/21 bricks and 3rd Eye, Cobra Snake, 4 Point Crown, Flail, Crook
Aliases: MCs, MCN, Almighty Kingdom of Mickey Cobras, Snakes, Mics
Previously Known As: Egyptian Cobras, Egyptian King Cobras, Cobra Stones
Factions/Renegade Offshoots: Dogg Pound, Pimp Palace, Outlaws
Founder: Henry Mickey Cogwell
The Mickey Cobras (MCs) trace their lineage to the Egyptian Cobras (ECs), a gang that originated on Chicago’s Near West Side in the early 1950s. In their second identity, the gang became the Cobra Stones. After their leader Mickey Cogwell was slain on February 25th, 1977, the gang adopted the moniker, Mickey Cobras. Egyptian Cobras formed in an area dubbed “Jew Town,” near Roosevelt & Maxwell in 1954.
In the late 1950s, the principle rival of the Cobras were the Vice Lords. Though other West Side gangs, such as the Clovers, Imperial Chaplains and Roman Saints were prominent in the area, the VLs were the predominant force by 1959. The Cobras controlled territory in West Garfield Park and Lawndale, collectively known as K-Town. At its height, the gang controlled Madison to Cermak, and Kostner to Pulaski. By the late 1950s, the Cobras had a presence on the South Side. They operated principally within the Kenwood, Oakland, Hyde Park, and Washington Park communities, as well as the Robert Taylor Homes.
The Egyptian Cobras can be viewed as one of the oldest living Chicago street gang, although the group has undergone several identities since their inception. The gang originated on Chicago's west side in about 1954 in an area known as "Jew Town", near the business intersection of W Roosevelt Rd. to W Maxwell St. and Halsted. Shortly after the Cobras emerged, members moved to the Lawndale community and set up operations there. The gang began as a "humbugging" (brawling) club in the west side slums. Their initial enemy was the Clovers, who were based in the "K-Town" section of the west side, near the intersection of W 16th Street and S Pulaski Ave. The Clovers were a major force on the west side, however they were an aging gang. The gang more than likely had been in existence since the 1940s. The Clovers were challenged fiercely by the Egyptian Cobras and were eventually forced into retirement by them. The gang also fought other aging gangs in the Lawndale community, such as the Imperial Chaplains and El Commandoes. However, in the late 50s, a new enemy would present a vital threat to the Egyptian Cobras: the Vice Lords. The Vice Lords set up operations in Lawndale in 1958, and based their main operation on the corner of W 16th Street and S Lawndale Ave. The gangs fought a vicious war for the Lawndale community, with the Vice Lords eventually gaining significant territory east of Pulaski Ave. The Cobras were a particular stylish gang, wearing sweaters, capes, and "cloth" wrapped around their heads, styled after the headwear of the ancient Egyptians. The gang was also particularly violent, and were one of the first gangs to regularly employ the use of firearms -in addition to zip-guns, pipes, bats, chains, and other traditional weapons- in gang warfare.
It is unclear who founded the Egyptian Cobras, but we know that by the late 50s, an individual known as "Crazy Horse" was the reputed leader of the Lawndale Egyptian Cobras. During the early 60s, the Cobras set up operations on the city's south side. This faction of Egyptian Cobras would fall under the leadership of James "Pony" Cogwell. This an important notation, for Pony was the uncle of future Cobra leader, and Chicago gangland legend, Henry "Mickey Cobb" Cogwell. Despite an early reputation of violence and brawling, the Egyptian Cobras began to decline in operation dramatically on the west side by the mid 60s. This is primarily due to the growth of and challenging by the Vice Lords, who had established many branches and factions, absorbing and aligning with rivals of the Egyptian Cobras. Nevertheless, the Cobras still presented enough of a presence for private founders to donate money to the gang, which was used to open a carwash and gas station in Lawndale.
Meanwhile, on the south side, the gang was thriving in area of the city known as the "blackbelt", in the Robert Taylor Homes projects, along with sets in the Oakland-Kenwood, and Bronzeville neighborhoods. Under Pony Cogwell, the gang grew at a sufficient pace, taking on many rivals and even engaging in narcotics sells. However, Pony was killed in 1961. Acording to sources, Henry “Johnny Ringo” Ponder assumed leadership. In February 1962, Ponder was arrested for murdering a tailor store owner in an alleged robbery. Several other members of the gang were indicted on a slew of related charges. Then, Henry “Mickey Cobb” Cogwell assumed leadership of the gang. Another gang, called the King Cobras, operated in the Oakland-Kenwood community, exercising a presence in the Lakefront Homes. The gang had recently gained a reputation by eliminating the Deacons presence in those particular high rise housing projects. At a meeting, the King Cobras agreed to merge with the south side Egyptian Cobras, as both organization adopted the moniker Egyptian King Cobras. The entire "Cobra Nation" fell under the leadership of Cogwell's nephew, Mickey, in about 1963. Mickey had an incredible charisma and leadership qualities that would allow the Cobras to flourish and gain political connections throughout the city. During the same period, Jeff Fort and Eugene Hairston's Blackstone Rangers street gang was growing in notoriety. In the mid-1960s, Fort made a proposal to Cogwell- an alliance. Cogwell accepted and transformed his gang to the Cobra Stones, falling under the umbrella of the Almighty (or Mighty) Black P-Stone Rangers Nation. This would signal a new identity, beginning, and evolution for the Cobras. Soon afterward Eugene Hairston went to prison and lost his position in the nation making Jeff Fort the chief. Jeff Fort and Mickey Cogwell had a tight relationship and Cogwell was also heavily liked within the BPSN. Mickey Cogwell became a main spokesman for the BPSN and their activities.
In 1969 when Fort was asked to meet President Nixon, Fort sent Cogwell and another Stone member to meet Nixon instead. In the late 60s the BPSN raised over a million dollars in government funding that was later proven in 1972 to have been mostly used for illegal endeavors. Cogwell himself was responsible for raising $927,000 from the U.S. office of Economic Opportunity.
In the early 70s, Leonard Lucas, who had once been an Egyptian Cobra leader, formed an activist group called Community of United People (C.O.U.P.). The group served as “an umbrella group actively involved in improving the lives of people in an area filled with urban renewal projects and University of Illinois Circle Campus construction and expansion” (Chicago Tribune, Jun 15th, 1972; pg. W2).
In July 1970, the Cobra Stones in cooperation with the Blacks and Deuces Wild, fatally wounded two Chicago policemen with sniper shots at the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Charged and convicted of the killings were: Sidney Bennett Jr., George C. Knight, Johnnie Veal, and Vernon R. Baker. Knight was identified as a leader of the Deuces Wild, while Veal was identified as a leader of the Cobra Stones. The incident was not the first of its kind in Cabrini, but for the Cobras, it gained them citywide notoriety.
Starting in 1970 the Police had been monitoring Cogwell for suspicion of defrauding the government of the $927,000. Later in 1972 the government closed in on Cogwell and the whole BPSN and leaders like Cogwell and Fort were charged. In about 1976 Jeff Fort was released from prison, At this time, he changed the gang's name to El Rukns, and adpted a quasi Islamic doctrine based off the Moorish Science Temple. While Fort and Cogwell were out of prison, they began to organize the organization even more. Cogwell began to organize unions for McDonald’s workers or other workers in fast food for the equal treatment of employees. In the process, it was said that Cogwell was working in organized crime territory, which may have caused problems for the BPSN. Cogwell also wanted to steer the BPSN towards political activity, and Fort did not want to go that direction yet. These two reasons could be why Cogwell was killed. A main reason that it was believed he was killed was how Cogwell openly objected at the new El Rukns doctrines Jeff Fort established in 1976. No one was allowed to oppose the new El Rukn name and Islamic doctrines and it was said that Cogwell openly spoke out at the meeting. The penalty for such an action was death (even though Cogwell spoke out against this the MCs ended adopting Islamic doctrines anyway). On February 25, 1977 Mickey Cogwell was killed by unknown assailants. The Cobra Stones blamed the El Rukns for killing him and said Jeff fort ordered the hit, this caused a war between the El Rukns and the Cobras. In order to honor Cogwell the Cobra Stones changed their name to the Mickey Cobras. In 1977 Theotis Clark “Emperor Thee” became the new leader of the MCN.
In the mid-1980's, Mickey Cogwell's son, Prince Money (legal name) Brown organized a group of Cobras and proclaimed himself "king" of the nation. However, other high ranking Cobras disagreed with this decree and told Brown not to make this claim any longer. This angered Brown, who retaliated at first by forming a "renegade offshoot" group of Cobras, who adopted a four pointed star, which was linked to the original Egpytian Cobras' four point crown. When he received little fanfare from this, his group actually flipped Gangster Disciples (c1994). He was later arrested in the early 1990's for armed robbery and is said to have flipped back MC while currently serving time in prison.
Another noted occurence for the MCs was when certain individuals in the Cabrini-Green housing project attempted to break away from the gang to form the King Cobras. The original King Cobras (from the Oakland-Kenwood neighborhood) --who merged with the Egyptian Cobras in the early 1960s-- were actually led by Theotis Clark, who was promoted to "emperor" of the entire Cobra Nation after Cogwell was killed. In fact, the Blackstone Rangers had put a hit out on Clark and were in an intesne war with the King Cobras for control of the project buildings along Lake Park Avenue. Even after the merger, Clark's group continued to be identited as King Cobras, despite the fact that Cogwell's group had aligned with the Blackstones. During the time that this renegade King Cobra break away faction rested control of Cabrini Green, a respected Cobra named Charlie Smith was summoned to "deal with them." He was able to get the group to rejoin the MCN in a short time. In an interesting note, Smith had allegedly ordered the shooting of rival gang members, who were shot at from a high-rise sniper, which resulted in the killing a young child named Dantrel Davis. This murder sparked outrage throughout the city and resulted in a "gang truce" among the black gangs, which was short lived.
In the late 1990s the MCs were known for selling one of the purest brands on heroin in the city. Their drug dealing tactics finally caught up with them and street leader Cornell “King Cornbread” Green was sentenced to 30 years in prison for running a multimillion dollar drug enterprise from 1993 to 2001, which stemmed from a DEA investigation.
In the early 2000s, the headquarters for the Mickey Cobras, three 18-story high rises in the Robert Taylor Homes known as “the Hole,” were cleared . The buildings were later razed. Also, the building(s) that they controlled in Cabrini-Green was cleared and later, demolished. This along with the prosecution of Green put a serious dent in the gang's drug profit.
In May 2002, Clarence Hankton, Greg Davis and six other co-conspirators were charged in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. Hankton signed a plea agreement in which he admitted distributing to possessing and intent to distribute cocaine. Hankton was in control of the Cabrini-Green projects at the time and held the rank of "King," while Davis controlled a portion of the Lathrop Homes and held the rank of "Sultan Supreme." Both received lengthy federal prison sentences. In June 2006, 47 members of the Mickey Cobras were arrested as a result of a seven year investigation named Operation Snakebite. The gang marketed the heroin under names such as “reaper,” “lethal injection,” “drop dead,” “final call” and “girls gone wild.” They also were selling crack cocaine, marijuana, and fentanyl. Fentanyl laced heroin was to blame for the overdose at least 5 people, authorities alleged. James Austin, 29, ran the operation. He held the rank of “king” and the drug dealing occurred in the Dearborn Homes. A Chicago police officer, Tashika Sledge, also participated in aiding the Cobras.
Bases of Operation: Former Egyptian Cobra sets included: the "K-Town" community in Lawndale (Roosevelt Rd.-Cermak, Pulaski Ave.-to-Kostner Ave.), the area known as "Jew Town" (Roosevelt-14th & Maxwell St.), the Wentworth Gardens housing projects, and former King Cobra/Egyptian King Cobras area of operation was in the Oakland-Kenwood neighborhood. It appears Robert Taylor Homes was the first set on the south side, the gang maintained a presence there from the early 1960s until their three buildings were razed in 1999. The Dearborn Homes became the new "headquarters" after the Cabrini Green and Roebrt Taylor Homes buildings were razed along with the area known as "Princeton" (Fuller Park) in which the gang controls South Princeton Avenue from 43rd to Garfield Blvd. The second major operation was on the north side in the Cabrini Green homes, where they controlled two buildings near Division & Sedgwick. After these buildings were razed, members relocated to a private apartment building, known as the Marshall Field Apartments, where they contended with an already entrenched Black P. Stone set. They also have some influence in the Lathrop Homes as well as a very small contigent in Uptown. The MCs have a heavy presence in Woodlawn, where they are known for sharing territory with the Black P. Stones and Four Corner Hustlers. The gang was dominant an area in Roseland called "the Hill" on South Michigan Avenue, from 111th to 115th Street, though much of this turf has been taken over by Black P. Stones. It fits within an overall area known as "Al-amin Ville", controlled by all black Brothers/People gangs. They also have a small contingent in Englewood as well as Washington Park, where they share territory with Black Disciples. The gang is additionally strong in South Shore, specifically around the area of 73rd & Jeffery, as it is one of its oldest and more well reputed sets. MCs don't control any one high school have a nice size of members at South Shore H.S., Tilden H.S., DuSable H.S., Phillips H.S. and Calumet H.S.
Hierarchy: Mickey Cobras refer to Henry Cogwell as the "Chief." After his death, Theotis Clark assumed leadership of the gang and eventually was anointed with the rank of "Emperor." Once incarcerated ,the leader of the streets became the "King." Beneath him are Princes, Dons, Sultan Supremes, Sultans, Ministers, Enforcers, High Priests, Chiefs of Security and Soldiers. Depending on the set, these positions can control anything from a few project buildings to a geographical area, to more than one "set" located in different areas within the city.
Culture/Method of Operation: The MCs have noted supply of the some of the purest heroin on the streets. Though some sets sell other drugs, such as marijuana or crack cocaine, "brown" is the staple for the gang's wealth. When they controlled buildings int he Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini-Green is was common for dozens, if not hundreds of members to to stand in hallways, and throughouit vacant apartments selling drugs. Security was tight for the gang and usually unknown customers or visiters would be searched and questioned. The Robert Taylor set, known as the Hole was one of the more violent and reputed locales in all the city. There, the MCs had a tenacity for shooting in daylight hours at rival Gangster Disciples. Such shootings promted the CPD to initiate a program where parents and law enforcement escorted children to school in the vicinity. Though the history of the Cobras deals with the alleged action of Chief Malik having Cogwell killed, there exists little beef between Black P. Stones and MCs. The two gangs have known to share terrtiory in the Woodlawn neighborhood around the vicinity of 62nd & Cottage Grove, though there have been sparodic flare ups. Indeed, the Cobras joined the People/Brothers when that alliance was form and adopted an Islamic doctrine, despite the fact that this was the very reason why Cogwell had a falling out with the Stone heirarchy (others have claimed drug taxation and relationships with the Outfit and worker unions had something to do with as well). The MCs developed a relationship with the Black Disciples in Woodlawn, Washington Park, ans certain sections of Englewood in the mid 1990s as both gangs shared several sets; these particular BDs were prompted to adopt a "Blue Fin" concept that was allegedly started throughout the high schools such as Hyde Park, South Shore, C.V.S. and Englewood. The MCs also have a tight relationship with the Jet Black Stones in the Oakland/Kenwood and Washington Park neighborhood.
MCs usually refer to each other as "snake" or "snakebite" and sometimes "seen" or when talking to a member with authority, "law" as well as non-gang particular such as "fam," "joe," or "black." Common sayings for the gang include "All is Well," "Snakebite, Too Tight," "All Seen (Through the Eyes of a Cobra)" and "All Hail Chief Mickey." One of the more interesting characteristics of MCs would be during times of conlfict they actually "hiss," a tactic designed to instill fear in the enemy. The gang's handsign is the forming the "C" by using the thumb and four fingers. although recently the "C" has also been formed using just the thumb and index-finger. They also raise all five fingers and form a fist to "bang" against their heart, while forming the "C" with the index finger and thumb. Their handsign cupping the hand to connect with the other member's handinterlocking the "C" with the index-finger , then dropping the pitchfork using the index- and middle-fingers, while still somewhat interlocked. Their colors are black red, and gree, the traditonal colors of Black American Nationalism, although members mostly wear black and green to differentiate themselves from Black P. Stones as well as those being the original Egyptian Cobras (though there are disputes to this).
While within every gang there exists hardcore thugs, killers, then Hip-hoppers, and the more flashy ballers and players (or some combination thereof), the MCs have a particular distinction for being more "grimey", usually wearing dark , older and non-fashionable clothing, and not being of a well-groomed appearance, not to say that all members fit that classification, but that is the general perception for the gang. In fact, they have an reputation for being stickup robbers and "bone crushers." Particular clothing members frequent wear have been Cincinatti Reds, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago Bulls clothing apparrel in addition to the in fashion "hood wear" at the time.
The Cobras arch enemy has always been the Gangster Disciples. The intesne rivalry betwen the two gangs was present Cabrini-Green, Robert Taylor Homes, Dearborn Homes, Woodlawn, Roseland, Englewood, and South Shore. They've had off an on again relationships with the Conservative Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords, particularly on the north side, and Fuller Park, respectively. Depending on the location the gang can be in odds with or in tight relationship with the Black P. Stones. Recently, it seems that the two gangs have tended to work together and sahre sets, apprentally, the younger membership doesn't feel slighted by the alleged assasination of Cogwell at the orders of Chief Malik. Also, as stated, there was a working relationship with the Black Disciples in Woodlawn and Washington Park, presumably started in the high schools. The MCs meet yearly at Fuller Park to commenmorate Micky Cogwell.
29th & State in the Dearborn Homes
<_"Princeton," 43rd to 55th, Shields to Dan Ryan Expressway
43rd & Princeton
45th & Princeton (Fuller Park)
47th & Princeton (Dog Pound)
50th & Princeton (Outlaws)_>
55th & State (shared w/GDs and BDs)
55th & Normal "Dodge City"
56th & Sheilds
58th & Wood
59th & King Dr. (shared w/BDs)
61st & Cottage Grove "Mickey City"
62nd & Damen
65th & Cottage Grove
69th & Damen
71st & Hermitage
<_"Southshore," 72nd to 75th, Bennett to Crandon
73rd & Bennett
75th & Constance
75th & Merrill_>
76th & Champlain
81st & Chappel
90th to 91stpl. & Cottage Grove "Spook Town"
116th & Perry
Lathrop Homes near Diversy & Clybourn (shared w/CVLs, BPS, and LKs)
Evergreen & Sedgwick in the Marshall Fields Apts. "Pimp Palace"(shared w/CVLs and BPS)
Calumet Park, IL
Chicago Heights, IL
Lee County, Florida
Des Moines, Iowa
Kansas City, Missouri
Columbia, South Carolina
Pierre, South Dakota
Division & Sedgwick in Cabrini-Green
Henry Horner Homes
Maxwell & Halsted "Jew Town"
Roosevelt to 16th, Pulaski to Kostner "K-Town"
Cermack & State in the Hillard Homes "H-Town"
53rd & State in the Robert Taylor Homes "The Hole"
53rd & Shields
56th & King Dr.
58th & Honore
65th & King Drive in Parkway Gardens Apts.
72nd to 73rd & Jeffery "Half Block"
85th & Dante
111th to 115th & Michigan "The Hill"
West Pullman neighborhood