WASHINGTON - Nelson Santos, aka "Nelly" and "King Nelly," 27, of Silver Spring, Md., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in connection with his gang activities as a member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (Latin Kings).
The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent in Charge Joseph Riehl of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy; Chief Roberto L. Hylton of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.
According to Santos’ plea agreement, the Latin Kings is a violent street gang with thousands of members across the country and overseas. The Latin Kings have a detailed and uniform organizational structure, which is outlined – along with various "prayers," codes of behavior, and rituals – in a written "manifesto" widely distributed to members throughout the country. Members of the Latin Kings are also traditionally given "King Names" or "Queen Names," which are names other than their legal names, by which they are known to members of the gang and to others on the street. At the local level, groups of Latin Kings are organized into "tribes," including, but not limited to, the Royal Lion Tribe, MOG, Sun Tribe and UTL.
According to the plea agreement, in 2007, Santos became a member of the Royal Lion Tribe in Maryland. Santos attended Latin King meetings in Maryland, where dues were collected from members and gang business was discussed and he communicated with Latin King members about the gang’s activities by telephone. Santos participated in Latin King-sanctioned missions, including the armed robbery of a prostitute at the EconoLodge motel in Laurel, Md., on Dec. 14, 2007.
According to the statement of facts, Santos and other Latin King members and associates drove in two separate vehicles to the motel, where they forced their way into a motel room,
which they knew to be occupied by a prostitute. Santos and the other Latin King members and associates were armed with a gun and a knife. The prostitute was forced to strip naked on the bed, while the Latin Kings ransacked her room and stole cash, an X-Box, video games, a cell phone, a laptop and other items. The man who was in the room with the prostitute was held captive in the bathroom and pistol-whipped on the head.
Also according to the plea agreement, on April 28, 2009, in Wheaton, Md., Santos, a previously convicted felon who was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, knowingly possessed a Leinad 9mm Mac-11 machine pistol with an obliterated serial number, which was loaded with 27 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Santos faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for racketeering and 10 years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for Oct. 22, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. Santos remains detained.
Co-defendants Miguel Cruz, aka "Skibee" and "King Skibee," 45, of Bronx, N.Y., one of the founders of the Maryland tribe of the Latin Kings and Andres Echevarria, aka "B-Boy" and "King B-Boy," 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who admitted that he held leadership positions in the Latin Kings, previously pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy in connection with their gang activities and are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. and Sept. 2, 2010, at 9:30 a.m., respectively. Both remain in federal custody.
The case was investigated by the Gaithersburg, Md., Police Department, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland National Capital Park Police - Prince George’s County Division, the Maryland State Police, the New York City Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Glatfelter and David Salem, and Trial Attorney Lara M. Peirce with the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit.