A federal jury in Winston-Salem, N.C., has convicted two members of the North Carolina Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) and one associate of the gang for a racketeering conspiracy involving violent crimes and drug distribution for the benefit of the criminal organization.
The convictions, which occurred late Wednesday, were announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand for the Middle District of North Carolina; and Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte, N.C. Division of the FBI.
“Acting on behalf of the Latin Kings, these defendants committed horrific acts of violence in their community, and they face substantial prison sentences as a result,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Gangs wreak havoc on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and we are determined to continue bringing dangerous criminals like the Latin Kings to justice.”
“The result in this case speaks to the value of effective partnerships - effective partnerships between the many law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of this case, and the effective partnership between our office and the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division in the prosecution of the case,” said U.S. Attorney Rand. “We would like to thank the jury for their time and attention during this lengthy trial - their deliberations and verdict show that they took this case very seriously, and our office will continue to take violent crime in the District very seriously as well.”
“This verdict is a direct result of the outstanding joint investigative efforts of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners,” said Special Agent in Charge Briese. “The Piedmont-Triad Safe Streets Task Force will continue to investigate and help eradicate violent gangs to keep our communities safe.”
The leader of the North Carolina ALKQN, Jorge Cornell, aka “King J,” 36, of Greensboro, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and violent crime in aid of racketeering activity. He was also convicted of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence for an April 2008 assault with a dangerous weapon.
Russell Lloyd Kilfoil, aka “King Peaceful,” 26, of Greensboro, and Ernesto Wilson, aka “Yayo,” 54, of New York, were also convicted of racketeering conspiracy. Randolph Leif Kilfoil, aka “King Paul,” 27, of Greensboro; Samuel Isaac Velasquez, aka “King Hype,” 23, of Garner, N.C.; and Irvin Vasquez, aka “King Dice,” 23, of Raleigh, N.C. were found not guilty after three days of jury deliberations.
According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants were members and associates of the ALKQN in North Carolina, a violent street gang that originated in Chicago in the 1960s and ultimately migrated to cities throughout the United States, including to Greensboro in 2002. Evidence at trial showed that from approximately 2005 until December 2011, the Latin Kings gang members met on a regular basis to increase their knowledge base of the gang rules; to discuss criminal activity and how to deal with rival gangs, including by attempted murder; to purchase firearms and circulate firearms for use in criminal activity by Latin Kings members; to engage in violent take-over robberies; and to use juveniles to distribute cocaine. The proceeds of this criminal activity helped to finance the gang’s illegal activities. Latin Kings members also attempted to murder members of their own gang when they attempted to leave the gang.
Evidence presented at trial also showed that Cornell conspired with other members of the Latin Kings to commit these racketeering acts, including the April 2008 shooting of a rival gang member; distribution of cocaine; the commission of no fewer than five Hobbs Act robberies of business located throughout the Greensboro area; plotting to firebomb the residences of former Latin Kings members; attacking former Latin Kings members; and the conspiracy to kill former Latin Kings members in drive-by shootings.
Six other individuals have pleaded guilty in the Middle District of North Carolina to racketeering conspiracy related to their involvement in the Latin Kings gang. Carlos Coleman, aka “King Spanky,” was acquitted of charges in a motion granted by the court during trial.
U.S. District Judge James A. Beaty Jr. presided over the trial. Each of the defendants convicted today faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison on the Racketeering Conspiracy count. Cornell also faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison on the violent crime in aid of racketeering count, and a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison on the use of a firearm count. Each count also carries a maximum potential $250,000 fine.
The investigation was a joint operation conducted by the FBI’s Greensboro Field Office; the Greensboro, N.C. Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ken Miller; and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff B. J. Barnes. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Leshia Lee-Dixon of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A.J. Lang for the Middle District of North Carolina.