WASHINGTON – Six alleged members of the gang known as Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (Latin Kings) have been indicted for their alleged roles in a racketeering conspiracy in Hammond, Ind., and elsewhere, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana.
The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on June 17, 2010, and unsealed today in Hammond, Ind., charges Alexander Vargas, aka "Pacman," 33, of Highland, Ind.; Sisto Bernal, aka "Cisco," aka "Shug," 44, of Chicago; Jose Zambrano, aka "Speedy," 30, of Sauk Village, Ill.; Jason Ortiz, aka "Creeper," 27, of Chicago; Brandon Clay, aka "Cheddar," aka "Swiss," aka "Slick," 23, of Chicago; and Jermaine Ellis, aka "J-Dog," aka "Donnie Brosco," of Chicago, with conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity. Ortiz and Clay are also each charged with two counts of murder, one count of using and carrying a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence, two counts of murder resulting from the use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, one count of possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony, and one count of possessing stolen firearms.
The indictment alleges the defendants engaged in a series of acts in furtherance and in promotion of the Latin Kings. As alleged in the indictment, Vargas, Bernal and Zambrano traveled from the Chicago/northwest Indiana area to Texas to meet with the Texas Latin Kings hierarchy on May 29, 2005. As alleged in the indictment, Bernal threatened to "smash" the Texas Latin Kings leadership if they did not comply with the rules established by the Chicago-area Latin Kings hierarchy. During the meeting, Bernal allegedly designated the Texas Latin Kings state enforcer as the person who should communicate between the Texas and Chicago Latin Kings hierarchy.
The indictment also alleges that Ortiz, Clay and Ellis participated in the murder of rival gang members James Walsh and Gonzalo Diaz. The murders took place outside of a bar in Griffith, Ind., in the early morning of Feb. 25, 2007.
Upon conviction, Ortiz and Clay face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison or the death penalty. The remaining defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Vargas, Bernal, Zambrano, Clay and Ortiz were arrested today. Zambrano made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich on Monday, and Vargas, Bernal, Clay and Ortiz made their initial appearance before Judge Rodovich today. Ellis is currently being held in custody in Chicago and will be scheduled for an initial appearance on a later date.
According to the indictment, the Latin Kings is a nation-wide gang that originated in Chicago and has spread throughout the United States. The Latin Kings is a well organized street gang that has specific leadership and is comprised of regions that include multiple chapters.
As alleged in the indictment, the Latin Kings enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the Latin Kings. Members are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, including taking on assignments often referred to as "missions." As alleged in the indictment, missions can range from a leader ordering the assault of a rival gang member or a Latin Kings member who had committed a violation of the rules, to the murder of a rival gang member or a Latin Kings member who may have committed an egregious violation of the rules.
This case is being investigated by the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center (GangTECC); the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the Griffith Police Department; the Highland Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; and the Houston Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit and David Nozick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana.
The indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.