News and Press Releases

Eleven Members of the Latin Kings Gang Charged with Drug Trafficking, Robbery Conspiracy, and Credit Card Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2005

The Highest-ranking Member of the Latin Kings in New York State Is among Those Charged

ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, MARK J. MERSHON, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, and RAYMOND W. KELLY, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging ISAAC ALMANZAR, PEDRO MEDINA, BENJAMIN FIGUEROA, MIGUEL SOTO, JAVIER TAVAREZ, ISMAEL SUREN, JOSE CRUZ, and LOUIS HERNANDEZ with distributing large quantities of crack cocaine in Brooklyn, New York, and the unsealing of complaints charging ROBERT FUENTES and DAVID SOTO with robbery conspiracy, and BRADLEY JOHN GONZALEZ with credit card fraud. The defendants are alleged to be members of the Almighty Latin King Nation ("Latin Kings"), a highly-structured street gang conducting its criminal activities at various locations across the United States.1

Earlier today FBI agents and NYPD officers executed search warrants at four locations in Brooklyn controlled or used by the defendants - 179 Starr Street, 81 Central Avenue, 179 Jefferson Street, and 180 Jefferson Street - and seized over twenty thousand dollars in U.S. currency, two firearms, multiple fraudulent credit cards, and quantities of crack cocaine and marijuana packaged for resale.

The charges announced today follow a twenty-one month joint FBI and NYPD investigation coordinated by the United States Attorney's Office aimed at dismantling a large-scale drug trafficking gang responsible for distributing up to $2,000 of crack cocaine per day in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The prosecution is part of an ongoing initiative to eliminate violent street gangs that erode the quality of life in many of the district's neighborhoods. Previous cases include gang round-ups in Brooklyn and Queens at the Vernon and Sumner Houses, the Louis H. Pink Houses, the Lafayette Gardens Houses, the Queensbridge Houses, the Marcus Garvey Houses, and the Gowanus Houses, and in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.

The defendants arrested today are scheduled to have their arraignments and initial appearances this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

According to the indictment and other court documents, ALMANZAR was the leader of the drug distribution organization and was recently promoted to First Crown of the Supreme Team, the Latin Kings management committee. As such, ALMANZAR currently is the highest-ranking member of the Latin Kings in New York State. He used this position to organize and oversee the distribution of narcotics, frequently employing other members of the Latin Kings, among those the defendants MEDINA, FIGUEROA, SOTO, TAVAREZ, and SUREN, to sell crack cocaine from numerous drug spots in Brooklyn, including 179 Jefferson Street, 46 Irving Avenue, and 81 Central Avenue.

One complaint charges defendants FUENTES and SOTO with a violent robbery conspiracy during which they twice assaulted another member of the Latin Kings and stole approximately $4,700 in cash. A second complaint charges GONZALEZ with credit card fraud based on his possession of credit card numbers and social security numbers belonging to others.

"Combating violent gangs and stopping the flow of illegal drugs is a priority of this Office," stated United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "This case is the latest of several joint operations demonstrating our commitment to protecting New York neighborhoods from violent street gangs. For years, this Latin Kings crew controlled the drug trade in the area of Jefferson Street and Central and Irving Avenues in Brooklyn through fear and intimidation. With this prosecution we have ended their reign and taken another step toward returning one of our communities to its law-abiding residents." Ms. MAUSKOPF thanked the office of the Kings County District Attorney for its assistance in the case and emphasized that the investigation is continuing.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge MERSHON stated, "Despite protestations to the contrary, the Latin Kings have a notorious history of gang violence and drug trafficking in New York. They are not primarily about ethnic pride and identity. They are about drugs, turf, and the violence used to intimidate rivals. Arresting the Latin Kings' ranking Crown and his co-defendants is another step in giving New York's neighborhoods back to law-abiding New Yorkers."

NYPD Commissioner KELLY stated, "Once again, the Department and our federal law enforcement partners have joined together to stop a dangerous drug gang operating in New York City. These arrests are part of our continuous efforts to reduce crime and to improve the safety and quality of life of all New Yorkers."

If convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine base, the defendants ALMANZAR, MEDINA, FIGUEROA, SOTO, TAVAREZ, SUREN, CRUZ, and HERNANDEZ face a minimum of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, a life term of supervised release, and a $4,000,000 fine. The defendants FUENTES and SOTO, charged with robbery conspiracy, face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. The defendant GONZALEZ, charged with credit card fraud, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bryan J. Rose and Colleen E. Kavanagh.

The Defendants:

Name: ISAAC ALMANZAR (also known as "King Lucky")
DOB: 12/29/73
Residence: 180 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: PEDRO MEDINA (also known as "Eddie")
DOB: 12/3/83
Residence: 179 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: BENJAMIN FIGUEROA (also known as "King Trini")
DOB: 6/20/84
Residence: 179 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: MIGUEL SOTO (also known as "King Righteous")
DOB: 9/25/80
Residence: 179 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: JAVIER TAVAREZ (also known as "King Fatbox")
DOB: 2/19/70
Residence: 46 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Name: ISMAEL SUREN (also known as "King Ish")
DOB: 2/15/78
Residence: 46 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Name: JOSE CRUZ
DOB: 9/18/73
Residence: 179 Starr Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: LOUIS HERNANDEZ (also known as "King Rip" and "Danny Hernandez")
DOB: 10/10/84
Residence: 180 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: ROBERT FUENTES (also known as "King Too Tall")
DOB: 4/22/79
Residence:

Name: DAVID SOTO (also known as "King Focus")
DOB: 7/20/77
Residence: 180 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

Name: BRADLEY JOHN GONZALEZ (also known as "King Vest")
DOB: 8/13/74
Residence: 180 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn, New York

 

_____________________________

1 The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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