An indictment was unsealed today against four alleged gang members of Chicago’s criminal street gang, Latin Dragon Nation, for RICO conspiracy and related charges, including two murders.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II for the Northern District of Indiana made the announcement.
According to the indictment, Manuel Diaz, 26, of Hammond, Indiana; Eduardo Diaz-Corral, 20, of Calumet City, Illinois; Ralph Mendez Jr., 22, of Hammond, Indiana; and Joseph Roggenkamp, 20, of East Chicago, Indiana, are alleged to be members of the Latin Dragon Nation. Both Diaz-Corral and Mendez Jr. had their initial court appearances on Feb. 27 and were ordered detained pending detention hearings before U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. Martin on March 2, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. CT. Manual Diaz is scheduled to have his initial appearance on Feb. 28 at 11:00 a.m. CT, before Magistrate Judge Martin.
“Though the Latin Dragon Nation is believed to have originated in Chicago, the indictment unsealed today alleges that the street gang has exported its especially violent brand of criminal conduct to Northern Indiana,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners are committed to stopping the expansion of violent criminal enterprises like the Latin Dragon Nation, and holding accountable those who terrorize our communities through violence.”
“Street gangs are terrorizing our neighborhoods with senseless violence that effects the daily lives of ordinary, law-abiding citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Kirsch. “As this indictment makes clear, gang activity does not stop at the state line, and neither do our investigations and prosecutions. My office, and the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with whom we work, will fight tirelessly to combat the senseless violence that results from gang activity. We will never tolerate gang violence and will do everything possible to deter and defeat it.”
The indictment alleges that Diaz, Diaz-Corral, Mendez, and Roggenkamp participated in a criminal enterprise that resulted in the murders of Paul Cruz on Nov. 20, 2016, and Charles Berrios on Sept. 30, 2016, both of whom the defendants believed were members or associates of a rival gang. In addition, according to the indictment the defendants participated in other shootings for the purpose of furthering the goals of the Latin Dragon Nation.
According to the indictment, the Latin Dragon Nation is a street gang that originated in Chicago and spread to other areas, including the Northern District of Indiana. Members and associates of the Latin Dragon Nation allegedly engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault, witness intimidation, as well as narcotics distribution and other criminal activities.
The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Hammond Police Department, the East Chicago Police Department, along with the Chicago and Calumet City, Illinois Police, are investigating the case. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Nozick and Dean Lanter of the Northern District of Indiana.
An indictment or superseding indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.