Latin Kings Leader in Maryland Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy Including Attempted Murders
WASHINGTON - Brandon Smith, aka “Little One” and “King Little One,” 26, of Hyattsville, Md., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in connection with his gang activities as a member and leader 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; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County, Md., Department of Police; Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy; Interim Chief Mark Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.
According to Smith’s 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 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 others. At the local level, groups of Latin Kings are organized into “tribes,” including the Royal Lion Tribe, MOG, Sun Tribe and UTL.
According to court documents, Smith was a member of the MOG and UTL Tribes in Maryland, joining the MOG Tribe in January 2009. Smith attended Latin King meetings where dues were collected from members and gang business was discussed, and he communicated with Latin King members and associates by phone and through the Internet. In his plea agreement, Smith admitted that he and other Latin King members and associates from Maryland traveled to New York City on Jan. 16, 2009, to attend a Latin King meeting at the Amazura Night Club in Queens, New York. Following the meeting, as Smith and other Latin King members were standing in front of the Amazura, a car pulled up in front of the club and a man opened fire yelling “Mara, Mara!” (referring to rival gang MS-13). Smith admitted that he returned fire, emptying his 9mm semi-automatic Taurus. During the shooting, four Latin Kings were shot, as was a limousine driver, who was driving by and was struck in the leg by the cross-fire.
Smith also admitted that he and several Latin King members and associates went to a residence in Wheaton, Md., on Jan. 31, 2009. Smith, the enforcer for the MOG tribe at the time, ordered an individual into the basement laundry room and ordered him to make the Latin King crown sign with his hands, while two other Latin Kings held the individual at gunpoint. From late in the evening on Jan. 31, 2009, and continuing into the early morning hours of Feb, 1, 2009, Smith threatened the individual, pacing in front of him with a knife, and telling the individual not to “drop” the crown (move his hands from the crown position). Smith admitted that at one point, he slashed the individual across the face, stating that he wanted to see the individual “leaking” on the floor and that the individual was going to leave the house in a body bag. Smith instructed another Latin King to shoot the individual in the heart if he dropped his crown, at which point the other Latin King cocked the gun. Smith called the leader of the MOG Tribe on speaker phone and told him that he had sliced the victim and planned to murder him. According to court documents, Montgomery County police officers arrived on the scene at about this time and directed everyone to leave the residence. After being threatened by Smith and others not to “snitch,” the victim wore a mask to cover his face as he left the residence. However, law enforcement had the victim remove his mask and discovered his wound. The victim received more than 150 stitches to close the gash that extended across his face.
According to court documents, during the evening of July 8, 2009, Smith and other members and associates of the UTL tribe attempted to murder another individual in Germantown, Md. The individual was walking on a residential street with two friends when a car approached and several people got out and began chasing the individual, who was able to hide for several minutes. When the individual left his hiding place, he was chased again. The individual was hit in the back of the head and fell to the ground. Smith admitted that he and the other UTL members and associates beat the individual with a bat-like object, and kicked, punched and stabbed the individual multiple times. In fact, the victim was stabbed with such force that the blade of the knife broke off during the attack and was recovered at the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital and treated for the multiple stab wounds he sustained.
Smith faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for May 9, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. Smith remains detained.
Seven co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy.
The ATF-led Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement (RAGE) Task Force, which includes the Gaithersburg, Md., Police Department; the Montgomery County Department of Police; the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office; the Prince George’s County Police Department; the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office; the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office; the Maryland National Capital Park Police - Prince George’s County Division; and the Maryland State Police; as well as the New York Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation provided assistance in the investigation and prosecution.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Glatfelter and David Salem, and Trial Attorney Lara M. Peirce with the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit.