Latin Kings Leader Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy That Included Two Attempted Murders, Armed Robbery and Witness Tampering
Defendant Admits Membership in Violent Gang with Thousands of Members
GREENBELT, Md. - Francisco Ortiz, aka “Francis Gabriel Ortis,” “Pone” and “King Pone,” 26, of Rockville, 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.
The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer, of the Department of Justice 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 (ATF) - Baltimore Field Division; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy; Chief Roberto L. Hylton of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.
“The people of Maryland know all too well the violence that Latin Kings members can bring to communities. Attempted murder, witness tampering and armed robbery – Francisco Ortiz admitted to participating in all these activities as a Latin Kings member and leader. As this guilty plea shows, however, our gang unit prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement partners are taking these violent offenders off the streets of our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
“The defendant admitted that the Latin Kings is a violent organized gang with thousands of members who commit assaults, robberies and murders,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The strategy of combining the resources and intelligence of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to pursue federal racketeering charges is proving effective.”
According to Ortiz’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 and uniform 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 to others on the street. At the local level, groups of Latin Kings are organized into “tribes,” including, the Royal Lion Tribe, MOG, Sun Tribe and UTL.
According to the plea agreement, in mid-2007, Ortiz became a member of the Royal Lion Tribe in Maryland and the tribe’s Third Crown/Enforcer. Ortiz became the First Crown/Inca of the tribe in 2008, when members of the Royal Lion tribe formed the MOG tribe. Ortiz led the MOG tribe until mid-2009, when he was removed from power, then formed and became the leader of the UTL tribe. As a Latin King leader, Ortiz organized meetings where dues were collected from members and gang business was discussed. As First Crown/Inca, Ortiz traveled to Pennsylvania, New York and Florida where he met with other Latin King leaders.
Ortiz admitted that as part of his gang activities, in late summer or fall of 2007, Ortiz and other Latin King members carried out the armed robbery of a drug dealer at condominiums in Langley Park, Md. According to the plea agreement, one of the Latin Kings knocked on the drug dealer’s door and when the door opened, Ortiz and two other Latin King members and associates forced their way into the apartment, each carrying a gun. Once inside, they put their guns to the heads of the dealer and his young daughter. The Latin King members held the drug dealer and his daughter at gunpoint in the bedroom while they searched the residence, eventually stealing a few bags of powder cocaine.
According to the plea agreement, in December 2007, Ortiz and other Latin King members and associates participated in the attempted murder of a suspected rival gang member. When several Latin King members began walking in the wooded area behind a condominium complex in Langley Park, one or more people - suspected to be MS-13 members - began shooting at them. After the Latin Kings began running to their cars, Ortiz made them stop, get out of their cars and retaliate against the suspected MS-13 members. When the Latin Kings found an individual who they believed was a member of MS-13, they attacked and stabbed him.
Ortiz admitted that on Jan. 19, 2009, he and other Latin King members and associates threatened and attempted to physically assault a Latin Queen, who was the intended victim of an earlier firebombing. Three days earlier, three members of the Latin Kings had been sentenced after pleading guilty in that case. Ortiz and other Latin Kings attended the sentencing at U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Believing that if the Latin Queen was not a witness or changed her testimony the three Latin Kings would be able to successfully appeal their convictions for the firebombing, Ortiz and other Latin Kings put a plan in place to assault the Latin Queen in an attempt to influence, change or prevent her testimony. ATF agents learned of the plan and were able to prevent the attack.
Finally, Ortiz admitted that on July 8, 2009, he and members of the UTL tribe attempted to murder a person in Germantown, Md. The victim was walking on a residential street with two friends when a car approached them. Several people got out of the car and began chasing the victim. The victim was eventually caught and struck in the back of the head. The victim fell to the ground where Ortiz and other Latin Kings beat the victim with a bat, kicked, punched and stabbed him multiple times. Ortiz was arrested two days after the attack and at the time of his arrest had three machetes with him.
Ortiz faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for Dec. 1, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. Ortiz remains detained.
Co-defendants Miguel Cruz, aka “Skibee” and “King Skibee,” 45, of Bronx, N.Y., one of the founders of the Maryland tribe of the Latin Kings; Andres Echevarria, aka “B-Boy” and “King B-Boy,” 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who admitted that he held leadership positions in the Latin Kings; and Nelson Santos, aka “Nelly” and “King Nelly,” 27, of Silver Spring, Md., previously pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy in connection with their gang activities and are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16, 2010, Sept. 2, 2010, and Oct. 22, 2010, respectively, at 9:30 a.m. All remain in federal custody.
The case was investigated by the Gaithersburg, Md.. Police Department, the Montgomery, Md., County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland National Capital Park Police - Prince George’s County Division, the Maryland State Police, the New York City Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Glatfelter and David Salem, and Lara M. Peirce, a Trial Attorney with the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit, prosecuted the case.