41-Count Indictment Charges 10 Alleged Latin Kings Members and Associates with Drug and Gun Offenses
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Hartford Police Chief David Rosado today announced the unsealing of a 41-count indictment charging 10 alleged members and associates of the Almighty Latin Kings Nation with narcotics offenses related to the distribution of heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine in Hartford. The indictment also charges four of the defendants with firearm offenses stemming from a shooting incident last year in Hartford’s South End.
The indictment, which was returned by a grand jury in Hartford on May 1 and unsealed today, stems from a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force and the Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division targeting gang violence and narcotics trafficking in Hartford.
Charged in the indictment are:
WILSON VELEZ, a.k.a. “Wiso,” 33, of Newington
MIGUEL CLAUDIO, a.k.a. “Mega,” 35, of Hartford
JOSHUA AMARAL, a.k.a. “Ill Child,” 33, of Hartford
ANGEL CABRERA, 23, of Hartford
SAMMY DIAZ, a.k.a. “Shorty,” 30, of Meriden
CRUZ FERNANDEZ, a.k.a. “Blood,” 27, of Hartford
JOSE RODRIGUEZ, a.k.a. “Juice,” 47, of Hartford
FRANKIE VEGA, a.k.a. “Lips,” 33, of Hartford
MIGUEL MARTINEZ, a.k.a. “Nitro,” 33, of Hartford
MARIO MERCADO, a.k.a. “Taz,” 33, of Hartford
Claudio, Diaz, Fernandez, Rodriguez, Vega, and Mercado were arrested today. They appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford and are detained.
Velez was arrested on related narcotics offenses on December 7, 2017, and was subsequently released on bond. He was arrested again on April 5, 2018, and his bond was revoked after the court determined there was probable cause that Velez committed additional offenses while he was released. Amaral and Cabrera are incarcerated in state custody. Martinez is still being sought.
The indictment alleges that between April 2017 and April 2018, Velez, Claudio, Amaral, Cabrera, Diaz, Fernandez, Rodriguez and Vega conspired to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). If convicted of conspiracy, based on the type and quantity of narcotics charged, Velez faces a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; Claudio and Rodriguez face a minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years, and Amaral, Cabrera, Diaz, Fernandez and Vega face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
In addition to the conspiracy count, Velez, Claudio, Amaral, Cabrera, Fernandez, Vega, Martinez and Mercado are each charged with one or more counts of possession and/or distribution of various controlled substances. Velez also is charged with one count of employing a minor to distribute heroin and fentanyl, and Diaz and Vega are charged in one or more counts with using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of heroin and/or fentanyl.
The indictment also charges Velez, Claudio, Amaral and Cabrera with firearms offenses stemming from a shooting incident that occurred on April 28, 2017, in the area of Franklin Avenue and Barker Street in Hartford. If convicted of using and carrying a firearm in relation to, and furtherance of, a drug trafficking crime, these defendants face a mandatory consecutive 10-year term of imprisonment. In addition, Martinez is charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm on June 8, 2017, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force and the Hartford Police Department. The Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division and Shooting Task Force have provided valuable assistance to the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.