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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Former Latin Kings East Coast Leader Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy

BOSTON – The former East Coast leader of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (“Latin Kings”) pleaded guilty today to racketeering and drug charges.

Michael Cecchetelli, a/k/a “King Merlin, 41, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for July 8, 2021.

The Latin Kings are a violent criminal enterprise comprised of thousands of members across the United States. The Latin Kings adhere to a national manifesto, employ an internal judiciary and use a sophisticated system of communication to maintain the hierarchy of the organization. As alleged in court documents, the gang uses drug distribution to generate revenue, and engages in violence against witnesses and rival gangs to further its influence and to protect its turf.

As stated during the plea hearing, Cecchetelli led the Latin Kings’ criminal activity in the Eastern Region and held the title of Supreme Regional Overseer for the East Coast. Cecchetelli is the conduit between each of the Eastern Region states and the Latin Kings national leadership in Chicago. In this position, thousands of Latin Kings members fell under his authority. Cecchetelli developed a leadership approach to the gang which became a model for other Latin Kings regions across the country. Cecchetelli also organized conspiracies to murder two members of the Latin Kings who accused him of cooperating with law enforcement. 

In December 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy and firearms charges against 62 leaders, members and associates of the Latin Kings. Cecchetelli is the 43rd defendant to plead guilty in the case.

The RICO conspiracy charge provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Commissioner Carol Mici of the Massachusetts Department of Correction; and New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was also provided by the FBI North Shore Gang Task Force and the Bristol County and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Mallard and Lauren A. Graber of Mendell’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated April 6, 2021