Former Member of New Bedford Latin Kings Sentenced to Over Eight Years in Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy
BOSTON – A former member of the New Bedford Chapter of the Massachusetts Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (Latin Kings) was sentenced today on racketeering charges.
Luis Mendez, a/k/a “King Primo,” 41, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to 100 months in prison, with credit for time served in related state cases, and three years of supervised release. On Nov. 3, 2021, Mendez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.
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.
Mendez was a member of the New Bedford Chapter of the Latin Kings and as such he participated in the drug distribution activities that were based in multi-unit apartment buildings, known as “trap houses” that the Latin Kings controlled in the northern section of New Bedford. Multiple search warrants executed by the New Bedford Police Department targeted locations where Mendez resided, and drug were seized as a result. Mendez was also present during a December 2018 group assault in a garage, where co-defendant Michael Cotto, a/k/a “King Gordo,” was captured participating in a group assault of another individual and observed striking the victim with a baseball bat.
Mendez also participated in a shooting of two victims in May 2018. During that incident, multiple Latin Kings members chased the two victims to a vehicle, surrounded the vehicle, and slashed their tires. Another Latin Kings member then fired gunshots at the two victims striking them. Both victims fled in the vehicle and survived. Mendez admitted that these victims were targeted because one of the victims previously objected to Latin Kings members conducting drug transactions in the victim’s driveway. Following the shooting, Mendez discussed the incident on a court-authorized wiretap and advised the shooter that the victims would not be coming to court due to the efforts of the Latin Kings to intimidate them.
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. Mendez is the 50th defendant to be sentenced 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 statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Commissioner Carol Mici of the Massachusetts Department of Correction; and New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro made the announcement. 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. Attorney Philip A. Mallard of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit prosecuted 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.