CHICAGO — A federal indictment unsealed this week charges 34 alleged members of the Latin Kings street gang with participating in a criminal organization that murdered its rivals and violently protected its drug-dealing territories in Chicago and the suburbs.
Authorities uncovered the criminal activity through an investigation conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). During the course of the probe, law enforcement agents confiscated 18 firearms.
Original charges in the case were filed in 2016 against 20 alleged members of the Latin Kings. The superseding indictment unsealed this week adds 14 more defendants and charges numerous acts of violence, including six murders, three attempted murders, and three arsons. Thirty three of the defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy, while the 34th defendant faces a firearm charge.
The superseding indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Eddie T. Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial investigative assistance was provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department and Hammond (Ind.) Police Department. The FBI Task Force investigating the case was comprised of agents and task force officers from the Joliet Police Department, Evergreen Park Police Department, Bolingbrook Police Department, Orland Park Police Department, Cook County Sheriff's Police Department, Will County Sheriff’s Office, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Additional support was provided by the Merrillville (Ind.) FBI office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana.
The superseding indictment was returned on Feb. 1, 2018, and ordered unsealed this week. Several of the new defendants were arrested this week, and arraignments for most of the defendants have been held in federal court in Chicago.
The superseding indictment alleges that members of the Latin Kings violently enforced discipline within their ranks and retaliated against rivals and former members to prevent cooperation with law enforcement. The charges accuse nine defendants of committing six murders in furtherance of the gang’s activities:
ALONZO HORTA, 20, of Hammond, Ind., and GEOVANNI LOPEZ, 28, of Oak Forest, allegedly murdered Alfonso Calderon on April 9, 2017, in Chicago.
DEAN TREVINO, 25, of Chicago, and EMANUEL MENDEZ, 29, of Hammond, Ind., allegedly murdered Ismael Perez on Nov. 3, 2012, in Chicago.
GERONIA FORD, 23, of Chicago, and WILLIAM HAYSLETTE, 24, of Chicago, allegedly murdered Sergio Hernandez on May 15, 2012, in Chicago.
JUAN JIMENEZ, 35, of Blue Island, allegedly murdered Isiah Cintron on Jan. 18, 2007, in Hammond, Ind.
THOMAS LUCZAK, 44, of Chicago, allegedly murdered Juan Serratos on June 11, 2000, in Chicago.
JOSE JARAMILLO, 35, of Hammond, Ind., allegedly murdered Jeremy Ward on Nov. 15, 1999, in Chicago.
Mendez and two other defendants – ORLANDO MARIN, 29, of Chicago, and ROY VEGA, 35, of Chicago – are also charged with committing attempted murders.
The defendants participated in the Southeast Region of the Latin Kings, which contains more than a dozen chapters answering to a regional structure of leadership, according to the indictment. Each chapter is typically named after the city in which it operates, or by a street or streets that run through the chapter. Among the Chicago chapters in the Southeast Region are 82nd Street, 88th and 89th Streets, 97th Street, 99th Street, 102nd Street, 104th Street, and the Roseland neighborhood. Other regional chapters operated in the south suburbs of Blue Island, Dolton, Harvey and Chicago Heights, as well as in Kankakee and communities across the border in Indiana, according to the indictment.
The indictment charges defendants who serve in various high-ranking positions of the Latin Kings. These positions include “Regional Enforcers,” who violently instill discipline within the ranks; “Incas,” who serve as chapter leaders; “Caciques,” who are second in command behind the Incas; “Soldiers,” who often carry dangerous weapons to carry out the gang’s activities; and “Regional Treasurer,” who collects dues from Latin King chapters to finance the gang’s activities.
Several firearm offenses are also charged in the indictment, including unlawful possession of guns, assault with a dangerous weapon, illegal dealing of guns, and multiple counts of witness intimidation.
The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the OCDETF program, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of OCDETF is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Racketeering conspiracy generally carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but a life sentence is possible for certain underlying racketeering activities, including certain murders charged in the indictment. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Wallach, Derek Owens and Vikas Didwania are representing the government.