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Press Release

Latin Dragon Nation Member Sentenced to 420 Months Imprisonment Following Conviction for Racketeering Conspiracy Including Hammond Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Indiana

HAMMOND- Manuel Diaz, 29, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced by Judge Philip P. Simon to 420 months imprisonment following his guilty plea to conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity as a member of the Latin Dragon Nation street gang, announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch.

According to documents in the case, Manuel Diaz has been a member of the Latin Dragon Nation since 2007.  As a member, Diaz participated in several shootings of suspected rival gang members and associates. On September 30, 2017, Diaz drove a vehicle, while accompanied by two other members, in pursuit of a person in another vehicle in Hammond, Indiana. Charles Berrios driving a separate vehicle attempted to interfere with Diaz’s pursuit.  As Diaz drove past Berrios’s vehicle, Diaz fatally shot Berrios. 

“Manuel Diaz has been a Latin Dragon since his teens and has participated in numerous criminal acts over many years.  A lengthy, 35 year sentence is appropriate and should send a strong message that gang activity and associated criminal acts will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.  “Gang members should know that together with our law enforcement partners, my office will continue to investigate and prosecute criminal gang activity.  I am grateful to the law enforcement officers and prosecutors that have worked very hard on this case for many years.” 

“This lengthy sentence demonstrates how vital partnerships are among local, state and federal law enforcement in the successful investigation and prosecution of gang violence,” remarked Special Agent in Charge Kristen deTineo of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the Chicago Field Division. “We applaud the United States Attorney’s Office for their unwavering commitment to prosecute these violent offenders and sending the strong message that violence will not be tolerated in our communities.”

"Gang violence on our communities’ streets needlessly endangers innocent citizens, and today’s sentencing demonstrates that there are severe consequences for these crimes,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie, Jr.  “This sentence is the result of the tireless efforts of a multitude of law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, and we will continue partnering to ensure that our neighborhoods remain a safe place for families to live and grow."

This case is the result of the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Chicago Police Department Criminal Enterprise Unit; the Cook County Sheriff’s Office; the Bartlett Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; the East Chicago Police Department; the Merrillville Police Department; the Hobart Police Department; the Lake County Sheriff’s Department; and the Calumet City Police Department, with assistance from the Lake County, Indiana Prosecutor’s Office, the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, the Indiana Department of Corrections, and the Illinois Department of Corrections.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph A. Cooley and Kevin F. Wolff and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Toth, with prior assistance from the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section Trial Attorneys Robert Tully, Andrew Creighton, and Hans Miller.

Updated June 5, 2020

Violent Crime