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Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that WILSON PAGAN, a/k/a “King Gunz,” and CHRISTIAN SANCHEZ, a/k/a “King Chi Chi,” leaders of the Latin Kings gang in Newburgh, New York (the “Newburgh Latin Kings”), were found guilty today before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in White Plains federal court of 29 counts, including murder, racketeering, drug, firearms, and witness tampering charges, after a six-week jury trial. Judge Seibel set July 11, 2013 for sentencing, at which time PAGAN and SANCHEZ will both face mandatory terms of life in prison.
PAGAN and SANCHEZ are two of 35 members and associates of the Newburgh Latin Kings originally indicted in connection with the case, all of whom have been convicted. Among other charges, PAGAN was found guilty of the May 6, 2008 murder of Jeffrey Zachary, and SANCHEZ was found guilty of the March 11, 2010 murder of Jerome Scarlett, a/k/a “Rudeboy,” and the murder of John Maldonado, a/k/a “Tarzan,” less than 24 hours later, on March 12, 2010.
“U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: For far too long, the residents of Newburgh were plagued by lethal violence and narcotics trafficking at the hands of these two defendants and their cronies, and in just nine hours, the jury unanimously found them guilty of a catalogue of crimes, including the tragic murder of an innocent 15-year-old boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their reign of terror is now over for good and everyone can breathe easier as a result. Today’s guilty verdicts are the latest example of how we are making good on our promise to eradicate the scourge of gangs and to give neighborhoods back to their residents, and together with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will continue our fight.”
According to the evidence at trial before Judge Seibel:
Between 2007 and 2011, the Newburgh Latin Kings and their trusted associates sold crack cocaine, heroin, powder cocaine, and marijuana at drug spots in Newburgh, including the areas of Benkard Avenue and William Street, and South Miller Street and Broadway. Gang members and associates protected the gang’s drug turf, drugs, and drug money, with guns and violence. The violence included frequent shootings, stabbings, and assaults of rival drug dealers, including members of another gang in Newburgh known as the Bloods, as well as witnesses and suspected Government witnesses within their own gang.
The Newburgh Latin Kings were governed by a council of five officers, who were referred to as crowns (collectively, the “Crown Council”). PAGAN and SANCHEZ each served as the First Crown, and overall head of the Newburgh Latin Kings -- PAGAN from 2008 through January 2010 and SANCHEZ from February 2010 through February 2011.
The Newburgh Latin Kings had regular chapter meetings at which attendance was mandatory and members were required to pay dues. At the meetings, members discussed their criminal activities and alleged transgressions of chapter rules. They also directed punishments, known as “violations,” against members who were determined to have committed transgressions. Furthermore, at the meetings the Newburgh Latin Kings discussed conflicts with other gangs. In some instances, the Crown Council used meetings to order attacks on individuals and rival gangs.
On May 6, 2008, two members of the Newburgh Latin Kings were ordered by PAGAN and another leader of the gang to shoot a member of the Bloods on Dubois Street in Newburgh. The members of the gang then drove to the vicinity of Dubois Street and shot at individuals they mistakenly believed were members of the Bloods, including Jeffrey Zachary, a 15-year old, who was shot and killed.
The Latin Kings violence continued after the Zachary murder, and included a violent altercation on November 1, 2008 when PAGAN ordered other members of the Latin Kings to bring a gun to South Miller Street in Newburgh, resulting in another member of the gang discharging a gun; the stabbing of a gang member, on orders from PAGAN, in January 2010; and the attempted stabbing of a gang member, who was believed cooperating with law enforcement, on orders from SANCHEZ in February 2010.
The violence culminated in March 2010 with the shooting deaths of Scarlett and Maldonado on back-to-back nights of bloodshed. SANCHEZ along with other leaders of the Newburgh Latin Kings ordered the murder of Maldonado. SANCHEZ spoke on the phone with other members of the gang at they walked Maldonado to the intersection of Benkard and Little Monument Street, where a shooter, recruited by gang members that same day, lay in wait to gun Maldonado down. After the shooting, the same leaders of the gang spoke to SANCHEZ on the phone as they stood over Maldonado, who lay dying in the street.
Finally, in September 2010, SANCHEZ shot another member of the gang during a violent confrontation over the leadership of the gang.
The investigation resulting in the prosecution of members and associates of the Newburgh Latin Kings was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, which combined the efforts of dozens of law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local agencies and departments, including agents and officers with the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the City of Newburgh Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Middletown Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police, and the Town of Newburgh Police Department. Mr. Bharara thanked the member agencies of the Task Force for their work in the investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas McQuaid, Benjamin Allee, and Abigail Kurland are in charge of the prosecution.