NEW YORK — A federal jury found two members of the Newburgh (N.Y.) Latin Kings guilty of 29 counts to include murder, racketeering, drug, firearms and witness tampering. The guilty verdicts on Monday are the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI's Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force.
Wilson Pagan, aka King Gunz, and Christian Sanchez, aka King Chi Chi, leaders of the Latin Kings gang in Newburgh face mandatory terms of life in prison when sentenced July 11, 2013.
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. Sanchez was also found guilty of the March 11, 2010, murder of Jerome Scarlett, aka Rudeboy, and the murder of John Maldonado, aka Tarzan March 12, 2010.
According to the evidence introduced in the trial:
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. 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, aka 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. The members of the gang then shot at individuals they mistakenly believed were members of the Bloods, including 15-year-old Jeffrey Zachary who was shot and killed.
The Latin Kings violence continued after the Zachary murder, and included a violent altercation on Nov. 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 as they walked Maldonado to the intersection of Benkard and Little Monument Street in Newburgh, 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 FBI's 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; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; City of Newburgh Police Department; HSI; Middletown Police Department; Orange County Sheriff's Office; New York State Police; and the Town of Newburgh Police Department.