CHICAGO — Two federal indictments unsealed in Chicago Tuesday charged 34 members of the Latin Kings street gang with participating in a criminal organization that assaults and attempts to murder its rivals and violently protects its territories in the city and suburbs.
The charges were announced by the following agency heads: Zachary T. Fardon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, special agent in charge of the FBI in Chicago; Lindsay Murphy, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago; and Eddie T. Johnson, Chicago Police Department Superintendent.
Authorities uncovered the alleged gang activity through dual investigations conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). During the multi-year probes, authorities confiscated more than 40 firearms, including two AR-15 assault rifles.
The indictments allege that members of the Latin Kings violently enforced discipline within its ranks and retaliated against rivals and former members to prevent cooperation with law enforcement. Its members and associates engaged in various acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assault with dangerous weapons, arson, and extortion, according to the indictments. The charges include the attempted murders of rival gang members and a Melrose Park (Illinois) police officer.
Thirty four alleged Latin Kings are charged with racketeering conspiracy. A 35th alleged Latin King is charged in the indictment with selling a firearm without a license. The 36th and final defendant is an alleged Latin King charged in a criminal complaint with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Several of the defendants were arrested this week and have begun making initial appearances in federal court in Chicago.
The indictments pertain to alleged Latin King activities in two Chicagoland areas – the southeast side of Chicago, including the south suburbs, and the western suburbs of Maywood and Melrose Park, Illinois.
Southeast Region (Chicago and south suburbs)
U.S.A. v. Cavillo, et al, 16 CR 463
The Southeast Region of the Latin Kings contains over a dozen chapters, all of which answer 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 included in the Southeast Region were 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, Illinois and communities across the border in Indiana, according to the indictment.
The indictment charges three alleged high-ranking Latin Kings who enforced discipline and adherence to the gang’s rules and were known as “Regional Enforcers.” The three Southeast Regional Enforcers charged in the indictment are: Raul Cavillo, 33; Joel Nunez, 39; and Carlos Padilla Jr., 35, all of Chicago.
Also charged in the indictment are several alleged chapter leaders, known within the hierarchy as “Incas,” and their second in commands, known as “Caciques.” According to the indictment, Paul Vasquez, 43, of Chicago, served as Inca of the 82nd Street chapter; Ruben Porraz, 36, of Chicago, was Inca of the 89th Street chapter; Edward Delgado Jr., 31, of Chicago, and Luis Gomez, 31, of Chicago, were at times Incas of the 97th Street chapter; Miguel Denava, 27, of Chicago, served as Inca of the 99th Street chapter; and Eloy Fuentes, 31, of Chicago, was Inca of the 104th Street chapter. Incas are considered the highest authority within a chapter and oversaw the unlawful affairs of the Latin Kings in their areas, according to the indictment.
Caciques charged in the indictment include Raymond Vasquez, 30, of Chicago, who worked in the 97th Street chapter; and Carlos Cartagena, 35, of Calumet City, Illinois, in the 102nd Street chapter, according to the indictment.
Raymond Vasquez and three “soldiers” of the chapter are charged in the indictment with using a dangerous weapon to assault an individual on Dec. 2, 2012, in south suburban Burnham, Illinois. The purpose of the assault was to maintain and increase their position in the Latin Kings, the indictment states. The soldiers are identified in the indictment as Fernando Chavez, 31, of Lansing, Illinois; Israel Mata, 33, most recently in state custody in Indiana on firearm charges; and Edgar Gonzalez, 32, of Whiting, Indiana. Chavez is a convicted felon who is also charged with illegally possessing a .38-caliber pistol in Chicago in the summer of 2014, the indictment states.
Several other firearm-related offenses are charged in the indictment. A chapter soldier, Roy Vega, 33, of Chicago, is charged with brandishing and discharging a firearm during a violent assault on July 5, 2014, in Chicago. Paul Vasquez is charged with attempting to transfer a loaded Tec-DC9 semi-automatic pistol to other Latin King members on Oct. 25, 2015, in Chicago, according to the indictment. Delgado is charged with being a felon in possession of a loaded Tauras .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol in Chicago, the indictment states. Delgado also faces a drug-related charge for allegedly distributing cocaine in Chicago in April 2014.
Also charged in the indictment is Juan Jimenez, 33, of Blue Island, Illinois, who allegedly served as the Southeast Regional Treasurer. Jimenez collected dues from the chapters as a way of financially supporting the activities of the region, the indictment states.
“M-Town” Section (Melrose Park and Maywood)
U.S.A. v. Gennell, et al, 16 CR 462
Included within the Midwest Region of the Latin Kings were numerous sections of the gang, including the Maywood section and the Melrose Park section, which collectively were referred to as the “M-Town” section. The geographical location controlled by the Maywood section included the area east of 25th Avenue, west of 1st Avenue, north of Lake Street, and south of North Avenue, in the western suburbs of Maywood and Melrose Park, according to the indictment.
The M-Town section was divided into two groups, known as “circles,” the indictment states. A group of older members were referred to as the “junior” circle or “older” circle, while a group of younger members were referred to as the “Pee-Wee” or “Shorty” circle. During periods when the M-Town section was split into an older and younger circle, each circle had its own set of leaders, but the ranking members of the younger circle still reported to the ranking members of the older circle, according to the indictment.
The hierarchy within the M-Town section was similar to the rankings in other Latin King sections, including the roles of Incas, Caciques, Enforcers, Soldiers and others, the indictment states. Several leaders of the M-Section, including the following three Incas and three Caciques, have been charged in the indictment: Piere Paolo Gennell, 30, of Melrose Park, and Jose F. Hernandez, 45, of Maywood, both of whom served at various times as Inca of the older circle; and David Perez, 26, of Melrose Park, an Inca of the younger circle. The Caciques include older circle members Ulises De La Cruz, 28, of Melrose Park, and Miguel Martinez, 31, of Grayslake; and younger circle Cacique Ruben Moreno, 24, of Melrose Park.
Gennell and Perez, along with two younger circle enforcers and a soldier, are charged in the indictment with attempting to murder an individual in Melrose Park on May 11, 2014, according to the indictment. During the attempted murder, the two enforcers, Efrain Medina, 26, of Maywood, and Jose Pena, 21, of Melrose Park, personally discharged a firearm that left the victim badly injured and permanently disfigured, according to the indictment.
Edgar Velarde-Saldana, 33, of Maywood, a soldier in the younger circle of the M-Town section, is charged in the indictment with attempting to murder a Melrose Park police officer on July 6, 2014. The officer was assisting FBI agents at the time of the attempted killing, according to the indictment. The following month, Velarde-Saldana brandished and discharged a .45-caliber pistol during the course of a separate violent crime in Maywood, the indictment states.
Several other firearm-related offenses are charged in the indictment. Perez is facing gun charges for being a felon in possession of five pistols, a shotgun and a rifle in Maywood, Melrose Park and Hinsdale in the summer of 2014, according to the indictment. Mario A. Hernandez, 41, of Maywood, is a convicted felon who allegedly illegally possessed a Smith & Wesson 556-caliber rifle.
The investigations were 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 indictments contain only charges and are 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.
The racketeering conspiracy charge generally carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but a life sentence is possible for certain underlying racketeering activities referenced in the indictments.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Wallach, Derek Owens and Vikas Didwania, Northern District of Illinois, are representing the government in the Cavillo, et al, case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennie Levin, Matthew Hernandez and Morris Pasqual, Northern District of Illinois, are representing the government in the Gennell, et al, case.
Significant investigative assistance was provided by the following Illinois agencies: Melrose Park Police Department, Maywood Police Department, Cook County Sheriff's Police Department, Joliet Police Department, Evergreen Park Police Department, Bolingbrook Police Department, Orland Park Police Department, and Palos Park Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the Hammond (Indiana) Police Department, and the East Chicago (Indiana) Police Department.