HAMMOND, Ind. – A Latin Kings street gang member was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy and other crimes in support of the gang. Two other gang associates were sentenced Monday on related charges. These sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's (DOJ) Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana.
The sentences resulted from an investigation conducted by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the National Gang Intelligence Center; Chicago Police Department; and the Indiana police departments of East Chicago, Griffith, Highland, Hammond and Houston.
David Lira, aka "Flaco," 39, of Chicago, was sentenced Nov. 28 to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty July 13 to racketeering conspiracy. Gang associates Bianca Fernandez, 23, and Serina Arambula, 23, both of Chicago, were sentenced Nov. 26 to 36 months and 21 months in prison, respectively. U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano, Northern District of Indiana, imposed the sentences.
Fernandez pleaded guilty Aug. 8 to conspiring to murder in aid of racketeering. Arambula pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to withholding information on a murder.
According to the third superseding indictment filed in this case, the Latin Kings is a nationwide gang that originated in Chicago and has branched out throughout the United States. The Latin Kings is a well-organized street gang that has specific leadership and is composed of regions that include multiple chapters. The third superseding indictment charges that the Latin Kings were responsible for more than 20 murders.
Also according to the third superseding indictment, the Latin Kings enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the Latin Kings. Members are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, including taking on assignments often referred to as "missions."
During his guilty plea proceeding, Lira admitted to being a Latin Kings member at an early age. He also acknowledged he was aware that the Latin Kings, specifically some of his co-defendants, distributed more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana over the course of the racketeering conspiracy.
Lira also acknowledged that on Feb. 24, 2007, Jose Zambrano, a regional enforcer for the gang, and other Latin Kings members dropped two firearms off at Lira's residence in Lansing, Ill. The next evening, Zambrano and the others returned to retrieve the weapons from Lira before riding to the Soprano's Bar in Griffith, Ind., where they gunned down and killed two rival gang members.
Fernandez admitted in court that on Nov. 26, 2006, at the direction of a Latin Kings member, she accompanied two members of the rival Latin Dragons gang to Jackson Park, Ill., near La Rabida Children's Hospital on the south side of Chicago. Fernandez also admitted to making arrangements for Latin Kings gang members to meet them at the location, where those gang members shot the Latin Dragons gang members, killing one. Fernandez admitted that when interviewed by Chicago police, she concealed the true nature of the murder.
During her guilty plea proceeding, Arambula admitted accompanying Fernandez and the Latin Dragon members to Jackson Park, and providing false information to Chicago police regarding the identity of the shooters.
Twenty-three Latin Kings members and associates have been indicted in this case; 20 have pleaded guilty; one was found guilty following a jury trial; one awaits trial; and one remains a fugitive.
Joseph A. Cooley of the DOJ Criminal Division's Organized Crime and Gang Section and David J. Nozick of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Indiana are prosecuting the case. Andrew Porter of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois provided significant assistance.
The third superseding indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants who have not been convicted are innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.