‘Operation Throne Down’ results in charges against dozens of Latin Kings leaders

BOSTON (AP/WHDH) — Federal authorities announced racketeering, drug and firearms charges on Thursday against more than 60 members of the Latin Kings, including the leaders of the street gang’s East Coast operations, following “Operation Throne Down,” which was the largest takedown in FBI Boston history.

Among those arrested is Michael Cecchetelli, a 40-year-old Springfield, Massachusetts resident with ties to the Genovese crime family who oversaw the gang’s operations from Massachusetts down to Florida, according to Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI’s Boston office.

Authorities said Cecchetelli and other gang leaders ran the gang with a Mafia-style hierarchy, with a council of leaders and as many as 11 chapters across Massachusetts alone. They say the leadership approach has become a model for other Latin Kings regions in the country.

The Latin Kings have also grown to become the largest gang in Massachusetts prisons, with an estimated 400 members, including leaders who face charges for continuing to coordinate criminal activity outside the prison, authorities said.

“It’s a big hit precisely because we are able to take out all of the leadership,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of the five-year investigation by the FBI and the State Department. “It will be extremely difficult for the gang to regroup in the region.”

A lawyer who represented Cecchetelli in a prior federal case didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

The majority of Thursday morning’s arrests took place across Massachusetts, but some gang members and associates were also arrested in Rhode Island and Connecticut, Bonavolonta said. The gang’s operations also stretched into New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.

There were 54 people apprehended Thursday, of which nine were already in custody and eight others are still being sought in a predawn raid that included more than 500 law enforcement officers, he said.

Most face federal racketeering charges for allegedly trafficking drugs, laundering money and committing assaults, robberies and other violent crimes and conspiring to commit more than ten murders. Others face gun possession charges.

Authorities also seized dozens of firearms, thousands of dollars worth of cash, drugs and vehicles and three properties in the crackdown.

Bonavolonta said the gang distributed drugs and shot music videos boasting about their exploits from the New Bedford, Massachusetts, properties while the property owner helped launder money and conceal their operations.

Bonavolonta said the multi-year investigation involved an informant who infiltrated the gang’s high-level meetings.

He also said Thursday’s indictment includes a former Boston high school dean already serving a prison sentence for shooting a student he’d recruited to deal drugs in the school.

Authorities say Shaun Harrison was a full-fledged Latin Kings member who continued his gang activity behind bars, helping the gang try to identify police informants. His lawyer from his prior criminal case didn’t respond to a call seeking comment Thursday.

The Almighty Latin Kings and Queen Nation is considered the oldest and largest predominantly Latino street gang in the country, tracing its roots to the 1960s in Chicago, where authorities say it is still headquartered.

Charged were:

Michael Cecchetelli, a.k.a. King Merlin

Esther Ortiz, a.k.a. Queen India, of Meriden, Connecticut

Hector Manuel Vega, a.k.a. King Demon, Britain Connecticut

Jorge Rodriguez, a.k.a. King G

Michael Marrero, King Clumsy

Francisco Lopez, a.k.a. King Cisco, of Chelsea, Massachusetts

Gregory Peguero-Colon a.k.a. King Trece, of Springfield, Massachusetts

Juan Liberato, a.k.a. King Prodigy, of Haverhill, Massachusetts

Angel Roldan, a.k.a. King Big-A and Nelty, of Lowell, Massachusetts

Frutuoso Barros, a.k.a. King Fruity

Sandra Correa, a.k.a. Queen Dream, of Peabody, Massachusetts

Shaun Harrison, a.k.a. Rev

Vincent Dzierwinski, a.k.a. King Vice

Wilson Peguero, a.k.a. King Dubb, of Dorchester, Massachusetts

Alexis Peguero, a.k.a. King Lexi/Looney, of Dorchester, Massachusetts

Matthew Palacios, a.k.a. King Nene

Steven Familia-Valez, a.k.a. King Haze, of Mattapan, Massachusetts

Dante Lara, a.k.a. King Nasty, of Providence, Rhode Island

Robert Lara, a.k.a. King Rizz, of Chelsea, Massachusetts

Angel Abymael Ortiz, a.k.a. King Abby, of Randolph, Massachusetts

Angel Rodriguez, a.k.a. King Ace, Dorchester, Massachusetts

Alexis Velasquez, a.k.a. King Booboo, of Dorchester, Massachusetts

Angel Calderon, a.k.a. King Bam,

Oscar Pena, a.k.a. King O-Block

Jose Rodriguez, a.k.a. King Strutter, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Orlando Santiago-Torres, a.k.a. King Landi

Robert Avitabile, a.k.a. Bobby

Taliyah Barboza, a.k.a. Queen Taliyah, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Josue Carrasquillo, a.k.a. King Playboy, of Springfield, Massachusetts

Michael Cotto, a.k.a. King Gordo, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Juan Figueroa, a.k.a. King Pun, of Dorchester, Massachusetts

Issac Felix-Rivera, a.k.a. King Izzy

Kevin Guadalupe, a.k.a. King Milly, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Shelton Johnson, a.k.a. King Shells, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tyson Jorge, a.k.a. King Music

Emanuel Lopez-Velez, a.k.a. King Manny

Luis Mendez, a.k.a. King Primo

Raekwan Paris, a.k.a. King D-Bo

Jayco Reyes-Smith, a.k.a. King Javy

Luis Santiago, a.k.a. King Tiny

Roberto Vargas, a.k.a. King Royalty

Jose Vasquez, a.k.a. King Fearless

Natanel Velazquez, a.k.a. King Nael, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Israel Rodriguez, a.k.a. King Imperial, of Lynn, Massachusetts

Alfred Nieves, a.k.a. King Alfy, of Lowell, Massachusetts

Marlon Rivera, a.k.a. King Plato

Ines Lugo, a.k.a. Queen China, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Jeremia Medina, a.k.a. King Sweepy, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Bienvenido Nunez, a.k.a. King Apache, of Enfield, Connecticut

Tamairy Ruiz, a.k.a. Queen Tanairy, of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Xavier Valentin-Soto, a.k.a. King X

Joel Francisco, a.k.a. King Casper

Eric Thomas, a.k.a. King E

Alvin Mojica, a.k.a. King Humble

Sophia Velasquez, a.k.a. Queen Sophia

Dairon Rivera, a.k.a. King Mafia

Hector Adorno, a.k.a. King Gordo

Jesus Diaz, a.k.a. King Kiko

Henry Caribe, a.k.a. King 40cal

Jonathan Cassiano, a.k.a. King Legend

Antonio Goodson

Derek Southworth

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