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.
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
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