Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The second highest-ranking leader nationwide of the Latin Kings street gang was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison after being convicted at trial in 2011 of racketeering conspiracy (RICO) and related charges involving narcotics trafficking and violence that plagued numerous neighborhoods on the city’s north, south, and west sides. The defendant, Vicente Garcia, Jr., 35, the “Supreme Regional Inca” of the Almighty Latin King Nation, who oversaw the day-to-day illegal activities of all factions of the gang with some 10,000 members in Illinois alone, has been in federal custody since late 2008 and must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
The sentence was imposed Friday by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle, who also ordered five years of supervised release after Garcia’s prison term ends.
Garcia, also known as “DK” or “Disciple Killer,” together with Augustin Zambrano, the leader, or “Corona,” of the Latin Kings, and two additional defendants were found guilty in April 2011 of running a criminal enterprise to enrich themselves and others through drug trafficking and preserving and protecting their power, territory, and revenue through acts of murder, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, extortion, and other acts of violence.
“This sentence holds Garcia accountable for the barbaric enterprise known as the Latin Kings and his role in murder, attempted murder, shootings, beatings, drug trafficking, and other crimes,” said Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Zambrano, 52, was sentenced to 60 years in prison in January 2012. Two other co-defendants convicted at the same trial also received substantial prison terms. Jose Guzman, a former “Nation Enforcer” in the 26th Street, or Little Village, faction, was sentenced to 35 years in prison, and Alphonso Chavez, the “Inca,” or leader of the gang’s 31st and Drake faction, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Another co-defendant, Fernando “Ace” King, who preceded Garcia as Supreme Regional Inca and pleaded guilty, was sentenced in October 2011 to 40 years in prison.
Trial evidence included audio and video recordings of three beatings inflicted upon gang members for violating the rules and testimony documenting three murders and 20 shootings in the Little Village area. In addition to RICO conspiracy, Garcia was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon and using a firearm during a violent crime.
Garcia was among a total of 31 co-defendants who were indicted in September 2008 or charged in a superseding indictment in October 2009. Of those 31 defendants, 24 pleaded guilty, four were convicted at trial, and three remain fugitives. From its origin and base in the west side Little Village community, the Latin Kings spread throughout Chicago and Illinois and established branches in other states, where local leaders acted with some autonomy but adhered to the rules and hierarchy of the Chicago gang, according to the evidence in the five-week federal trial.
The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, together with Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Larry Ford, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Police also had significant roles in the investigation, which was conducted through the federal High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
In late 2006, ATF agents led an investigation that resulted in federal drug trafficking and firearms charges against 38 Latin Kings members and associates. In 2008, the FBI led an investigation that resulted in state and federal charges against 40 Latin Kings members and associates, including a dozen of the Zambrano co-defendants. In total, more than 80 Latin Kings members and associates have faced state or federal charges since 2006. The convictions result from a sustained, coordinated effort by federal law enforcement agencies, working together with the Chicago Police Department and other state and local partners, to dismantle the hierarchy of the Latin Kings and other highly organized, often violent Chicago street gangs.
Garcia and Zambrano were the highest-ranking Latin Kings to be convicted and sentenced since Gustavo “Gino” Colon, who also holds the title of “Corona,” was sentenced to life in prison in 2000.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Porter, Nancy DePodesta, and Tinos Diamantatos.