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Feds target Latin Kings in freshly unsealed indictments

U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon at dais with police Supt. Eddie Johnson (left) on July 26, 2016. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Almighty Latin King Nation street gang operates with corporate precision, the feds say.

Members meet, pay chapter dues and honor the group’s “manifesto” or “constitution.”

But when they gather, they allegedly plan murders. New members endure vicious beatings, authorities say. And if a Latin King steps out of line, he could be subject to an “SOS” order: “Shoot on sight.”reputed

Now, in a massive gang takedown announced Tuesday crossing state lines, federal authorities have unsealed a set of sweeping indictments targeting more than 60 alleged Latin King members in Illinois and Indiana. Three dozen alleged Latin Kings face charges in Illinois, and many have already been rounded up.

One allegedly tried to kill a Melrose Park cop.

“The cases are ultimately about one thing, and that is violence,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said. “Gang violence. Gun violence. Senseless violence. The type of violence that plagues our communities, our neighborhoods, in Chicago and beyond.”

A pair of racketeering indictments filed in Chicago are filled with allegations of murder, arson, assault and extortion. They are littered with nicknames for the many defendants, including “Smokey,” “Monster,” “Terrorist,” “Bowser,” “Tommy Gunns” and “Sin.”

The defendants all allegedly served a street-gang organization divided by regions and led by “officers,” “incas,” “enforcers” and “treasurers.” The regions are further divided into chapters, and the “Regional Crown Council” resolves their disputes, according to the feds. The Illinois indictments focus on Chicago’s Southeast Side and the western suburbs of Maywood and Melrose Park, known to the Latin Kings as “M-Town.”

Key among those charged are three of the Latin Kings’ alleged regional enforcers on the Southeast Side: Raul “Ra Ra” Cavillo, 33; Joel “Shorty” Nunez, 39, and Carlos “Little Poppy” Padilla Jr., 35, all of Chicago. High-ranking alleged “incas” from the “M-Town” area identified in the other indictment are Piere Paolo “P” Gennell, 30, of Melrose Park; Jose F. “Nene” Hernandez, 45, of Maywood, and David “Monster” Perez, 26, of Melrose Park.

Edgar “Chapo” Velarde-Saldana, 33, of Maywood, a so-called “soldier” in “M-Town,” is also charged with trying to kill a Melrose Park police officer on July 6, 2014. The indictment said the officer was assisting the FBI at the time, but it gives no further detail.

Racketeering conspiracies generally carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but life sentences are possible for some of the activities mentioned in the indictments.

Fardon said at a news conference the investigation culminating in the two indictments began in 2013, and it included secretly recorded wiretap evidence. Though he couldn’t estimate the amount of manpower that went into the sting, it took him a full minute just to recognize the many people who joined him in front of the TV cameras representing various law enforcement agencies — including the FBI and other federal officials from Chicago, northwest Indiana and Indianapolis, as well as the Chicago, Melrose Park, East Chicago and Gary police departments.

“We are sending a clear message,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said, “that if you choose a lifestyle that fuels the engine of violence in our city, you will be held accountable for those actions.”

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks about two federal indictments charging 34 members of the Latin Kings street gang with participating in a criminal organization during a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building, Tuesday afternoon, July 26,
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks about two federal indictments charging 34 members of the Latin Kings street gang with participating in a criminal organization during a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building, Tuesday afternoon, July 26, 2016. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times