Federal prosecutors in Chicago escalated their assault on the Almighty Latin King Nation on Thursday, revealing a new 20-count indictment that lays six murders dating back to 1999 at the feet of the violent street gang.
The new 53-page document also adds 14 new defendants to a prosecution that began in summer 2016. That brings to 34 the number of alleged gang members charged in an indictment that could land some of them life sentences.
Several of the new defendants were arrested this week.
The gang is also accused of three attempted murders, three arsons, robbery, extortion, witness tampering and drug dealing.
Nine alleged Latin Kings are now accused of murder. They include Jose Jaramillo, who is charged with the November 1999 murder of Jeremy Ward; Thomas Luczak, who is charged with the June 2000 murder of Juan Serratos; Juan Jimenez, who is charged with the January 2007 murder of Isiah Cintron; Geronia Ford and William Hayslette, who are charged with the May 2012 murder of Sergio Hernandez; Dean Trevino and Emanuel Mendez, who are charged with the November 2012 murder of Ismael Perez; and Alonzo Horta and Geovanni Lopez, who are charged with the April 2017 murder of Alfonso Calderon.
Trevino had previously been charged with Perez’s murder in state court. At the time, prosecutors said Trevino had been flashing gang signs to cars near 97th and Exchange, then went to a home in Whiting, Indiana, and came back with an assault rifle. They said Trevino, driving a car with a passenger in the front seat, pulled alongside Perez’s car. After the men flashed opposing gang signs, Trevino’s passenger allegedly shot Perez once in the chest.
Court records show Trevino was taken into federal custody in September 2016 — after the original indictment — and six months later, the state charges were dropped.
The new indictment against the Latin Kings also accuses Mendez, Roy Vega and Orlando Marin of attempted murder, and it accuses Vega and Hayslette of witness tampering through arson.
When the feds first brought their case against the Latin Kings in July 2016, they described a gang that operated with corporate precision. Members met, paid dues and honored a group “manifesto” or “constitution.”
But the feds also said new members endured vicious beatings. And if one stepped out of line, he could be subject to a so-called “SOS” — or “shoot on sight” — order.
Federal authorities actually announced two separate indictments at that time. Then-U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon told reporters they were the culmination of an investigation that began in 2013, which included secretly recorded wiretap evidence.
A three-month jury trial had been set for September in the case that suddenly expanded Thursday. It’s not clear whether that will be postponed given the new allegations.
A conviction for racketeering conspiracy — faced by 33 of the alleged gang members — generally carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. But a life sentence is possible for some of the defendants — especially those accused of murder.
Contributing: Mitch Armentrout