19 alleged gang members in Md. face federal charges
Friday, November 20, 2009
Maryland authorities announced federal racketeering charges Thursday against 19 alleged members of the violent Latin Kings gang who are accused in robberies, beatings and murder plots.
The men, who called themselves the Royal Lion Tribe of Maryland, tossed molotov cocktails at an occupied house in Rockville, agreed to kill a security guard at a Langley Park apartment complex and beat another gang member for breaking the group's rules, according to authorities and an indictment handed up in federal court in Greenbelt.
The alleged gang members, six of whom were arrested early Thursday in Maryland by police and federal agents, are accused in the robbery of a prostitute at a Laurel motel and the home invasion robbery of a drug dealer. Two defendants were arrested in New York, and 10 were already in custody. The other suspect, Remy David Heath, also known as King Remy or King Mellow, is a fugitive.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said federal and local authorities worked together to target the local leaders of the gang to weaken the enterprise. He said that 10 search warrants were executed Thursday morning and that the investigation is continuing. "Our goal is to make communities safer here in Maryland," he said.
The racketeering indictment offers a window into the local operations of the Latin Kings, which operates nationally and internationally. Its members allegedly follow a "manifesto" created by the national leadership, gather at regular meetings and pay dues.
The indictment doesn't spell out how it made money, but the Latin Kings have been associated with drug rings in other areas.
Authorities allege that the Maryland arm of the gang got its start in spring 2007 when two alleged members, Miguel Cruz, who goes by King Skibee, and Erik Roman, known as King Malian-T, established the state chapter.
The indictment alleges that Roman ordered the firebombing. Along with other members, the court papers say, he "hunted for members" of the rival MS-13 gang with the intent of shooting them.
In June 2007, Roman traveled to Chicago to meet with Latin King leaders. Members of the gang also went to New York to "discuss Latin King business" in August 2008, the indictment alleges. And in October, gang members went to Philadelphia to meet with that city's members.
In October 2008, the indictment alleges, one member, Francisco Ortiz, issued a "d.o.," or direct order, to his troops. Fearing that the police wanted to arrest them on racketeering charges, gang members were ordered to clear their MySpace pages of any photos of "hammers," slang for guns, or knives they had posted.