Cooperation could get Latin King gang leader 23-year sentence instead of life term
BY TERESA AUCH SCHULTZ email@example.com September 12, 2013 4:44PM
A 2010 photo of Alexander Vargas, of Highland. Accused leader of local chapter of the Latin Kings A Highland man accused of leading a local chapter of the Latin Kings street gang will stay in jail pending his trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond. Judge Andrew Rodovich made the ruling after hearing testimony that Alexander Vargas, 33, initiated a 2007 Griffith double homicide in retaliation for members of rival gang Latin Dragons killing Vargas' brother in 2006. U.S. prosecutors argued that Vargas and co-defendant Sisto Bernal, 44, of Chicago, be denied bond because of what they might try to do if released. An indictment accuses them each with one count of racketeering in connection with their alleged criminal activities with the Latin Kings. Photo provided to the Post-Tribune
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:14AM
Federal attorneys want a 23-year prison term for a Highland man who testified in court about how he trafficked thousands of pounds of drugs and, as a leader of the local Latin Kings, ordered the killings of multiple people, including two rival gang leaders outside a Griffith restaurant in 2007.
Sentencing guidelines actually call for Alexander Vargas, who pleaded guilty to racketeering, drug trafficking and murdering two people, to serve a mandatory term of life in prison.
However, as with other defendants in the Latin Kings racketeering case, federal attorneys have filed a motion that would allow U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano to give a lighter sentence because of Vargas’ cooperation in the case. Federal attorneys have already said they would provide Vargas with witness protection.
Vargas, 35, testified against fellow defendant Martin Anaya a year ago, giving extensive testimony about his time with the Latin Kings, including almost beating someone to death when he was 13 — shortly after burning down a house.
Vargas described working his way up the leadership ranks of the Latin Kings until he became a regional “inca,” or leader, over the southern suburbs of Chicago and areas in Northwest Indiana. He eventually moved to Indiana hoping to escape police attention but admitted he was still actively involved in the gang.
Those activities included ordering the killings of rival gang members as retaliation whenever one of his members was killed.
“Me being a leader, I was still ordering a lot of murders,” he testified during the trial.
After his brother, who was not part of the gang, was shot and killed by members of the Latin Dragons in 2006, he turned the full force of his 100 soldiers on retribution, not caring if he had to sacrifice a few of them in retaliation.
That resulted in Vargas and several other gang leaders organizing an attack on Joe Walsh and Gonzalo Diaz, leaders of the Latin Dragons, as they left a Griffith restaurant in February 2007. The two men were shot to death by Vargas’ co-defendants as he watched from a car.
A 23-year sentence for Vargas would be a year less than the one given to co-defendant Sisto Bernal, another top leader in the Latin Kings, who did not plead guilty to murder.
It also would be three years more than Jose Zambrano, another leader, who was one of the first to plead guilty in the case.
Vargas’ sentencing is set for Sept. 19.