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Feds urge light sentences for cooperating Latin Kings leaders

Updated: June 2, 2013 6:29AM



Federal attorneys say two Latin Kings leaders who pleaded guilty to racketeering and dealing hundreds of pounds of marijuana and cocaine have cooperated enough that they should not serve the recommended life in prison.

Instead, they suggest in two sentencing memorandums filed in U.S. District Court in Hammond, that Sisto Bernal of Chicago and Jose Zambrano, 33, of Sauk Village, Ill., should serve 288 months and 240 months, respectively, in prison.

Bernal and Zambrano were among the first defendants named in the case, which claimed that the Latin Kings sold drugs in Chicago’s South Side and Northwest Indiana during the past two decades.

The case also claimed the Latin Kings used violence, including murdering people, to control their territories.

Indictments claimed Bernal, one of the gang’s top leaders, helped plan the murders of rival gang leaders James Walsh and Gonzalo Diaz outside a Griffith restaurant in 2007 and also traveled to Latin Kings branches in Texas to get them in order.

Zambrano, also a high-ranking leader in the area, was one of the first defendants to plead guilty, including admitting responsibility for two murders.

The case grew from the original six defendants to more than 20 after Zambrano started cooperating with the government.

The new filings do not say specifically why their sentences should go below the recommended life in prison.

Zambrano’s attorney, Michael Bosch, argues in his own filing that his client should serve just 180 months in prison, noting that Zambrano’s father was convicted of murder shortly after Zambrano was born and that his grandparents kicked him out of their house when he was just 12, leaving him to fend for himself.

The Latin Kings soon took him in, his attorney says in a filing.

“He never had a chance,” Bosch writes.

Bosch also notes Zambrano’s early and continual cooperation, including testifying at the trial of a co-defendant..

Zambrano and Bernal are both scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, although Bernal has requested a continuance because of a schedule conflict with his attorney.



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