Feds indict more NWI gang members
BY Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org November 18, 2011 5:28PM
Chicago Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy (left) and James Trusty, Chief of Organized Crime & Gang Section of U.S. Department of Justice, (right) listen as United States Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana speaks during a press conference announcing indictments against Latin King members and associates, including two Chicago police officers, at the Federal Courthouse in Hammond, Ind. Friday November 18, 2011. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Police are still seeking two of the defendants in the case, who are being called fugitives. They are:
David “Flaco” Lira, 38. He has known addresses of 9047 S. Muskegon, Apt. 2, Chicago; 2008 W. 23rd Road, Chicago; 8729 S. Burley, Apt. 2, Chicago; and 15714 Lathrop, Harvey, Ill.
Paulino “Chino” Salazar, 29. He has known addresses of 1430 Brandywine Court, Crown Point; 10129 S. Ave. N, Chicago; 18247 Roy, Lansing, Ill.; and 8328 Baker St., Apt. 1, Chicago
Anyone with information on the fugitives is asked to call the U.S. Marshals Service at 852-6776, the FBI at (317) 595-4000 or the ATF at 755-6310.
Updated: December 20, 2011 8:06AM
A federal indictment against alleged members of the Latin Kings has grown again and now encompasses illegal activity during the past 21 years, including 19 killings and two allegedly corrupt Chicago police officers accused of using their badges to rob people in Northwest Indiana and Illinois.
U.S. Attorney David Capp on Friday announced the expanded indictment, which charges 21 people with conspiracy to take part in racketeering, on the heels of another gang indictment announced last week against the Imperial Gangsters.
“The indictment shows the reach of this criminal organization,” Capp said.
The defendants are accused of taking part in drug trafficking, murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and weapons violations, acts that mostly took place in Chicago and Indiana but stretched as far away as Texas, Capp said.
Six people were charged in the case a year and a half ago, including Alexander Vargas, 34, of Highland, and six Illinois residents. That indictment included the 2007 shooting deaths of James Walsh and Gonzalo Diaz, believed to be leaders of the rival gang Latin Dragons, outside a Griffith restaurant.
The expanded indictment claims the defendants have been conspiring since 1989, when defendant Sisto Bernal, 45, of Chicago, was caught with cocaine and co-defendant Martin Anaya, 41, of Chicago, beat someone for trying to leave the gang.
The gang would often resort to killing people, whether to settle disputes over territory or because the person was a member of a rival gang, according to the indictment. Five of the charged murders took place in Northwest Indiana, according to the indictment, including the deaths of Walsh and Diaz.
The gang allegedly used two Chicago Police Department officers, Alex Guerrero, 41, of Chicago, and Antonio Martinez Jr., 40, of Chicago, to help them steal, according to the indictment. The men would take orders from Bernal and use their uniforms and badges to pull over people or enter houses.
The indictment cites an instance in 2006 when the two officers allegedly gained entry into an East Chicago house, claiming they were there on police business. They then took $20,000 to $25,000 in drug money, according to the indictment, and gave it to Bernal, who in turn paid them $3,000 to $4,000. They did the same thing to homes in Chicago, Hammond and raided the residence of Walsh two months before he was gunned down in 2007, the indictment states. They received at least $10,000 to steal guns, hundreds of pounds of drugs and tens of thousands of dollars, the indictment claims.
Killings from Indiana
to Illinois to Texas
Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he was disgusted at the two officers, pointing out that the majority of Chicago officers put their lives on the line daily to fight violent crime and have taken 3,000 guns off the street since he became superintendent six months ago.
“I’m glad that these officers are arrested,” he said. “We have to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Capp said complex cases like this one that involve gangs are already hard enough to investigate, especially because it’s hard to find witnesses and then to get them to talk. Having corrupt police officers in the mix makes it infinitely harder, he said.
Martinez resigned from the department two years ago, Capp said, because of medical reasons, but Guerrero was on patrol Thursday when he was arrested. Officials said they didn’t know if either of the officers were on the clock when any of the alleged thefts happened.
Five local people were also charged in the new indictment, including Hammond residents Sergio Robles, 23; Santiago Gudino, 27; Oscar Gonzalez, 21, and Victor Meza, 23. East Chicago resident Antonio Gudino, 30, was also charged.
Santiago Gudino and Robles are accused of killing Mark Balnius in 2003 in Chicago. Later that year, Santiago Gudino, Robles and Gabriel Jalomos, 24, of Chicago, took Jonathan Zimmerman from Chicago to Hammond, where they shot and killed him in retaliation for a drug buy involving counterfeit money, according to the indictment.
The indictment also expands on details about a trip that Bernal, Vargas and co-defendant Hilutario Chavez, 41, of Chicago, made to Texas in 2005 to enforce orders against a Latin Kings division there and to teach them tips on avoiding police. Bernal threatened the members there to follow the Chicago branch’s orders or “they would be ‘smashed,’ ” the indictment says. Chavez went back later that year to get guns from the branch, according to the indictment, and Bernal gave orders in 2009 for a drive-by shooting in Big Spring, Texas, which killed two people, including a pregnant woman.
Charges put ‘significant dent’ in gang activity
The indictment goes on to claim Vargas used gang members to seek vengeance for the killing of his brother. Co-defendant Brandon Clay is accused of killing two Latin Dragon members, including Edward Delatorre, in November 2006 in Chicago, according to the indictment. Then, after Vargas failed at having his fellow members kill more Latin Dragon members at Delatorre’s funeral, the indictment claims, he directed his members to kill even more Latin Dragon members.
That led to the shooting deaths of Walsh and Diaz a few months later, according to the indictment.
The murder counts against Vargas, Clay, Ortiz, Anaya and co-defendant Ivan Quiroz, 30, of Posen, Ill., all made them eligible for the death penalty. However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder already previously ruled this year that the government would not seek that sentence against them. However, because Robles, Jalomos, Gonzalez, Santiago Gudino and co-defendants Emiliano Esparza, 40, of Chicago, and Paulino Salazar, 29, of Chicago, are also charged with federal murder crimes, the process automatically will start with them. A final decision rests with Holder, though.
Serina Arambula, 22, of Chicago; Bianca Fernandez, 22, of Chicago; and David Lira, 38, of Lansing, Ill., are also charged in the conspiracy, as is one more unnamed defendant. Lira and Salazar have not been arrested yet, and police are asking that anyone who has any information on them report it to the FBI or the U.S. Marshals Service.
The six defendants who were arrested in connection to the original case have already been ordered held without detention, and Capp said federal prosecutors would ask at detention hearings set for next week that the rest of the defendants also be denied bond.
Capp said the arrests put a “significant dent” in the Latin Kings in the area, noting that many of those arrested can be considered leaders.