Feds: Latin Kings leader tried to help Providence murder suspect escape

SE Mass

BOSTON (WPRI) — Before the sun even came up Thursday, law enforcement officials in several Massachusetts cities and towns including New Bedford were busy arresting dozens of suspects charged in connection with a four-year investigation into the Latin Kings street gang.

During a Thursday morning news conference, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said a total of 64 people are charged in the case as part of the massive investigation specifically intended to dismantle the gang’s East Coast leadership.

He said during Thursday morning’s operation, more than 500 law enforcement officers made 47 arrests in Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, Springfield, Fitchburg, Chelsea, New Bedford, and Worcester as well as in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Lelling said eight fugitives are still on the loose and nine of the suspects – including Federal Hill stabbing suspect Joel Francisco – are already in the corrections system on other charges.

“During the four-year investigation, law enforcement developed evidence that the Latin Kings trafficked drugs, conspired to murder more than 10 victims, and committed violent crimes including numerous incidents of robbery, shootings, stabbings, and witness intimidation,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The suspected East Coast leader of the Latin Kings, Michael Cecchetelli, aka “King Merlin,” of Springfield, is among those charged. Cecchetelli has the title of Supreme East Coast Regional Overseer, Lelling said, and is the main conduit between Latin King East Coast members and the national leadership.

“Under Cecchetelli’s leadership, the influence of the Latin Kings has grown throughout Massachusetts, leading to an increase in shootings and violence in our cities and towns,” Lelling said.

Two Rhode Island men were arrested as part of this operation, including Joel Francisco.

Francisco, also known as “King Casper,” is already facing a murder count for the October stabbing of a man inside a hookah lounge in Providence.

In documents unsealed Thursday, prosecutors say Cecchetelli tried to help Francisco escape to Mexico after the murder.

Francisco was arrested in Texas and is in custody on the murder charge and as a probation violator.

Lelling said 31 search warrants at 24 locations were also executed in various locations throughout Massachusetts but focused mostly on locations in New Bedford.

Investigators, Lelling said, have seized dozens of firearms, six cars, six motorcycles, three jet skis, and an ATV. In addition, they recovered various drugs and about $38,000 in cash.

“Violence and a known pattern of witness intimidation have emboldened the Latin Kings across Massachusetts, but especially in New Bedford,” Lelling added. “Gang-related violence in New Bedford spiked during the summer and fall of 2019 with Latin King members brazenly issuing threats to rival gangs over social media.”

The Latin Kings is considered the oldest and largest predominantly Latino gangs in the country.

During the investigation, federal agents were able to infiltrate the top levels of the gang, witnessing planning sessions and gang initiations, according to Lelling.

He said during the course of the investigation, authorities were able to intervene and prevent eight murders from happening.

Suspects Charged in the Case include:

 DefendantRole
1Michael Cecchetelli, King Merlin East Coast Team,East Coast Overseer 
2Esther Ortiz, Queen IndiaMeriden, CTEast Coast Team,East Coast Crown Council Chairwoman
3Hector Manuel Vega, King DemonBritian, CTEast Coast Team,Crown Council Member, CT
4Jorge Rodriguez, King GState Team, CaciqueEnforcer (Former)
5Michael Marrero, King ClumsyState Team, EnforcerRegional Officer (Former)
6Francisco Lopez, King CiscoChelsea, Mass.State Team, Treasurer/Secretary
7Gregory Peguero-Colon, King TreceSpringfield, Mass.State Team,Crown Council Chairman
8Juan Liberato, King ProdigyHaverhill, Mass.State Team, Inca (Former)
9Angel Roldan, King Big-A and NeltyLowell, Mass.State Team, Cacique (Former)Enforcer (Former)
10Frutuoso Barros, King FruityDOC, Supreme Regional Officer
11Sandra Correa, Queen DreamPeabody, Mass.DOC, Secretary (Former)
12Shaun Harrison RevDOC, Member
13Vincent Dzierwinski, King ViceDOC, Member
14Wilson Peguero, King DubbDorchester, Mass.D5K, Inca
15Alexis Peguero, King Lexi/LooneyDorchester, Mass.D5K, Cacique
16Matthew Palacios, King NeneD5K, Enforcer
17Steven Familia-Valdez, King HazeMattapan, Mass.D5K, Member
18Dante Lara, King NastyProvidence, RID5K, Member
19Robert Lara,  King RizzChelsea, Mass.D5K, Member
20Angel Abymael Ortiz, King AbbyRandolph, Mass.D5K, Member
21Angel Rodriguez, King AceDorchester, Mass.D5K, MemberCrown Council Chairman for Boston
22Alexis Velasquez, King BoobooDorchester, Mass.MSB, Inca
23Angel Calderon, King BamMSB,(Former) State Team Head of Security
24Oscar Pena, King O-BlockD5K, Member
25Jose Rodriguez, King StutterNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Inca
26Orlando Santiago-Torres, King LandiNew Bedford, Cacique
27Robert Avitabile a/k/a BobbyNew Bedford, Associate
28Taliyah Barboza, Queen TaliyahNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Member
29Josue Carrasquillo, King PlayboySpringfield, Mass.New Bedford, Member
30Michael Cotto, King GordoNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, (Former) Regional Officer
31Juan Figueroa, King PunDorchester, Mass.New Bedford, Member
32Issac Felix-Rivera, King IzzyNew Bedford, Member
33Kevin Guadalupe, King MillyNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Member
34Shelton Johnson, King ShellsNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Member
35Tyson Jorge, King MusicNew Bedford, Member
36Emanuel Lopez-Velez, King MannyNew Bedford, Probationary Member
37Luis Mendez, King PrimoNew Bedford, Member, Incarcerated
38Raekwan Paris, King D-BoNew Bedford, Member
39Jayco Reyes-Smith, King JavyFormer New Bedford Member, now in North Carolina
40Luis Santiago, King TinyNew Bedford, Member, Incarcerated
41Roberto Vargas, King RoyaltyNew Bedford, Member
42Jose Vasquez, King FearlessNew Bedford, Member
43Natanel Velazquez, King NaelNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Member
44Israel Rodriguez, King ImperialLynn, Mass.North Shore, Inca
45Alfred Nieves, King AlfyLowell, Mass.Lowell, Inca
46Marlon Rivera, King PlutoFitchburg, MemberD5K, Founder
47Ines Lugo, Queen ChinaNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Secretary
48Jeremia Medina, King SweepyNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Enforcer
49Bienvenido Nunez, King ApacheEnfield, CTState Team, Inca
50Tanairy Ruiz, Queen TanairyNew Bedford, Mass.New Bedford, Member
51Xavier Valentin-Soto, King XNew Bedford, Member(Former) Cascique, Incarcerated
52Joel Francisco, King CasperRhode Island, Member
53Eric Thomas, King ERhode Island, Inca 
54Alvin Mojica, King HumbleWorcester, Inca
55Sophia Velasquez, Queen SophiaFitchburg, Member
 56Dairon Rivera, King MafiaFitchburg, Member
57Hector Adorno, King GordoSpringfield, Member
58Jesus Diaz, King KikoN. Shore, Member
59Henry Caribe, King 40calN. Shore, Member
60Jonathan Cassiano, King LegendSpringfield, Member
61Antoine GoodsonAssociate, gun supplier to gang
62Derek SouthworthAssociate, gun supplier to gang

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