News Release
Date: July 01, 2010
Contact: Will Taylor
Number: 312-886-2597

Federal Racketeering Conspiracy Charges Announced Against Six Alleged Members of the Latin Kings Street Gang

JUL 01 -- (Hammond) The United States Attorney’s Office, and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, announced the indictment of six individuals, alleged members of the Latin Kings, in a racketeering conspiracy on June 29, 2010.  Named in the indictment are:

Alexander Vargas, 33 (DOB 5/22/77), of Highland, Indiana

Sisto Bernal, 44 ( DOB 5/31/66), of Chicago, Illinois

Jose Zambrano,  30 (DOB 10/13/79), of Sauk Village, Illinois

Jason Ortiz, 27 (DOB 12/27/82), of Chicago, Illinois

Brandon Clay, 23 (DOB 12/28/86), of Chicago, Illinois

Jermaine Ellis, 20 (DOB 7/30/89), of Chicago, Illinois

The eight count indictment alleges a conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity from 2002 through June, 2010.   The indictment also charges Ortiz and Clay with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering activity in Griffith, Indiana, on or about February 25, 2007; one count of use and carrying of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; one count of murder resulting from the use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; one count of being a felon in possession of firearms; and one count of possession of stolen firearms.

According to the indictment, the Latin Kings are a nation-wide gang that originated in Chicago and later branched throughout the United States. It is further alleged that the Latin Kings are a well organized street gang with specific leadership that is comprised of regions, which include multiple chapters.  As alleged in the indictment, the Latin Kings enforce its rules and promote discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault, and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the Latin Kings. Members are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, including taking on assignments often referred to as “missions.”

Zambrano made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich on June 28, 2010, while Vargas, Bernal, Clay and Ortiz made their initial appearance before Judge Rodovich on June 29, 2010.  The government is seeking to detain all defendants without bond pending trial.  Ellis is currently in custody in Chicago and will be scheduled for an initial appearance on a later date. 

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center (GangTECC); the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the Griffith Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; the Highland Police Department; the Lake County, Indiana, HIDTA and the Houston, Texas Police Department. 

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Cooley of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Gang Unit, and Assistant United States Attorney David Nozick.

The specific sentence in each case to be imposed upon conviction will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statues and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The indictment is an allegation only, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea.