Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Feds arrest Latin Kings gang leader

By Jeff Coen
and Rudolph Bush
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 5, 2006, 9:06 PM CST

A Chicago man described by federal authorities as "the CEO of the Latin Kings Nation on the South Side" was taken into custody early Tuesday, capping a three-year investigation into the operations of the violent street gang.

Fernando "Ace" King was among 18 gang members whose arrests were announced Tuesday by U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. King had the title of "Supreme Inca," running the gang's drug empire on the city's South Side and the south suburbs, officials said. There are only a small circle of leaders above him, including Gustavo "Gino" Colon, the gang's imprisoned head, officials said.

"It may seem pretty cool to be a Supreme Inca when you're the leader on the street of a gang until the title 'Supreme Inca' becomes 'lead defendant,'" Fitzgerald said.

The Latin Kings operate in seven regions in Chicago, including the southwest and northwest suburbs, authorities said.

King is one of 38 members and associates charged in the case after investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used wiretaps and undercover drug purchases to crack the gang's operations.

He was charged with intent to distribute cocaine as part of "Operation Broken Crown," which is billed as the most significant federal effort against the Latin Kings since the takedown of Colon in 1998.

Others in the case are charged with a wide range of drug and gun violations.

The investigation began in 2003, when a longtime gang member agreed to cooperate and provided investigators with access to the organization's structure, authorities said. About 90 guns were seized during the probe, along with more than 15 kilograms of cocaine.

Investigators said they hoped the case would have an effect in many of the subregions controlled by King.

"I think at this point we've pretty much decapitated the Latin Kings on the South Side," said Andrew Traver, special agent in charge of the Chicago ATF.

Traver said support in executing arrest warrants early Tuesday came from a variety of federal agencies, the Cook County sheriff's office and police in Summit, Hickory Hills, Stickney and Orland Park.

King's alleged second in command, 29-year-old Anthony Compean of Cicero, was charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine.

Compean, known on the street as "Loks," was charged after a cooperating gang member was arrested by the ATF early this year and decided to help investigators.

The gang member, who was not identified, has a rap sheet that includes a 1997 attempted murder conviction in Cook County and a 1999 drug conviction in Texas. He told authorities he knew Compean as a Latin Kings leader in "Chi-Town" and agreed to record drug transactions with him, according to a criminal complaint against Compean.

During a March meeting at the gang member's house, Compean agreed to sell the man a half-kilogram of cocaine for $10,000, the complaint states.

Compean's lawyer, Todd Pugh, declined to comment Tuesday, saying he has not had a chance to read the complaint.Oscar Diaz, 32, of Blue Island, the alleged southwest regional leader of the gang, was charged with providing a Russian assault rifle to a cooperating witness in November, a gun delivered to Elmhurst.

Danny "Fat Danny" Aguilar, 29, of Justice, the gang's alleged regional enforcer, was charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs.

In the case against King, a former gang member cooperating with federal agents recorded conversations with King in which drug deals were discussed, according to a criminal complaint released Tuesday.

On Monday, the informant provided King with a kilogram of what King thought was cocaine, leading to his arrest and the charges against him. The informant told agents that he understood King to report to no one but the gang's highest echelon.

An attorney for King could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fitzgerald said authorities hoped investigations such as the one that ended Tuesday would send a message to would-be gang leaders that such a position comes with a price.

New Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said the case should also be a warning for suburban residents that street gangs are entrenched in their neighborhoods too."

For those people who still feel for some reason that gang crime is centered in the city of Chicago and does not touch suburban Cook County, if this is not their wake-up call, I don't know what they're looking for," Dart said. "Gangs do not see borders."


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