CHICAGO – Federal authorities announced the Chicago arrest of the top boss of the Latin Kings and the dismantling of the gang’s operations in the city’s Mexican neighborhood of La Villita (Little Village).
Agustin Zambrano, 49, known as “Big Tino” or “Old Man,” was nabbed together with another 17 members of the gang by agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
All are in federal custody, the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said.
The gangbangers under arrest, according to the communique, sought to make money out of drug trafficking and enforced their power through murder and the threat of murder, as they did in practicing extortion against members of a La Villita gang that sold forged documents.
Zambrano, one of the “coronas” (crowns) or bosses of the gang, was arrested Wednesday and accused of conspiring to distribute the painkiller Vicodin illegally.
A sworn statement by the FBI in the case identified Zambrano as the Latin Kings’ “highest-ranking leader outside of prison and responsible for overseeing the illegal activities of all factions of the powerful Chicago street gang.”
The gang’s founder, Gustavo “Gino” Colon, was sentenced to life in prison for murder in the year 2000.
Zambrano’s arrest took place as part of an ATF operation that last year put behind bars the “supreme Inca” or the gang’s No. 2 leader, Fernando “Ace” King.
That was brought about by using the testimony of informers who recorded secret meetings of the gang, one of them held near Chicago Midway Airport.
In Zambrano’s case, according to the FBI, the informer had been a member of the Latin Kings since 1993 and was one of the gang’s nationwide bosses.
That informer received 100 Vicodin pills from Zambrano to sell in November 2007, and federal agents helped him make an audio recording of the moment he turned over to the gang boss his share of the take.
That testimony figured in the drug-trafficking accusation against Zambrano and another individual who was not identified.
“To enforce the Latin Kings’ grip on the community and control over its members and associates, defendants charged in the racketeering conspiracy count allegedly kept victims in fear of the gang and its leaders by enforcing what it referred to as an ‘SOS’ – or shoot on sight – order against Latin Kings members who cooperated with law enforcement,” Fitzgerald’s office said.
Police estimate that the Latin Kings has some 18,000 members in Chicago, chiefly of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin.
The gang started about 30 years ago in the Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park and currently operates in almost all of the city’s Hispanic communities. EFE