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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

October 1, 2009

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney

Contact: Randall Samborn, AUSA/PIO

(312) 353-5318

“Corona” Augustin Zambrano Among 18 Alleged Latin Kings Gang Leaders In Little Village Region Indicted On Federal Charges

CHICAGO — A Chicago man alleged to be a “Corona” of the Latin Kings, making him the highest-ranking leader outside of prison and responsible for overseeing the illegal activities of all factions of the powerful Chicago street gang, is among 18 defendants charged in a sweeping new federal indictment against the gang’s alleged hierarchy. Augustin Zambrano, the alleged leader of the Almighty Latin King Nation in the Chicago area and particularly on the city’s south side, and 14 other alleged leaders of the 26th Street Region of the Latin Kings were charged with racketeering conspiracy for allegedly running a criminal enterprise to enrich themselves and others through drug-trafficking and preserving and protecting their power, territory and revenue through acts of murder, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, extortion, and other acts of violence. All 18 defendants -— six newly charged and 12 who were initially indicted a year ago — were charged in a 48-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury yesterday.

Among the new charges, the indictment alleges that Zambrano and co-defendants Vicente Garcia, Fernando King, Samuel Gutierrez and Felipe Zamora conspired to demand and receive payment from an organization illegally selling fraudulent immigration documents in the “Little Village” area of Chicago by threatening and actually engaging in the use of force and violence against members of that organization unless the defendants received regular cash payments. This is the first time that federal charges have alleged that Latin Kings leaders extorted “street tax” from non-gang members, referred to as “miqueros,” who sold false identification documents.

To enforce the Latin Kings’ grip on the community and control over its members and associates, defendants charged in the racketeering conspiracy (RICO) 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 King members who cooperated with law enforcement.

Zambrano, 49, also known as “Big Tino,” “Tino,” “Old Man,” and “Viejo,” was arrested Monday night on a charge of conspiracy to possess and distribute tablets containing hydrocodone that was lodged in a criminal complaint. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys on Tuesday and was ordered held pending a detention hearing at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Three other new defendants — Ruben Caquias, Ernesto Grimaldo and Felipe Zamora — were arrested early today or were being sought and those arrested were scheduled to appear this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez. Other defendants who were charged previously are scheduled to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle in U.S. District Court.

The arrests and charges were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI; Andrew L. Traver, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, and Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The investigation was conducted with the assistance of the federal High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force and under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

Today’s indictment replaces the charges that were brought in September 2008 against 25 alleged Latin Kings leaders, including Garcia, then the Regional Officer or top leader of the 26th Street Region, a regional enforcer and 18 Incas (section leaders), who were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine in United States v. Vicente Garcia, et al., 08 CR 746. Since then, 13 of those defendants have pleaded guilty and all are named as co-conspirators in the new indictment. The remaining 12 defendants are facing the same and, in some cases, additional charges in the new indictment. They are: Vicente Garcia, Valentin Baez, Alphonso Chavez, Juan DeJesus, Danny Dominguez, Luis Garcia, Samuel Gutierrez, Jose Guzman, Polin Lopez, Javier Ramirez, Wilfredo Rivera, Jr., and Fernando Vazquez. Of these defendants, Vicente Garcia, Chavez, DeJesus, Luis Garcia, Guzman and Rivera are in federal custody; Gutierrez, Lopez and Ramirez are on bond; and Baez, Dominguez and Vazquez are fugitives. The new defendants are Zambrano, Fernando King, 39, of Chicago, alleged to be the gang’s “Supreme Regional Officer” who reported only to Zambrano, and Ruben Caquias, Ernesto Grimaldo, Nedal Issa and Felipe Zamora. King and Issa are also in federal custody.