Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

5400 Federal Plaza, Suite 1500
Hammond, IN 46320

For Immediate Release

June 29, 2010

David Capp, United States Attorney

Contact: Mary L. Hatton
(219) 937-5603
(219) 852-2770 (fax)

Six Members of the Latin Kings Street Gang Indicted for Racketeering Conspiracy

Hammond, IN — The United States Attorney’s Office, and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice today announced the indictment of six individuals, alleged members of the Latin Kings, in a racketeering conspiracy. 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 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 is Nation-wide gang that originated in Chicago and has branched throughout the United States. The Latin Kings is a well organized street gang that has specific has leadership and is comprised of Regions that include multiple chapters. As alleged in the indictment, the Latin Kings enforces its rules and promotes 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.”

Vargas, Bernal, Zambrano, Clay, and Oritz were arrested today. Zambrano made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich yesterday and Vargas, Bernal, Clay and Ortiz made their initial appearance before Judge Rodovich today. The government is seeking detention without bond pending trial on all. Ellis is currently being held 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 United States Attorney’s Office emphasized that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.