More than 60 members of the Latin Kings gang have been arrested, federal officials in Massachusetts announced Thursday.
U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling and Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI’s Boston office, said they will detail the arrests Thursday at the federal courthouse in Boston.
Those arrested include leaders, members and associates of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queen Nation, which is considered the oldest and largest predominantly Latino street gang, they said.
Bonavolonta described it as “the largest takedown in FBI Boston division’s history.”
Some 500 law enforcement officers were involved in arrests in Massachusetts cities including Boston, Lawrence, Fitchburg, Lowell, Springfield, Worcester and New Bedford. Others were arrested in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Nine of those charged were already in custody, Lelling said.
During an arrest in New Bedford, the FBI recovered two missing children — a 14-year-old boy from New Bedford and a 16-year-old boy from Fall River — the bureau said in a tweet.
“Operations like these have a direct beneficial effect on our communities and we will maintain this higher tempo of gang enforcement until life improves in the Massachusetts towns most affected by gang violence,” Lelling said.
Those arrested face racketeering, drug and firearms charges. The arrests are the result of a five-year investigation by FBI’s North Shore Gang Task Force and the Massachusetts Department of Correction dubbed “Operation Throne Down.”
The list included Michael Cecchetelli, a.k.a. “King Merlin,” the East Coast overseer; Esther Ortiz, a.k.a. “Queen India,” East Coast Crown Council chairwoman; and Hector Manuel Vega, a.k.a. “King Demon,” a Crown Council member out of Connecticut, court documents showed.
“Under the calculating leadership of Michael Cecchetelli, a 40-year-old Italian man from Springfield with blood ties to the Genovese crime family, the Latin Kings and Queens adopted a level of structure that’s traditionally used by the Mafia,” Bonavolonta said.
“Law enforcement was able to infiltrate the highest levels of the Latin Kings leadership and make secret recordings of gang strategy meetings,” Lelling said.
Also among those charged was Shaun Harrison, the former dean of Boston English High School. Harrison, also known as the “Rev,” shot a student in the head after he had recruited him to sell drugs in 2015.