BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) -- More than 60 members of a national gang with major ties to the western Massachusetts area are facing charges in what the FBI's Boston division calls their biggest gang bust in history.
Officials with the U.S. Attorney's office said "Operation Throne Down" was aimed at capturing those in leadership roles for the east coast and Massachusetts branches of the Latin Kings.
The suspect at the top of their list is a man from Springfield.
Law enforcement said 40-year-old Michael Cecchetelli of Springfield was arrested Thursday morning. They allege he orchestrated murders, drug and gun distribution as the east coast overseer of the Latin Kings.
"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 and order that’s traditionally used by the mafia," said Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent for the FBI's Boston division.
The FBI's Boston division and the U.S. Attorney's office said Cecchetelli helped fortify the east coast divisions of the Latin Kings.
"Cecchetelli ordered Latin Kings members to aggressively increase gang influence in Massachusetts and along the east coast, including ordering the murder of those who questioned his authority and authorizing various levels of violence against anyone cooperating with law-enforcement," Lelling added.
Fitting with the gang's name, officials said Cecchetelli's influence was as powerful as royalty.
"Up until a few hours ago, he reigned over 14 states from Massachusetts down to Florida," Bonavolonta noted.
Officials said the Springfield man was arrested in his home Thursday morning, facing charges along with more than 60 leadership-level members of the gang throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
In the process, they said, saving lives.
"Ultimately, during this investigation, federal agents were able to intervene and prevent at least eight murders from happening," Lelling explained.
According to the FBI, 'Operation Throne Down' was a four year law enforcement coup d'etat to overthrow the Latin King dynasty, resulting in the seizure of drugs, vehicles, cash, and illegal weapons too.
However, officials said they're prepared for any would-be successors trying to take Cecchetelli's place.
"While today’s arrests strike at the core of this organization, the inclination of gang members to use firearms to protect their drug profits and settle scores requires constant vigilance," Bonavolonta noted.
Those charged include:
- Michael Cecchetelli, King Merlin (East Coast Team, East Coast Overseer)
- Esther Ortiz, Queen India, Meriden, CT (East Coast Team, East Coast Crown Council Chairwoman)
- Hector Manuel Vega, King Demon, Britian, CT (East Coast Team, Crown Council Member, CT)
- Jorge Rodriguez, King G (State Team, Cacique, Enforcer (Former))
- Michael Marrero, King Clumsy (State Team, Enforcer, Regional Officer (Former))
- Francisco Lopez, King Cisco, Chelsea, Mass. (State Team, Treasurer/Secretary)
- Gregory Peguero-Colon, King Trece, Springfield, Mass. (State Team, Crown Council Chairman)
- Juan Liberato, King Prodigy, Haverhill, Mass. (State Team, Inca (Former))
- Angel Roldan, King Big-A and Nelty, Lowell, Mass. (State Team, Cacique (Former), Enforcer (Former))
- Frutuoso Barros, King Fruity (DOC, Supreme Regional Officer)
- Sandra Correa, Queen Dream, Peabody, Mass. (DOC, Secretary (Former))
- Shaun Harrison Rev (DOC, Member)
- Vincent Dzierwinski, King Vice (DOC, Member)
- Wilson Peguero, King Dubb, Dorchester, Mass. (D5K, Inca)
- Alexis Peguero, King Lexi/Looney, Dorchester, Mass. (D5K, Cacique)
- Matthew Palacios, King Nene (D5K, Enforcer)
- Steven Familia-Valdez, King Haze, Mattapan, Mass. (D5K, Member)
- Dante Lara, King Nasty, Providence, RI (D5K, Member)
- Robert Lara, King Rizz, Chelsea, Mass. (D5K, Member)
- Angel Abymael Ortiz, King Abby, Randolph, Mass. (D5K, Member)
- Angel Rodriguez, King Ace, Dorchester, Mass. (D5K, Member, Crown Council Chairman for Boston)
- Alexis Velasquez, King Booboo, Dorchester, Mass. (MSB, Inca)
- Angel Calderon, King Bam (MSB, (Former) State Team Head of Security)
- Oscar Pena, King O-Block (D5K, Member)
- Jose Rodriguez, King Stutter, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Inca)
- Orlando Santiago-Torres, King Landi, (New Bedford, Cacique)
- Robert Avitabile a/k/a Bobby (New Bedford, Associate)
- Taliyah Barboza, Queen Taliyah, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Josue Carrasquillo, King Playboy, Springfield, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Michael Cotto, King Gordo, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, (Former) Regional Officer)
- Juan Figueroa, King Pun, Dorchester, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Issac Felix-Rivera, King Izzy (New Bedford, Member)
- Kevin Guadalupe, King Milly, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Shelton Johnson, King Shells, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Tyson Jorge, King Music (New Bedford, Member)
- Emanuel Lopez-Velez, King Manny (New Bedford, Probationary Member)
- Luis Mendez, King Primo (New Bedford, Member, Incarcerated)
- Raekwan Paris, King D-Bo (New Bedford, Member)
- Jayco Reyes-Smith, King Javy (Former New Bedford Member, now in North Carolina)
- Luis Santiago, King Tiny (New Bedford, Member, Incarcerated)
- Roberto Vargas, King Royalty (New Bedford, Member)
- Jose Vasquez, King Fearless (New Bedford, Member)
- Natanel Velazquez, King Nael, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Israel Rodriguez, King Imperial, Lynn, Mass. (North Shore, Inca)
- Alfred Nieves, King Alfy, Lowell, Mass. (Lowell, Inca)
- Marlon Rivera, King Pluto (Fitchburg, Member, D5K, Founder)
- Ines Lugo, Queen China, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Secretary)
- Jeremia Medina, King Sweepy, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Enforcer)
- Bienvenido Nunez, King Apache, Enfield, CT (State Team, Inca)50
- Tanairy Ruiz, Queen Tanairy, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford, Member)
- Xavier Valentin-Soto, King X (New Bedford, Member, (Former) Cascique, Incarcerated)
- Joel Francisco, King Casper (Rhode Island, Member)
- Eric Thomas, King E (Rhode Island, Inca)
- Alvin Mojica, King Humble (Worcester, Inca)
- Sophia Velasquez, Queen Sophia (Fitchburg, Member)
- Dairon Rivera, King Mafia (Fitchburg, Member)
- Hector Adorno, King Gordo (Springfield, Member)
- Jesus Diaz, King Kiko (N. Shore, Member)
- Henry Caribe, King 40cal (N. Shore, Member)
- Jonathan Cassiano, King Legend (Springfield, Member)
- Antoine Goodson (Associate, gun supplier to gang)
- Derek Southworth (Associate, gun supplier to gang)
Agents seized dozens of firearms including a MP-5 sub-machine gun, an AR-15, and MAC-10, as well as six cars, six motorcycles, three jet skis, an ATV, drugs, and $38,000.
The Latin Kings originated in Chicago over 40 years ago and spread to local chapters in the Bay State.
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, authorities said.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.