2 Newburgh Latin Kings leaders convicted of murder, face life in prison

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Two notorious leaders of the Newburgh Latin Kings were found guilty on murder and other charges and were held responsible for an array of violent crimes by a federal jury in White Plains on Monday.

Wilson Pagan, known as King Gunz, and Christian Sanchez, aka King Chi Chi, now face mandatory sentences of life in prison after years of terrorizing the streets of Newburgh, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

"For far too long, the residents of Newburgh were plagued by lethal violence and narcotics trafficking at the hands of these two defendants and their cronies," Bharara said. "Their reign of terror is now over for good, and everyone can breathe easier as a result."

After a six-week trial, jury members in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel took around nine hours to find the two men guilty of 29 counts, including murder, racketeering, drug-related charges, firearm violations and witness-tampering charges, prosecutors said.

Pagan and Sanchez face life in prison when they are sentence in July.

Pagan was found guilty of the May 2008 murder of Jeffrey Zachary, a 15-year old who was shot after he was mistaken for a member of the Bloods, a rival gang, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Pagan also ordered hits against other gang members, including those who were suspected of cooperating with police.

Sanchez was found guilty of the March 2010 murders of two men in Newburgh, prosecutors said. In September 2010, Sanchez also shot a fellow Latin King member during an altercation on the leadership of the gang.

Pagan and Sanchez were part of a group of 35 gang members and their associates that has been convicted in a sweeping federal investigation, Bharara's statement said. Both were members of the Newburgh Latin Kings' "Crown Council," a group of five leaders that ran the gang. Each was "First Crown" at different times in recent years.

The gang sold drugs in the neighborhoods around Benkard Avenue and William Street and South Miller Street and Broadway, where turf wars with other gangs often resulted in shootings, stabbings and other violence, according to prosecutors.

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The Crown Council often met to collect dues, discuss relations with other gangs and decide how to mete out punishment to Latin King members perceived to have committed violations against their fellow gang members, officials said.

Newburgh has a long history of street violence that might improve with the imprisonment of the two gang leaders, Bharara said.

"Today's guilty verdicts are the latest example of how we are making good on our promise to eradicate the scourge of gangs and to give neighborhoods back to their residents," he said.

Attorney information for Pagan and Sanchez was not immediately available.


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