Major Gang Round Up in Newburgh

Taking back the streets of violence-plagued city

More than a dozen suspected drug gang leaders and associates were rounded up in Newburgh Thursday morning in what is the second major sweep there in recent months.

The suspects were arraigned in White Plains federal court and ordered held without bail.

In all, more than 30 people were charged. At least 15 suspects arrested this day had not been arrested before in connection with gang activity, Bharara said.

Federal agents along with state and local police made the arrests in the early morning hours.   Some suspects face racketeering charges, officials said. 

In all, 31 people faces charges of racketeering, murder and attempted murder, and a number of other federal crimes.  Police are still searching for one suspect, identified as Carlos Ortiz, aka "King Tone."

Many of the suspects are believed to be leaders and members of the Latin Kings gang. Several past unsolved murders are expected to be included in this latest round of charges - incluidng the shooting death of an innocent 15 year-old child.

"Today's arrests represent the latest salvo in our campaign to rid the City of Newburgh of the scourge that calls itself the Latin Kings," US Attorney Preet Bharara said. Investigators said the Newburgh Latin Kings held regular meetings about expanding their drug operations headquartered in the city's East End. The FBI said members used violence ranging from beatings to shootings to murder.

"We will continue to dedicate resources for the purpose of eradicating these crimes," FBI New York director Janice Fedarcyk said. Wilson "King Gunz" Pagan and Christian 'King Chi Chi' Sanchez are among those charged. 

The drug gangs of Newburgh have caught the attention of Senator Charles Schumer and Attorney General Eric Holder, who last year called a law enforcement crackdown in the city a priority.

Newburgh has about 28,000 residents and in 2008, this city along the Hudson had more crimes per capita than any other in New York State.

Police Chief Michael Ferrara said crime rates dropped a bit after last May's raids netted dozens of suspects. But he said sustained pressure is needed or violent crime will spike again. Last May, hundreds of FBI agents and police officers conducted raids on the Bloods and Latin King gangs. Eighty people were arrested and charged in what was a first major raid in the violence-plagued city. 

Some arrested in the earlier raids will face additional charges as a result of this latest investigation.   If convicted, penalties include the possibility of life in prison, or even the death sentence.

Anyone with information about Ortiz is asked to call the FBI at 212-384-5000.

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