Fugitive Latin Kings leader captured in Mexico

January 5, 2009
Sun-Times News Group

A leader of Chicago’s Latin Kings street gang, the subject of an international manhunt after fleeing the area following a massive investigation into the gang’s leadership in September, has been arrested in Mexico.

Vicente Garcia, 30, was charged in a criminal complaint on Sept. 24, 2008, with violating federal drug and firearm laws, according to an FBI release.

The charge was part of “Operation Padilla,” an investigation that sought to dismantle the Latin Kings’ leadership and led to 40 people being charged and a  multimillion-dollar drug operation being disrupted.

Of the 40, only five became fugitives. After Garcia’s arrest, the four others remain at large.

More than half of those charged were reputed “Incas,” or leaders of the Latin Kings, operating in the Little Village neighborhood along 26th Street.

Chicago FBI chief Robert Grant said the gang was targeted after it “caused a tremendous amount of violence because of the drug trade.” The feds learned of planned murders that were “disrupted” during the investigation, he said.

An informant helped build the case, securing video and audio surveillance. At one meeting in 2007, Garcia, with a last known address in Bolingbrook, told the Incas they had to sell cocaine to help pay for “guns, attorneys and funerals,” U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said.

Garcia fled to Mexico and was arrested in the City of Tamazula, State of Jalisco in December, the release said. Mexican authorities turned him over to federal authorities in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 20, the release said. He was awaiting extradition to Chicago on Monday.

Garcia is accused of overseeing the distribution of cocaine and firearms  throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

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