08/22/2006

Tampa raid takes down 39 alleged leaders of violent Latin Kings gang

By MITCH STACY
Associated Press Writer

TAMPA, Fla.- After a 14-month investigation, law enforcement officers raided a high-level meeting at a rented club and arrested every known leader of the violent Latin Kings gang in Florida, authorities said Monday.

The Sunday afternoon raid netted the arrests of 39 alleged gang leaders on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said.

The gang has been involved in major crimes ranging from drug dealing to attempted murder, Gee said. Prosecutors say additional charges could be filed.

Gee said the "extremely violent" gang has been active in the area for at least 20 years and may have ties to gangs in New York and Chicago. The Chicago Crime Commission now estimates that there are more than 20,000 Latin Kings in the Chicago area alone.

Those arrested Saturday ranged in age from 16 to 39, according to the sheriff's office. They all appeared in court Monday morning, State Attorney Mark Ober said.

Among them was the alleged statewide leader of the Latin Kings, Samuel David Alvarado, 26, also known as "King Sam," who lives in Lake Worth, the sheriff's office said. He was ordered held without bail, according to jail records.

Around 100 local officers and federal agents participated in the raid, including the Tampa police; the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local prosecutors.

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