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Alleged gang members in Maryland indicted on racketering charges

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • Feds charge 19 suspected gang members in Maryland raids
  • Ten of 19 named in indictment were already behind bars on other charges
  • If convicted, alleged gang members could face life in prison

Washington (CNN) -- Federal authorities have charged 19 alleged members of the violent street gang Latin Kings in raids in Maryland, and arrested those not already jailed on other charges, officials announced Thursday.

By late afternoon, officials had arrested eight suspects and were searching for one remaining fugitive. Ten of the 19 named in the federal grand jury indictment were already behind bars, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The Latin Kings are accused of attempted murders, stabbings, assaults, arson and witness tampering as part of a racketeering scheme, officials said.

"We dismantled a large part of the Latin Kings organization whose members allegedly used violence to secure the sanctity of their private society," said ATF Deputy Director Kenneth Melson. "We have made a serious impact on violent crime and gang violence," he said.

Some of the violence attributed to the Latin Kings stemmed from turf battles with rival gangs engaged in the illegal drug trade, authorities said.

Members of the MS-13 gang members had been targeted by the suspects in New York and Maryland, authorities said, adding that members of other rival gangs including the "Bloods" and Black Guerilla Family also had been targeted.

Justice Department officials said the suspects appeared in a federal courtroom late Thursday in Greenbelt, Maryland, a Washington D.C., suburb, to hear charges against them.

If convicted, the gang defendants in the case could all face a maximum sentence of life in prison.