Feds: Latin King brothers gave marching orders in New Bedford gang war

BOSTON MA. – DECEMBER 5: A array of headshots of individuals facing federal charges. US Attorney Andrew Lelling and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge FBI Boston Field Division, announce the arrest of over 60 members and associates of the Latin Kings gang during a press conference in federal court on December 5, 2019 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Two high-ranking brothers of the Latin Kings oversaw brutal beatings and attempted murders in New Bedford as a bloody gang war escalated with the death of a teenager in October, a prosecutor and gang task force agent said in a detention hearing Monday.

Michael Alvarado, a gang task force agent, called the New Bedford Latin Kings chapter led by the “Inca,” Jose Rodriguez, the most organized in the state with over 50 members and a large-scale narcotics trafficking network.

Days after Latin Kings recruit 17-year-old Paul Collazo-Ruiz was gunned down near one of the gang’s trap houses, members were asked in a secretly recorded meeting “if they were ready for war” against the rival Gangster Disciples as Rodriguez and his brother Jorge gave marching orders, Alvarado said in U.S. District Court.

“Stop calling me and move on them,” Jose Rodriguez allegedly told a room full of Latin Kings members in the video shown to the courtroom.

Jorge Rodriguez, the Latin Kings’ statewide second-in-command, also ordered the gang to avoid phone conversations because anyone in a group would be lumped into a racketeering charge.

“We don’t want to do that, because it’s organized crime, understand!” stated a voice on the video alleged to be Jorge Rodriguez’s.

Jose Rodriguez and New Bedford foot soldier Josue Carrasquillo pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges and their lengthy detention hearing ended Monday evening without a ruling.

Carrasquillo participated in two shootings of gang foes this year in New Bedford and robbed a convenience store in June with knowledge of the owner “for insurance proceeds,” a prosecutor said, citing a 190-page affidavit.

Jose Rodriguez also joined in at least two recorded beatings, captured in one video standing over a “visibly unconscious” Latin King who broke an internal rule, and is a prolific cocaine cook and distributor, Alvarado said.

The landlord of three alleged trap houses in New Bedford, Robert Avitabile, also pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges Monday and was reprimanded twice by Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley for speaking aloud while she and a prosecutor were talking in the hearing.

“I really need you to listen to what I’m saying,” Kelley ordered Avitabile, who apologized.

Avitabile’s assigned lawyer also escorted a supporter of the defendants watching the hearings out in a break after the woman loudly told a man sitting behind her several times to not touch her.

The gang’s top East Coast advisor, Esther Ortiz, is among two more Latin Kings associates to be arraigned Tuesday in federal court.

Among those arrested were two men from Lowell and three from Fitchburg.