By Bill Parry
Seven known members and associates of the Latin Kings street gang were arrested on narcotics and weapons charges following a three-month undercover operation, prosecutors announced last week.
The defendants are alleged to belong to the “Woodhaven Mayans,” a division of the Latin Kings that operates in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.
A joint investigation by the NYPD’s Gang Unit Queens and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau utilized an undercover NYPD detective who made multiple narcotics purchases on 13 occasions between April and June, involving David Golden, 21, or one of his associates Travis Gonzalez, 16, and Edgardo Torres, 17, both of Queens, the authorities said. The detective exchanged cash for drugs, including heroin, cocaine and prescription pills, and, in one instance, a firearm, the Queens DA said.
According to the charges, Golden allegedly contacted the undercover detective May 13 and asked if he was interested in purchasing “toys,” which the undercover knew to mean firearms from their previous conversations. Golden allegedly told the undercover that he had firearms coming from out of state which would be arriving in Queens shortly and would cost between $600 and $800, the criminal complaint said.
Golden allegedly met with the detective May 25, providing 24 grams of a substance believed to be cocaine, the charges said. Afterwards, Golden placed a phone call and Travis Gonzalez arrived at their location on a bike and handed the undercover a black bag allegedly containing a .38 caliber revolver with five rounds in the cylinder, according to the criminal charges.
The investigation culminated with a July 18 court-authorized raid on Golden’s Liberty Avenue home where he was found with four alleged associates: Ozone Park’s Janet Rodriguez, 30, Alberto Santiago, 21, Malik Santiago, 16, and Jesus Merced, 23, of Hempstead, Long Island, the DA said.
During the sweep, police found a defaced .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, $1,250 in cash, various quantities of marijuana, cocaine and heroin, a scale containing cocaine and various drug paraphernalia, according to Brown.
“These arrests should serve as a warning to other drug dealers and gang members that the law enforcement community will continue to aggressively track down those who traffic in drugs and illegal firearms and seek to put them in prison,” Brown said.
All seven defendants were arraigned July 19 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant on various criminal complaints. Golden faces up to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison if convicted. He is due back in court Aug. 2, the DA said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr