By Mark Hallum
The last of four members of a deadly gang associated with a source of distress for Jackson Heights residents was sentenced last week on weapons charges, the Queens district attorney said.
The Always Bangin’ Kings, or A.B.K, were overheard on a court-sanctioned wiretap plotting to kill two rival gang members in December 2016 and Michael Cortes, 25, of Jackson Heights was slapped with a sentence of five years, DA Richard Brown said June 19.
“All four defendants in this case pleaded guilty and are now incarcerated for their illegal acts. Illegal guns in the hands of criminals is a serious threat to everyone in Queens County,” Brown said. “Let this be a warning to anyone who purports to arm themselves with illegal guns: When you are caught, you will go to prison.”
Cortes joins three of his other compatriots in prison. Michael Aalil, Dionicio Castro and Francis Carias are all serving individual sentences ranging between three and seven years for attempted possession of a weapon, according to the DA.
Prior to the NYPD arresting the men in December, following the revelations of the wiretap and just minutes before the suspected murders were set to take place, the community began expressing concern about three stabbings that had taken place in Jackson Heights and the surrounding areas at a May 2016 town hall.
Arranged by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), the town hall centered around an incident involving an 18-year-old man who had been approached by a group of men dressed all in black in a park at 34th Avenue and 77th Street.
According to NYPD, the men asked the victim if he was a member of A.B.K, to which he responded “no.”
The men attacked him, leaving a puncture wound from possibly a knife in his back, according to the police, and he was transported to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition.
A March 12, 2016 incident in Jackson Heights involved a 16-year-old who was walking his dog along Northern Boulevard and 80th Street when he was approached by two men and asked if he was “down with A.B.K.” before he was stabbed in the stomach and his dog stabbed in the back.
Just after the 16-year-old and his dog were attacked, a 23-year-old man was also stabbed in the back with a sharp object; this assailant also referenced A.B.K., according to police.
The DA’s office could not confirm details of the association of these stabbings and the A.B.K. gang.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall