(Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling announced the arrest of more than 60 members and associates of the Latin Kings gang at the federal courthouse in South Boston Thursday.
The news came after a five-year investigation, resulting in the major takedown of one of the largest criminal gangs in the region.
The arrests included Massachusetts and east coast leadership of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation. Among then was gang leader Michael Cecchetelli of Springfield, who authorities say ran the Latin Kings mafia-style.
"It's a big hit because we were able to take out nearly all of the leadership," Lelling said.
The arrested members and associates are now facing drug, firearms, and racketeering charges. Lelling said that eight of those charged are still on the run and considered to be fugitives.
One of Cecchetelli's top associates, Sandra Correa, was also taken into custody.
"Correa was responsible for maintaining communication between gang members on the inside with those on the outside, often relaying orders to kill or punish members in bad standing or who are suspected of cooperating with rival gang members and law enforcement," Joseph Bonavolonto, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston Field Division, said.
Authorities also seized three buildings in New Bedford that the Latin Kings were using.
“They began to control a lot of the drug trafficking in New Bedford," Lelling said. "They were using for that purpose a series of trap houses—homes from which they could deal drugs and which acted as a base of operation.”
While making the arrests, the FBI was able to recover two missing teenagers from Fall River and New Bedford.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports