A documented New Bedford Latin King is charged with a federal crime after an ATF special agent used cellphone evidence to link the alleged gang member to a gun found in a suitcase in a Clark Street alleyway in mid-April.

Alexander Dwin Pizarro, 28, known as "King Tego," this week was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The suspect, now in custody in Rhode Island, will make his initial appearance in federal court at a later date, according to the office of Andrew E. Lelling, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

Notably, Pizarro was not among the 64 Northeast members of the Latin Kings arrested in December as part of Operation Throne Down, a multi-year federal investigation into the organized crime syndicate. Twenty-three of those arrested had ties to New Bedford, but Pizarro somehow escaped the dragnet at that time. Now Pizarro, too, will face federal criminal justice, although he is not charged with racketeering like the others.

Charging Document, US District Court

Christopher F. Scott, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, on May 26 filed an affidavit in federal court to establish probable cause for the recent illegal weapons possession charge against Pizarro.

New Bedford Police had their eyes on Pizarro, the court document shows. A local detective on February 25 executed a search warrant at Pizarro's residence at 36 Myrtle Street after allegedly seeing him brandish a gun on social media, but that search did not return a weapon.

A break came on April 19 when New Bedford police officers responded to a report of shots fired on Clark Street, found Pizarro hiding in a nearby apartment, and located a gun in a nearby alleyway. By mid-May, Scott had executed a search warrant for Pizarro's cell phone and found photos of "Tego" posing with a Taurus PT709 Slim, an identical model to the one police found in a suitcase outside 106 Clark St. during their initial investigation.

Pizarro has multiple past convictions prohibiting him from possessing firearms, Scott noted in his affidavit. In May of 2018, he was charged in Newport Superior Court with carrying a gun without a permit as one of several men apprehended at a Rhode Island shooting range. Pizarro was sentenced to prison and was on probation for that charge in April.

According to the federal charging document, on April 19, shortly after 11:15 p.m., New Bedford police responded to a report of seven possible gunshots on Clark Street. Officers canvased the area but found nothing. Moments later, New Bedford police received a 911 call transferred from Massachusetts State Police. The anonymous caller said that four or five males "responsible" for the gunshots had run into 106 Clark St., Apt. 1. Police responded and found several men there, including Pizarro, who was reportedly hiding behind a door.

Meanwhile, another officer who was searching outside the house heard a thud and saw a suitcase outside a bathroom window, Scott wrote. Police opened the suitcase and allegedly found green camouflage body armor, a ski mask, ammunition, and an Adidas fanny pack with a black Taurus PT709 Slim inside.

Five people from 106 Clark St. were transported to the police station for questioning that night, including Pizarro, who was later released after denying involvement with the incident. Police obtained a search warrant to search the apartment, but "nothing of significance" was found in the dwelling unit, Scott's affidavit states.

On May 20, Agent Scott obtained a search warrant for the contents of Pizarro's LG Tribute phone. He said he located pictures of Pizarro taken hours prior to the April 19 shooting where Pizarro was in the Clark Street apartment and holding a firearm seemingly identical to the handgun found in the alley.

Charging Document, US District Court

A preliminary ballistics test matched the handgun to Winchester 9mm shell casings found on the sidewalk at 116-118 Clark Street, Scott wrote. He said a separate federal agent determined that the gun had been manufactured in Brazil, allowing for a federal charge on the basis of interstate commerce.

On April 27, New Bedford police announced they had arrested Pizarro on state gun charges related to the April 19 incident, but said nothing about federal involvement.

According to Scott, Pizarro is a known member of the Latin Kings as verified by the ATF and FBI as part of the multi-year undercover Operation Throne Down investigation. Pizarro was allegedly in charge of a trap house at 88 Ruth Street in New Bedford and a lieutenant of Jorge Rodriguez, known as "King G."

"I have reviewed photographs posted by members of the LATIN KINGS on social media depicting PIZARRO throwing up gang signs with other members of the LATIN KINGS, including a number of Defendants charged in Operation Throne Down, to include Luis Santiago, Orlando Santiago-Torres, Shelton Johnson, Josue Carrasquillo, and Juan Figueroa," Scott wrote.

Latin King members Carrasquillo and Figueroa were released from federal detention on April 17 and April 1 on COVID-19 petitions. Rodriguez petitioned for release but was denied, according to data published by Lelling.

It's not clear why Pizarro was not arrested in the original Operation Throne Down sweep.

The federal weapons case naming Pizarro is being heard by U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley.

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