BOSTON — A former member of the New Bedford Latin Kings who participated in a 2019 shooting in which the victim was shot in the back has been sentenced on racketeering and drug charges.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said 28-year-old Roberto Vargas, known as “King Royalty,” was sentenced Wednesday to more than three years in prison and three years of supervised release.

In February 2021, Vargas pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute, manufacture and possess crack cocaine.

Vargas was one of several Latin Kings members who confronted rival gang members in New Bedford's South End in September 2019.

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app

They went to Ruth and McGurk Streets to "flag," or brandish a bandanna with yellow and black Latin Kings colors, in the rival gang's territory, according to the office.

Afterwards they surrounded a rival gang member and demanded his phone at gunpoint. He ran, at which point one Latin Kings member chased him and shot him once in the back.

The victim was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and survived.

Vargas also participated in the gang's drug trafficking activities that operated out of multi-unit apartment buildings, known as trap houses, throughout New Bedford.

He was recorded distributing cocaine to other gang members, and preparing to cook a kilogram of cocaine into crack.

The Latin Kings are a criminal enterprise with thousands of members nationwide who deal drugs to generate revenue and engage in violence against witnesses and rival gangs.


In December 2019, a federal grand jury charged 62 Latin Kings leaders, members, and associates with racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy and firearms violations after they were caught by authorities in a large-scale takedown operation.

Massachusetts Unresolved Cases Playing Cards

Playing cards are being distributed to inmates in Massachusetts correctional facilities depicting the victims of unsolved murders and disappearances in the hopes that some inmates may recognize them and help bring closure to their cases.

The Victims in the New Bedford Highway Murders

The New Bedford highway murders took place in 1988, with the bodies discovered into 1989. The killer is confirmed to have killed nine women and suspected of murdering at least two more. Although there were at least three different men considered as suspects by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, the murders remain unsolved and the families of the victims are still searching for closure. The cases are all featured on the unsolved cases page of the Bristol County District Attorney's Office website.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420