A member of the New Bedford Chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation pleaded guilty today to drug conspiracy charges, federal prosecutors announced.

Ines Lugo, also known as “Queen China,” 42, pleaded guilty in Boston's federal court to conspiracy to distribute cocaine base. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled her sentencing for Feb. 24.

Lugo admitted that she conspired with other Latin Kings members and leaders to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute. On Aug. 24, 2019, Lugo was captured on video delivering cocaine base to another Latin Kings member in a so-called "trap house."

In December 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy and firearms charges against 62 leaders, members and associates of the Latin Kings. Ines Lugo is the 20th defendant to plead guilty in the case that federal agents dubbed "Operation Throne Down."

The Latin Kings are a violent criminal enterprise comprised of thousands of members across the United States, said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling in a media release. The Latin Kings adhere to a national manifesto, employ an internal judiciary and use a sophisticated system of communication to maintain the hierarchy of the organization. The gang uses drug distribution to generate revenue, and engages in violence against witnesses and rival gangs to further its influence and to protect its turf.

The drug conspiracy charges provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Commissioner Carol Mici of the Massachusetts Department of Correction; and Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was also provided by the FBI North Shore Gang Task Force and the Bristol County and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Mallard and Lauren Graber of Lelling’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach, Lelling's office said.

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