A New Bedford gang associate accused of shooting a man in the back last year pleaded guilty today to a RICO charge in federal court in Boston.

Emanuel Lopez-Velez, 22, is a former probationary member of the New Bedford Chapter of the Massachusetts Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, and he pleaded guilty today to a racketeering conspiracy charge, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced.

Velez, known as "King Manny," was arrested back in December 2019 as part of Operation Throne Down, a major takedown of the Latin Kings in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. He's the ninth defendant to plead guilty in the case that charged 62 individuals, many with New Bedford ties.

According to federal prosecutors, Lopez-Velez admitted that on Sept. 30, 2019, he and others traveled to Ruth and McGurk Streets in New Bedford with a plan to rob rival gang members, and Lopez-Velez was provided with a gun. The group approached a rival, surrounded him, pointed a firearm, and demanded the victim’s phone. The victim ran from the Latin Kings, and Lopez-Velez was ordered by another to “get him.” Lopez-Velez admitted he chased the rival and fired one shot, hitting him in the back. The victim, who survived,  fell to the ground and was transported to the hospital.

According to the detailed 2019 Operation Throne Down Indictment, Lopez-Velez is featured in a gang-produced YouTube video where he can be seen holding liquor bottles and marijuana and throwing up gang signs. The video depicts a Latin Kings "trap house" located at 358 North Front Street. The lyrics consist of threats to opposing gang members.

Judge Rya W. Zobel has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 10.

The Latin Kings are a violent criminal enterprise comprised of thousands of members across the United States, according to the DOJ. They adhere to a national manifesto, employ an internal judiciary and use a sophisticated system of communication to maintain the hierarchy of the organization. As alleged in court documents, 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.

Warning: The following video contains language that some may find to be offensive.

 

The RICO conspiracy charge provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. 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 New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro 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 Mark Grady of Lelling’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

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