An incarcerated former second-in-command of the New Bedford branch of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation has pleaded guilty in federal court, adding to a string of wrapped-up prosecutions in a sweeping federal indictment.

Xavier Valentin-Soto, 33, this week admitted to conspiracy to distribute cocaine before U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel, and a sentencing hearing has been scheduled  for Dec. 16.

One-time "Cacique" Valentin-Soto, known as “King X," held a leadership role in a drug distribution network maintained through "trap houses" in the North End of New Bedford, according to the Office of Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

Back in 2019, Valentin-Soto was one of 62 people named in a federal indictment that capped an undercover investigation. On December 5, over 500 federal, state and local agents arrested dozens of Latin Kings members and associates and executed 31 search warrants at 24 locations in three states – including at trap houses in New Bedford at 358 North Front Street and 239 Sawyer Street. The investigation and sweep was known as "Operation Throne Down."

Valentin-Soto was named in that indictment, but he was already incarcerated at the time. In July 2017, New Bedford police searched a North End trap house and found cocaine, packaging, and distribution materials. Valentin-Soto was arrested and charged in state court, but released after posting bail. While on pretrial release, Valentin-Soto sold 160 grams of cocaine to a cooperating witness over three recorded purchases in early 2019, landing him back in jail, according to the indictment.

The indictment states that a cooperating witness in March, April, and May bought sizeable amounts of cocaine from Valentin-Soto, and that the transactions were caught on video. The witness and the defendant were seen at the 358 North Front Street trap house and at Valenitn-Soto's 487 North Front Street apartment.

In addition, a February 2019 recording showed Valentin-Soto and other gang members discussing their violent assault of "Victim 24." Prosecutors say gang leader Jorge Rodriguez had ordered the bloody beating, directing the whole New Bedford chapter to “eat at him.” In a recording, Valentin-Soto states he "always eats and does not let his lions eat alone." Rodgriguez was heard stating the victim landed in Providence Hospital with three broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Rodriguez, King G, 32, the New Bedford leader and former second-in-command of the syndicate at the state level, pleaded guilty to a RICO charge on June 30.

In Operation Throne Down, 23 of the 62 people indicted had ties to New Bedford.  Probationary member Emanuel Lopez-Velez pleaded guilty August 27. In May, a gang member who was not swept up in Operation Throne Down -- Alexander Dwin Pizarro, 28, known as "King Tego," was arrested on a federal gun charge.

Xavier Valentin-Soto is the tenth defendant to plead guilty Operation Throne Down.

The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Mallard and Mark Grady of Lelling’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

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