In January, 26-year-old Jose Lagos pleaded guilty to orchestrating three murders in Newburgh between 2008 and 2011–he was one of three Latin King gang members ordering the hits.
One of those shootings targeted a rival Bloods member but instead killed a 15-year-old bystander. Another shooting, also targeting a rival Blood, accidentally killed a Latin Kings associate. The third shooting killed the shooter of that associate.
On Tuesday, in federal court in White Plains, Judge Cathy Seibel sentenced Lagos to 40 years in prison. Lagos is the first of three convicted Latin Kings leaders to be sentenced.
The two other leaders, Wilson Pagan and Christian Sanchez, went to trial. In March a jury found them guilty of charges that included murder, racketeering, drug sales, and witness tampering. They face life sentences.
Authorities arrested more than 100 Latin Kings and Bloods, the warring gangs responsible for much of the bloodshed. U.S. attorneys charged 35 Latin Kings associates, all of whom would be convicted and 26 of whom have been sentenced.
Lagos, Pagan, and Sanchez were part of the gang’s leadership committee, called the “Crown Council.” Among other decisions, the council declared who to target for hits.
Lagos and Pagan ordered two lower-level member to kill a rival Blood on May 6, 2008. The triggerman missed and instead fatally shot 15-year-old Jeffrey Zachary, who had nothing to do with the dispute, according to prosecutors.
Two years later, on March 11, 2011, Lagos and Sanchez ordered a similar hit against a Blood, the indictment stated. This time, one of the Latin Kings subordinates charged with the task, Jerome Scarlett, ended up dead, apparently the victim of friendly fire.
The next day, Lagos and Sanchez had another member kill John Maldonado, the man they believed shot Scarlett.