According to federal prosecutors, Wilson Pagan founded the Newburgh chapter of the Latin Kings. The Feds alleged that the gang’s membership increased from “roughly a dozen” in 2008 to “more than 50” in 2010. Over that time, investigators linked multiple murders, drug deals, and assaults to the criminal organization, which competed for territory with the local Bloods. In 2011, New York magazine called the small city 60 miles north, “Murder Capital of New York,” in large part because of the violence incited by the two gangs.
Since then, a federal crackdown has swept much of the Newburgh Latin Kings’ leadership behind bars. Thirty-five members have been charged and convicted. And last week, in federal court in White Plains, Pagan became the 28th member of his gang to be sentenced. U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel handed down a punishment of life plus 85 years in prison for crimes including murder, assault, racketeering, and conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
“Mr. Pagan was a gang leader, and what he led his followers to was a gang member’s life filled with death, blood, guns, drugs, and jail — and for him the gangster life in the street has become the inmate’s life in prison, forever,” Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
Prosecutors charged that Pagan, a 27-year-old nicknamed “King Gunz,” was one of the leaders who ordered the drive-by gang hit that led to the death of 15-year-old Jeffrey Zachary, an innocent bystander shot by mistake in 2008.
Pagan sat at the top of the Latin King chapter’s leadership committee, called the “Crown Council.” He had the position of “First Crown,” which prosecutors described as “the over all leader of the Chapter” who “ran all meetings.”
In the indictment, filed in February 2011, prosecutors also claimed that Pagan orchestrated the stabbing of a suspected police informant in January 2010, and that he was behind a May 2009 attempted murder.
Authorities arrested Pagan in a May 2010 federal raid that swept up 100 Latin Kings and Bloods in Newburgh. Pagan was among eight high ranking members of the gang listed in the indictment.
Jose Lagos, another Latin Kings leader involved in Zachary’s murder, received a 40 years sentence in September. In October, Christian Sanchez, a gang leader involved in another murder, got life plus 110 years.
Next: the text of the federal indictment indictment against the Newburgh Latin Kings.