Gavel to Gavel

Latin Kings plead guilty to firebombing

Brooklyn Daily
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You can officially call them kings of clink.

Three Latin Kings members accused of fire bombing a former member of their posse are facing between 15 to 23 years in prison now that they’ve pleaded guilty to hatching a plan to throw Molotov cocktails at their victim’s Borough Park home.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said that Emil Vazquez, 21; Juan Burkette, 30; and Casimiro Reyes, 21, all admitted to their involvement in the March, 2010, attack. Flames gutted the apartment, but no one was harmed, officials said.

Police say the Latin Kings sub-set known as the Borough Park Homicide Squad didn’t care if an innocent person was hit along with ousted member Juan Kuang when they lobbed the fire bombs into his home on 57th Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway.

The suspects cooked up their plan in a pizza shop where they bought two Arizona ice tea bottles, emptied the contents and filled them with gasoline. Arriving at their victim’s house just before 11:45 pm, they hurled the brick through the window before tossing the lit bottles inside, police said.

Kuang escaped harm, but the flames gutted the apartment, prompting harsh words from Hynes at the time.

“These so-called ‘Latin Kings’ do not rule the streets of Brooklyn, but they may each find themselves reigning over a small prison cell for the rest of their lives,” Hynes said in a 2010 statement. “I will not tolerate violent street gangs like this bunch trying to overrun our neighborho­ods.”

This wasn’t the first time the suspects had hunted their prey, the prosecutor said. They firebombed a home on 18th Avenue between 54th and 55th streets at an earlier date, believing Kuang was hiding out there.

Kuang, 19, had been “stripped” of his Latin King status over disagreements with the Borough Park Homicide Squad’s leaders, police said. After constant harassment by the Latin Kings, Juan Kuang stabbed Latin King member Norman Vado, 21, the brother of the gang’s leader, or “First Crown,” Roger Vado.

Juan Kuang is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for the stabbing of Norman Vado, prosecutors say.

Mobbed courtroom

What do the Gambinos, Westies, and the Hells Angels have in common? Nothing good.

Three members of three reputed crime organizations were marched into Brooklyn federal court together last Tuesday, facing charges of extortion.

FBI officials say that James Ferrara is an associate of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra, Daniel Hanley is a member of The Westies street gang, and Peter Kanakis is a member of the Demon Knights, a sub-chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.

Prosecutors say the defendants conspired to collect and attempt to collect loansharking debts from at least two victims. The trio used threats of violence and flashed firearms as they forced their victims to fork over their cash. In one instance, when a victim could not make repayments on the loan, the defendants threatened him with brass knuckles and a baseball bat.

If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count in which they are named in the indictment.

“Allegedly members of three different organized crime enterprises, these defendants nevertheless banded together and spoke the same language of violence, threats, and intimidation to their victims. Such tactics will always be met with the full force of the law,” stated United States Attorney Loretta Lynch. “We will not rest until organized crime is eradicated from our communities.”

Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at or by calling (718) 260-2525.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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