A member of the Latin Dragons Nation street gang has been sentenced to 510 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity. He also admitted to being responsible for two homicides. Ralph Mendez, Jr., 24, of Chicago, Illinois, had participated in the trafficking of contraband and murders during his association with the group.
"This sentence should send a loud message that if you are involved in illegal and violent activity in our communities, federal law enforcement is coming for you," said Paul Keenan, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Indianapolis, in a statement.
Attacking and Killing Rival Gang Members
According to court documents, Mendez Jr admitted to being a member of the notorious gang from 2014. It originated in Chicago and spread to other areas such as the Northern District of Indiana. During his time as a member of the gang, he is said to have played a part in the shootings of suspected gang members and associates. Also, he was purportedly involved in the trafficking of firearms and drugs.
Accompanied by his gang associates, Mendez Jr, left Hammond, Indiana, in a stolen vehicle on 23 May, 2017. He went to a rival neighborhood in Chicago. After arriving in the city, he shot Jose Gomez, a rival gang member, which resulted in the latter's death.
A History of Violence
In another violent incident on 14 July, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois, Mendez Jr, along with his associates, fired over 15 shots at four individuals who he believed were members or associates of a rival gang. An individual, Mike Whitford, was killed in the shooting, and another victim was shot in the neck. From 2014 to 2017, Mendez, Jr. shot four more victims, including one incident where he shot the victim as he attempted to flee. He also accompanied other gang members in shootings.
"Violence, including firearms and narcotics trafficking, will not be tolerated by the community of Hammond. Coordination among local, state and federal law enforcement as well as across state lines between Indiana and Illinois is an effective force multiplier in ensuring gang members are held accountable for the violence they perpetrate," said Kristen de Tineo, ATF Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Division.