The founder of the Latin Kings chapter in Bethlehem was sentenced to 28 years in prison Wednesday, for a criminal career that reached out of Bethlehem into Philadelphia, Vineland and Las Vegas, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Luis Colon – nicknamed “King Respect” – had pleaded guilty on July 9 to conspiracy charges for racketeering and murder, as well as distribution of drugs. He and 11 other had been charged in a 41-count RICO conspiracy in April 2010.
As gang leader of the Bethlehem Sun Tribe, Colon was also known as the “First Crown” or “Inca” of the group.
Among the crimes for which he was convicted:
* Colon and five co-defendants from different Latin Kings chapters traveled to Vineland, N.J., on March 17, 2004, on orders from the Philadelphia’s Inca, William Sosa, to help kill members of the New Jersey Latin Kings. The would-be executioners – armed with guns, body armor and ammunition – were stopped and arrested by law enforcement.
* In January 2008, at a leadership meeting of the Bethlehem Kings, Colon and four co-defendants discussed murdering someone they believed had cooperated with police investigating a recent shooting. Two members of the gang allegedly agreed to kill the informant.
* In May 2008, Colon hired two people to go to Las Vegas, pick up approximately four pounds of methamphetamine from the defendant’s uncle, and return it to Bethlehem via Philadelphia International Airport. Colon was waiting at the airport when law enforcement officers intercepted the luggage, seizing 1,793 grams of the drug.
The Latin Kings have a very formal organizational structure, according to the original indictment. All state offices and local chapters report to the “Motherland” office in Chicago. Members are required to memorize rules, prayers, codes of behavior and rituals contained in a written manifesto.
Anyone who breaks those rules can be tried by a tribunal, punished and perhaps executed.
The Bethlehem gang started reporting and paying dues to the Chicago and Philadelphia offices in 2002, prosecutors say.