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Washington D.C.
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Founding Member of New York’s Largest Latin Kings Set Sentenced to 27 Years in Prison

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DIEGO MATEO, a/k/a “Casa,” was sentenced to 27 years in prison in connection with his participation in the Black Mob set of the Latin Kings and their distribution of narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine.  MATEO pled guilty on February 23, 2022, before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “For two decades, Mateo ran the largest and most violent set of the Latin Kings in the New York area. He recruited hundreds of young men into his gang and used them to run a massive drug operation that committed countless acts of violence. Today’s sentencing — along with the other significant sentences that have been imposed in this case — proves that gang life is not glamorous and will lead to years in prison.”

According to public filings and statements made in court:

The Black Mob is a New York-based set, or “tribe,” of the nationwide Latin Kings gang.  In order to enrich the enterprise, protect and expand its criminal operations, enforce discipline among its members, and retaliate against members of rival gangs, members and associates of the Black Mob committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence; distributed and possessed with intent to distribute narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and crack; committed robberies; and obtained, possessed, and used firearms.

MATEO was the highest-ranking member of the Black Mob.  He founded the gang in 2002 and then grew the Black Mob into the largest Latin Kings set in the New York area with a power base built on massive amounts of drug trafficking and a reputation for violence.  Prior to the instant prosecution, the Black Mob had approximately 300 members.  The fear and power wielded by the Black Mob amplified MATEO’s own personal reputation, making him, at one point, the highest-ranking Latin King in the entire East Coast.  As the leader of the Black Mob, MATEO oversaw the Black Mob’s operations and also ordered and participated in acts of violence and narcotics trafficking.  This violence included multiple arsons and a November 18, 2012, shooting at a gang rival’s funeral that was ordered by MATEO.  Three of the deceased’s family members were shot.

In December 2019, 17 members and associates of the Black Mob were charged with racketeering offenses, narcotics conspiracy, and firearms offenses.  In April 2021, seven additional members and associates of the gang were charged, including MATEO.  The defendants in this case have included the entire senior leadership of the gang and its most violent members.  In addition to today’s sentencing of MATEO, the sentences of the Black Mob leadership have included CARMELO VELEZ (228 months in prison), CHRISTOPHER RODRIGUEZ (210 months in prison), ANGEL LOPEZ (240 months in prison), LUIS SEPULVEDA (180 months in prison), EMMANUEL BONAFE (216 months in prison), MARK WOODS (228 months in prison), WILLIAM GONZALEZ (204 months in prison), ALBERTO BORGES (204 months in prison), RICARDO RICUARTE (168 months in prison), JUAN HERNANDEZ (192 months in prison), RAUL CUELLO (168 months in prison), and PAUL CUELLO (168 months in prison).

MATEO pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics.  In connection with his guilty plea, MATEO further stipulated to his involvement in multiple acts of violence: the November 18, 2012, shooting at a gang rival’s funeral and a 2016 arson of a commercial wedding venue in Connecticut.

In addition to the prison term, MATEO, 46, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Hobson, David Robles, Elinor Tarlow, and Patrick Moroney are in charge of the prosecution.

Read more at the Justice Department

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