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Latin Kings ‘enforcer’ found guilty of racketeering

Juan Amaya

Juan Amaya

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Updated: April 8, 2014 6:25AM

A high-ranking leader of the Latin Kings street gang who once ordered a young thief be disciplined by having his hands broken with a hammer has been found guilty in a federal racketeering case.

Convicted murderer Juan Amaya, 37, acted as the gang’s enforcer in its stronghold of Little Village, where an estimated 1,000 Latin Kings live.

He was caught on a wiretap ordering 17-year-old Rodolfo Salazar’s hands smashed in 2008, after Salazar allegedly stole from the home of the girlfriend of the Latin Kings national leader, Augustin Zambrano, evidence during a weeklong trial showed.

A cooperating witness, Ruben Caquias, who was in the room when Salazar was punished, testified during the trial that he heard the sounds of Salazar’s knuckles cracking as they were hit with the hammer.

Salazar was fatally gunned down a few months later.

Amaya’s own Latin Kings career saw him reach the rank of “Inca,” just two places below the top spot. But he suffered a setback soon after the hammer incident, when he was accused of plotting with other leaders to overthrow Zambrano, who has since been convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

In addition to the racketeering count, Amaya was also convicted Thursday of gun and drug counts, and he faces a sentence of five years to life.

He previously served 12 years of a 24-year sentence for a murder in the 1990s.


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