Chief Connally says federal racketeering indictments the result of years of investigation

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sjpd-chief-connallys-desk-setSt. Joseph Chief of Police, Chris Connally said a federal RICO indictment last week that charged eight people as members of a violent St. Joseph gang was the result of around three years of investigations.

In an interview with KFEQ’s Barry Birr, Connally said he isn’t allowed to go into details on the case.  However, he said the indictments were a result of a lengthy investigation between the St. Joseph Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit, investigators from the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Alcohol , Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Buchanan County Prosecutor’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s offices.

“I think that’s a good example of all those entities coming together.  A lot of work went into it to get some dangerous people off the street,” Connally said.

As we previously reportedVictor Matias-Torres, also known as “Papo” and “King Fenese,” 35, Luis Alfredo Villegas-Rosa, also known as “Puerto Rico,” and “Rico,” 28, his brother, Luis Gabriel Villegas-Rosa, also known as “Conan,” 35, Angel Antonio Martinez-Torres, also known as “Tony,” 37, Angel Rios-Rosa, also known as “Gato,” 30, Jose Morales-Delgado, also known as “Beto,” 32, Luis Calderon-Oliveras, 26, and Ismael Marquez, 29, all of St. Joseph, were charged in a 34-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., last Thursday.

The indictment alleges they committed murder, five attempted murders, drug trafficking and armed robberies, among other crimes, as part of a criminal enterprise. It alleges that all eight of the defendants were involved in a conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). According to the indictment, the criminal enterprise, which began in 2010, was led by Matias-Torres, formerly a high-ranking member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation. Matias-Torres’s gang allegedly engaged in acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, armed assault, armed robbery, extortion and witness intimidation. The gang allegedly trafficked in heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Connally said investigating cases like this takes time.

“There’s a lot of arrests and things made in between but bringing it all together to bring the larger organization off the street is another story,” Connally said. “You have to continue to work diligently for those things to come together.  They always take time.  Complicated cases take time.”

Although the gang was based in St. Joseph, the indictment said it also operated in Kansas, Iowa and Massachusetts, among other places, and recruited many of its members and associates from Puerto Rico.