Tag Archive for gangs

“Nobody Can Care About Me No More”

This is far-and-away the most popular post on the Register, consistently appearing in the top four or five. Thought you might like to know.


Don’t bother trying to write Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) New York City chapter founder Luis Felipe as he serves his life-plus-45-year prison sentence. At least don’t expect an answer from him.
 
When Felipe, 33 years old at the time of his conviction, was sentenced in federal court for an 18-count racketeering conviction that included several murders and attempted murders, the judge not only insisted that Felipe serve his time at the Bureau of Prison’s supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, but placed almost unheard of restrictions on Felipe’s contact with the outside world.
 
At his 1997 sentencing in New York, Felipe, a/k/a King Blood, received no sympathy from the federal judge, the Hon. John S. Martin Jr.
 
“I am someone who does not believe in the death penalty, but if this was a case where if the death penalty were available, I would impose it,” Martin told Felipe.
 
Martin’s sentence, which is as close to a living death as possible, directed that Felipe spend the rest of his days in solitary confinement and included the unheard-of order that Felipe not be allowed write letters to, or be visited by, anyone except his lawyer and close relatives.
 
The sentence surprised even federal prosecutors and prompted a shocked and tearful Felipe to tell the judge that he was being sentenced “to die day by day.”
 
“You are telling me nobody can write to me, nobody can send money to me, nobody can care about me no more,” Felipe told the judge.
 
Felipe spends 23 hours each day in his 7-foot by 11-foot concrete cell that provides a 4-inch wide window to an interior courtyard. The slit allows him to see the sky, but probably not the magnificent mountains surrounding the prison. Even by looking out that courtyard, Felipe is unlikely to see any other inmates. The cells are nearly soundproof, which limits his ability to hear anything from outside of his 80-square-foot world. He eats his meals in his cell, showers there and can watch closed circuit television that features only self-improvement courses and religious broadcasts.
 
(Florence ADMAX Inmate Handbook — includes cell drawings.)
 
After his transfer from the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York to Florence ADMAX, he requested that he be allowed to submit drawings and some of his poems to prisoner-centered publications. Judge Martin refused his request.
 
In 1999, Martin loosened the restrictions somewhat by allowing Felipe to talk with other prisoners like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. He was also allowed to converse with the late Timothy McVeigh who was executed in 2001. Felipe, however, reportedly protested his draconian restrictions and has nothing to say to Kaczynski, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.
 
“I just don’t want to speak to those bombers,” Felipe said in a letter to his attorney.
 
To a great extent, Felipe brought Martin’s restrictions down on himself.
 
Felipe arrived in the United States in 1980 from Cuba as part of the Mariel boat lift. He had previously been a prisoner in Castro’s prisons, and it seems unlikely that Felipe attempted to go straight once he came to the United States.
 
Felipe foundeds the New York chapter of the Almighty Latin King Nation in 1986. While the Latin Kings and their sister organization, the Latin Queens, are essentially a street gang, the organization that was formed in Chicago was created to “promote a sense of Hispanic identity among prison inmates” and to organize Caribbean Hispanics serving jail sentences. In opening a branch in New York, Felipe recruited current and former prison inmates.
 
“The aim of the organization was ostensibly to protect Hispanics from ethnic discrimination at the hands of other inmate organizations and hostile prison authorities,” the Second Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in upholding both Felipe’s federal conviction and sentence.
 
According to the federal government, in addition to promoting Hispanic identity of prisoners, those members on the outside engage in acts of violence, armed robbery, narcotics trafficking, and murder. A small portion of the ill-gotten proceeds go to support relatives of imprisoned members, depending on the member’s status in the gang.
 
Convicted of manslaughter and serving a nine-year stretch in New York’s Collins Correctional Facility for the killing of a girlfriend during a drunken rage, Felipe, like many other gang leaders, continued to direct the activities of his gangsters on the outside.
 
He had little trouble communicating with the outside world. In early April 1993 while at Collins, New York State Department of Correctional Services officials learned that he had violated prison regulations by attempting to kite letters to an inmate at another facility. In this sense, kiting is prison slang for using the underground prisoner-to-prisoner interoffice mail system to avoid prison rules preventing correspondence to persons on a prisoner’s Negative Contact list (Which includes every other convict in the system).
 
n.b. Once your faithful correspondent used the term “kite” at work to refer to interoffice mail, which required a translation. This was after he had to explain to his boss what a “burner” phone was.
 
From the letters officials learned that Felipe was the leader of the Latin Kings, an organization named by NY Corrections as its third-largest prison gang. One of the kites stated that an unidentified person whom Felipe believed had betrayed the Latin Kings “deserved to die.”
 
When law enforcement officials discovered that being behind bars barely inconvenienced Felipe, he was transferred to the state’s maximum security prison at Attica. There, officials discovered that Felipe was directing plans to murder. One of his letters, which were monitored by corrections officials contained orders to carry out the homicides of six individuals: William Cartegena, Ismael Rios, Rafael Gonzalez, Margie Carderon, Ronnie Gonzalez, and Pedro Rosario.
 
In May 1993, Felipe began to view fellow Latin King Rafael Gonzalez, a/k/a “King Mousey,” as a threat to his leadership and therefore enlisted William Cartegena, a/k/a “King Lil Man,” a friend and subordinate leader of the Kings, to kill him. Five Kings went to a building where Gonzalez was supposed to be, and there shot and killed Gonzalez’s brother-in-law, Victor Hirschman. They fired shots at Gonzalez too, and although they seriously wounded him, they did not succeed in killing him.
 
Cartegena’s failure earned him a “green light,” or death sentence from the gang. In September 1993 Cartegena was choked to death by several Latin Kings who thereafter dismembered him and removed his Latin Kings’ tattoo from his body. Later that same month, after the Kings who were selected to murder Margie Carderon proved unable to shoot and kill her, they decided to burn the apartment building where she lived. Although Carderon escaped the fire, two of her neighbors suffered severe burns.
 
Next, Felipe ordered the murders of Ismael Rios, a/k/a “King J.R.,” and Ronnie Gonzalez, a/k/a “King Ronnie,” in September 1993. Latin Kings gunned down Rios and attempted to kill Gonzalez, who ran away and escaped unharmed.
 
Pedro Rosario was considered an enemy of the Latin Kings because whilejailed at Rikers Island, he slashed several ALKQN members. In return, he was knifed, but survived.
 
At his five-week trial in 1996, based on more than 60 letters written by Felipe and the testimony of many of his targets, Felipe was convicted of 18 counts of racketeering and murder.
 
It was at his sentencing for these crimes that Martin placed the restrictions on Felipe.
 
“I do not do it out of my sense of cruelty,” the judge said at the sentencing. Martin pointed out that most of Felipe’s targets were ALKN members themselves and therefore it was imperative to limit Felipe’s correspondence with his former gang.
 
When the Second Circuit upheld the restrictions, the court found “at least at this time, there are no readily available alternative means of protecting people from appellant’s wrath.”
 
Spanish-language interview with King Luis Felipe…Entrevista en espanol con el Rey Luis Felipe

Well Organized and Extremely Violent

Marcellos “Cello” Anderson, a Memphis drug dealer, considered Tony Carruthers to be a close and trustworthy friend. As a result of his misplaced trust, Anderson, his mother, and a friend were buried alive in a city cemetery.
 
Carruthers was sitting in a Tennessee prison in 1993 serving time for aggravated arson, aggravated assault and battery, and armed robbery when he wrote to friend that when he got out he intended “to make those streets pay me” and pledged that “everything I do from now on will be well organized and extremely violent.”
 
Shortly before he was paroled, Carruthers was transferred to the Mark Luttrell Reception Center where he was assigned to a work detail digging graves at a local veterans cemetery. One day, after burying a body, he remarked to a fellow inmate, “that would be a good way, you know, to bury somebody if you’re going to kill them. If you ain’t got no body, you don’t have a case.”
 
Carruthers plotted with a friend and fellow inmate, James Montgomery, an armed robber and violent felon, to take over the streets of his neighborhood as drug-dealer-in-chief. To do so meant getting rid of Marcello Anderson and his main dealer, Andre “Baby Brother” Johnson.
 
Marcellos Anderson was a good target. He wore a gold-and-diamond ring worth more than $2,000 and was earning significant amounts of money dealing cocaine.
 
“He was not a choir boy,” State Prosecutor Jerry Harris said. “He had money, he had access to dope, he had a car and he had his badge – a big-time money ring full of diamonds.”
 
Upon his release from custody, Carruthers, a gangbanger with alleged ties to the Gangster Disciples, made good on his promise to be extremely violent and used his bright idea of burying his victims in a graveyard.
 
First, shortly after his release in November 1993, he met up with Cello and Baby Brother, who fronted him $200 to tide him over.
 
A month later, the inmate to whom he shared his plan to dispose of the bodies, was released from prison and alerted Cello and Baby Brother about Carruthers’s plan. They dismissed it, believing that their friend would not double cross them.
 
James Montgomery was released from prison on January 11, 1994. He immediately looked up Baby Brother and Cello, informing them that he, not them, was in charge of their neighborhood. It was not a pleasant meeting, according to Baby Brother.
 
“It was my neighborhood before I left, and now I’m back and it’s my neighborhood again,” Montgomery said. “You feeling now like I’m going to blow your motherfucking brains out. You need to get in line around here or we’re going to go to war over this neighborhood.”
 
Carruthers confirmed Montgomery’s claim, but tried to assure Baby Brother that he was not in danger.
 
“We already got our man staked out,” he said. “You all right. If it’s any problem, we’ll deal with it later.”
 
On February 23, 1994, Cello borrowed a white Jeep Cherokee from his cousin. Around 4:30 p.m. February 24, witnesses saw him and 17-year-old Frederick Tucker riding in the Jeep along with James Montgomery and his brother, Jonathan. A half-hour later, the four men showed up at the house of the Montgomery brothers’ cousin. The quartet went into the basement.
 
A few moments later, James Montgomery came up and told his cousin to leave so he could “take care of some business.” The cousin returned later that evening, found Carruthers had joined the group. The only other person she saw there was James Montgomery. They asked her to leave once more and she did. The Jeep was gone at that time.
 
When she returned, the woman was told to go upstairs to her bedroom and stay there until James told her he was leaving. When he did so, she went downstairs and saw James Montgomery, Carruthers, Tucker and Cello leave in the Jeep.
 
Contacted later by police, she told them that Tucker and Cello had their hands tied behind their backs, but on the stand during the trial of Carruthers and James Montgomery, she claimed that statement was false. However, she also told police that Carruthers had threatened her life.
 
While Carruthers and James Montgomery were with Tucker and Cello, Cello’s mother, Delois Anderson, was at the home she shared with her son. Her niece called about 8 p.m. and someone picked up the phone but said nothing. The niece tried several more times, but received no answer. When the niece showed up around 9 p.m., Delois Anderson was missing. Her dinner was on the table and it was clear she had been interrupted while eating.
 
Carruthers and James Montgomery took Tucker, Cello and Delois Anderson to the Rose Hill Cemetery in south Memphis where the open grave of an elderly woman was waiting for her funeral the next day. The grave was located near the cousin of the Montgomery brothers.
 
At the side of the grave, the three victims lay on the ground, their arms bound, and unsuccessfully pleaded for their lives.
 
Early the next morning, the white Jeep Cherokee was discovered across the state line in Mississippi. It had been destroyed by fire. The owner was contacted by fire officials and from there talked to Delois Anderson’s cousin. She filed a missing persons report with police.
 
Because James and Jonathan Montgomery were two of the last people seen with Tucker and Cello, they became the focus of the police investigation. Jonathan proved to be the weakest link. He was brought in for questioning while police ran down other leads. They weren’t hard to find.
 
One man, who had known the the Montgomerys since junior high school, told authorities that around 8:45 p.m. on February 24, Jonathan Montgomery paged him. Jonathan said, “Man, a nigga got them folks.” When asked, “What folks?” Jonathan replied, “Cello and them” and said something about stealing $200,000. Jonathan arranged to meet his friend in person. Jonathan arrived at the man’s home at about 9:00 p.m. and told him, “Man, we got them folks out at the cemetery on Elvis Presley, and we got $200,000. Man, a nigga had to kill them folks.”
 
While Jonathan was at his friend’s home, James called him. Jonathan then asked to borrow the man’s car after he refused to drive Jonathan to the cemetery.
 
When the car was not returned, the man called James Montgomery’s cellphone at around 11 p.m. James told its owner that he did not know where Jonathan was, that Jonathan did not have a driver’s license, and that the car should be returned by 4 a.m.
 
When it was returned, the car was very muddy. The man drove James Montgomery and Carruthers to Montgomery’s mother’s home and then drove away with Jonathan Montgomery, whom he described later as “paranoid and nervous.”
 
Jonathan repeatedly told the friend that “they had to kill some people.”
 
The Montgomery brothers and Carruthers subsequently took the car to a carwash, and James Montgomery paid an unidentified elderly man to clean the interior and the trunk of the car.
 
After Jonathan Montgomery abruptly left the carwash, Carruthers and James Montgomery asked the car’s owner what Jonathan had told him, but the man replied nothing.
 
Several days later James Montgomery came to his home and offered him an AK-47 assault rifle because Montgomery said he had heard that the man “was into it with some people on the street.” James Montgomery told him the rifle had “blood on it.” At Montgomery’s trial, the man testified that he interpreted this statement to mean that someone had been shot with the weapon.
 
The man was correct in suspecting that someone had been shot, but it turns out that the AK was not responsible for killing the Andersons and Tucker.
 
On March 3, 1994, about one week after a missing person report was filed on Delois and Marcellos Anderson, Jonathan Montgomery directed detectives from the Memphis Police Department to the grave at the Rose Hill Cemetery on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
 
The casket of the woman who had been buried there was exhumed and the authorities discovered the bodies of the three victims buried beneath the casket under several inches of dirt and a single piece of plywood.
 
The body of Delois Anderson was lying at the bottom of the grave and the bodies of the two male victims were lying on top of her. The hands of all three victims were bound behind their backs. Frederick Tucker’s feet were also bound and his neck showed signs of bruising caused by a ligature. A red sock was found around Delois Anderson’s neck. Marcellos Anderson was not wearing any jewelry.
 
The pathologist testified that Delois Anderson died from asphyxia caused by several factors: the position of her head against her body, dirt in her mouth and nose, and trauma from weight on her body. Frederick Tucker had received a gunshot wound to his chest, which would not have been fatal had he received medical care. He had also suffered injuries from blunt trauma to his abdomen and head resulting in broken ribs, a fractured skull, and a ruptured liver.
 
He testified that Tucker was shot and placed in the grave, where the force of compression from being buried produced the other injuries and, along with the gunshot wound, caused his death.
 
According to the medical examiner, Marcellos Anderson had been shot three times: a contact wound to his forehead that was not severe and two shots to his neck, one of which was also not serious. However, the gunshot causing the other neck wound had entered Anderson’s windpipe and severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the neck down. This wound was not instantaneously fatal. Anderson had also suffered blunt trauma to his abdomen from compression forces.
 
The ME opined that each victim was alive when buried.
 
After implicating his brother, Jonathan Montgomery then fled to Milwaukee, where he was captured and returned to Memphis. While awaiting trial, Jonathan hanged himself in jail.
 
Carruthers and James Montgomery were indicted and went on trial in 1996.
 
Six court-appointed defense lawyers represented Carruthers prior to his trial, and all six succeeded in being relieved after complaining of noncooperation, harassment and threats from Carruthers. The judge ordered him to act as his own attorney.
 
“Enough is enough,” Judge Joseph Dailey said.
 
Both men were convicted and sentenced to death, but Montgomery’s conviction was overturned on appeal when the court ruled that the two cases should have been tried separately.
 
He subsequently pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and received parole in 2015. His trip from death row to the streets of Memphis stirred some controversy when the family of the victims complained they had not been notified of any parole hearings.
 
The county prosecutor responded that it was not his job and the state noted the family had not signed up for notification.
 
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