A man known as “King Respect” – a founder of the Bethlehem Sun Tribe of the – was sentenced to prison Wednesday on charges that include discussing a possible killing in connection with a 2004 Bethlehem case known as the “Saucon Park murder” and distributing crack cocaine and methamphetamine in the city.
Luis Colon, 28, of Allentown pleaded guilty to the federal charges last July. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky, who also ordered him to pay a $3,000 fine and complete 10 years of supervised release.
According to information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia:
- On Jan. 27, 2008, Colon and four co-defendants discussed the possible murder of someone they believed had cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation of the “Saucon Park murder.” This refers to the killing of Eugene Martinez, a Latin Kings member from the Bronx. According to a published report, his body was found Jan. 10, 2004 on the side of Fire Lane along Saucon Park.
- Between Nov. 22, 2007 and Feb. 2, 2010, Colon and three co-defendants distributed crack and methamphetamine in Bethlehem.
- In May 2008, Colon hired two people, including a fellow Latin Kings member, to go to Las Vegas to pick up about four pounds of methamphetamine from Colon’s uncle and bring it back to Bethlehem via Philadelphia International Airport. He paid the couriers $40,000 for the purchase and waited at the airport for them to return. But law enforcement officers intercepted their luggage on the return flight and seized 1,793 grams of methamphetamine before Colon could take possession of it.
- On March 17, 2004, Colon and five co-defendants – armed with firearms, body armor and ammunition – went to Vineland, N.J., on orders of the Philadelphia Latin Kings chapter to serve as “soldiers” to assist in the murder of members of the New Jersey Latin Kings. The plan was thwarted when law enforcement raided the gathering location and arrested Colon and other Latin Kings members.
A total of 24 Latin Kings members were charged by federal officials in 2010 with crimes that included using violence and intimidation as a means to maintain territory, power and profits, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The gang even kidnapped, assaulted and murdered its own members for violating any of the gang’s rules.
Colon was one of 12 members charged with a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) conspiracy.
The case was part of the “222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative,” a federally funded program “designed to defeat some of the most violent and pervasive gangs in the country,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.