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Acting AG Announces Indictment of 11 Men in Alleged “Hit Squad” of Inmates

By rlsmetro on
Elizabeth

Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of an alleged local leader of the Latin Kings street gang and ten current and former inmates under his command who allegedly formed a “hit squad” within the prison system to commit assaults on behalf of the gang.

According to Acting Attorney General Bruck, Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside, an alleged leader of the Elizabeth chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) street gang, was initially charged in April 2021 along with eight other alleged members of ALKQN who allegedly conspired to carry out assaults on behalf of the gang in the state prison system.

They were charged, at that time, with a brutal attack on an inmate in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and a planned assault on another inmate in Northern State Prison in Newark that was prevented by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC), Acting Attorney General Bruck said.

The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) obtained a state grand jury indictment on Tuesday, September 14, charging defendants with four more vicious assaults in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

The indictment charges the nine original defendants plus two additional alleged ALKQN gang members. The indictment was sealed pending the arrest of defendant Maurice Diaz Young, 35, of Trenton, who was arrested today.

According to Acting Attorney General Bruck, the indictment results from an investigation by members of the DOC Special Investigations Division (SID) and OPIA Corruption Central Squad.

The investigation revealed that Blake and inmate Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg, allegedly discussed going to the homes of DOC-SID investigators leading this investigation to commit violence against them.

“We will not tolerate gang-related violence in our state prisons,” Acting Attorney General Bruck said.

“This indictment reaffirms our commitment to ensuring the safety of both inmates and correctional officers behind the prison walls. I am especially grateful to our Office of Public Integrity & Accountability and DOC’s Special Investigations Division for their partnership on this investigation.”

“Central to our mission is a commitment to operate safe and humane facilities,” said New Jersey Department of Corrections Acting Commissioner Victoria Kuhn, Esq. “We have zero tolerance for those that compromise the integrity of our efforts and applaud the work of the NJDOC’s Special Investigations Division and the OPIA in bringing these individuals to justice.”

According to the indictment, the following 11 men are charged with conspiracy. Nine of them—Blake, Diaz Young, Lago, Garcia, Chludzinski, Washington, Reyes, Zarate, and Cardona—are charged with gang criminality. Blake is also charged with promoting organized street crime.

  • Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside
  • Eduardo Lago, aka “King Bay Bay,” 28, of Newark
  • Roberto Garcia, aka “Taz,” 25, of Carteret
  • William Figueroa, aka “King Stitch,” 27, of Hightstown
  • Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg
  • Kevin Washington, aka “King Jafi,” 32, of Atlantic City
  • Andy Reyes, aka “Chango,” 25, of Somerset
  • James Zarate, aka “King Samurai,” 33, of Randolph
  • Larry Cardona, aka “King Legend,” 28, of Elizabeth
  • Maurice Diaz Young, aka “King Onyx,” 35, of Trenton
  • Juan Colon, 53, of Trenton

The indictment alleges the following acts of violence and attempted acts of violence against inmates in the state prison system:

It is alleged that at Blake’s direction—and with Figueroa, Reyes and Diaz Young participating in planning the assault—Garcia and Lago assaulted an inmate in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on September 28, 2020, punching and kicking him in the head, and causing him to suffer respiratory failure and a traumatic brain injury.

Between December 2020 and April 2021, Blake allegedly conspired with and directed Chludzinski, Reyes, Washington, Zarate, and Cardona in planning an assault on an inmate at Northern State Prison in Newark.

DOC-SID investigators learned of the alleged plot and placed the targeted inmate in protective custody to prevent the attempted assault.

On October 18, 2019, Chludzinski allegedly attacked an inmate with a makeshift weapon known as a “shank” in a shower facility in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, causing the victim to suffer multiple puncture wounds.

In April 2020, Reyes, Garcia, and a member of a different street gang identified in the indictment as “Individual #1” allegedly planned that Garcia would attack an inmate in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on behalf of Individual #1, in exchange for which Individual #1 would attack an inmate who was targeted by Reyes and Garcia.

On April 5, 2020, Individual #1 allegedly carried out his attack in the prison yard, repeatedly punching and kicking the victim in the head, causing him to be hospitalized with head trauma.

The next day, April 6, 2020, Garcia allegedly attacked the second victim in the prison yard, punching and kicking him in the head and upper body, resulting in bodily injury.

It is alleged that Zarate and Cardona attacked an inmate on April 21, in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, repeatedly punching and kicking the victim in the head and body, resulting in significant bodily injury.

The indictment charges Diaz Young and Colon with solicitation or recruitment to join a criminal street gang for allegedly soliciting an inmate to join ALKQN and participate in criminal conduct on behalf of the gang in November and December 2020.

Blake and Chludzinski are charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, third-degree terroristic threats, and fourth-degree obstruction for the alleged threats of violence against DOC-SID members investigating this case.

Cardona, Chludzinski, Reyes, and Zarate are charged with possessing shanks, and Cardona is charged with possessing a cell phone in prison.

When Blake was arrested on April 22, investigators executed a search warrant at his home, seizing a .45-caliber pistol, a .357-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, a 9mm pistol, an illegal large-capacity magazine, additional bullets, over one-half pound of methamphetamine, and two digital scales.

For those items, he is charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of a weapon during the commission of a drug offense, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and other drug and weapons offenses.