The purported leader of the Latin Kings gang in Amsterdam has been indicted on felony drug charges by a Montgomery County grand jury.
David Canales, 33, of Amsterdam was known as “First Crown” of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation chapter operating in the area.
He and three other alleged members of the national gang along with a half-dozen other local residents were arrested in a major drug sweep in November.
According to District Attorney Jed Conboy, Canales was formally charged Thursday with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
“The charges contained in the indictment stem from two alleged sales of cocaine,” he said.
If convicted on all counts, he could see anywhere from two to 18 years of prison time.
Also arrested in the November raid were Ricardo Aponte, Carlos M. Vega-Carbonell and Peter W. Santos, all of whom police charged had ties to the Latin Kings.
Santos pleaded guilty in county court weeks ago; Aponte pleaded guilty to a weapons charge last week, receiving a five-year sentence; and Vega-Carbonell was charged only with a misdemeanor — conspiracy.
Aponte was already in jail on a pending unrelated matter during the raid, but was hit with more illegal firearm charges based on new evidence.
Conboy could not comment in depth on the case against the Latin Kings members Monday, but in an earlier interview with The Daily Gazette, he explained the conspicuous lack of gang-related charges against them.
Gangs tend to have a structure and network of trust that is difficult to prosecute, he said.
The arrested Kings were charged with drug sale/possession or illegal firearm counts rather than gang-related charges because “it would be too difficult to establish the necessary linkages and continuity of action to support organized crime allegations,” Conboy said.
Canales made bail after his arrest and will be arraigned Wednesday morning in Montgomery County Court, at which point a trial schedule will be set.