U.S. Court Convicts Drug Kingpin Said to Terrorize Turf With Violence
A drug kingpin who ran what investigators say was an especially violent operation was convicted in federal court Sunday of drug conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering.
Prosecutors say Ricardo Melendez ran a gang that used violence to maintain discipline within its ranks and raked in as much as $10 million a month peddling heroin and cocaine in some of Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods.
The court heard from witnesses who said they had double-crossed Melendez and his top lieutenants and paid for it with maimings and mutilations--ice-pick stabbings, teeth pulled out, fingers chopped off.
Melendez, 30, remained in custody to await sentencing, when he will face mandatory life in prison.
“We’re very happy with the verdict,” said U.S. Atty. Andrew Maloney. “This was a very important drug organization, most of whom will now be locked behind bars for most of their lives.”
Seven members of Melendez’s organization, including his No. 2 man, also were convicted Sunday of various charges including murder, kidnaping and drug conspiracy.
The jury deliberated five days before handing up the verdicts.