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U.S. Court Convicts Drug Kingpin Said to Terrorize Turf With Violence

From Associated Press

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.

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“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.


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