HAMMOND, Ind. (STMW) — A Latin Kings street gang member will serve 25 years in prison in connection with his part in the double homicide outside a Griffith restaurant in February 2007.
The sentence is five years less than Jason Ortiz’s co-defendant Martin Anaya received earlier Thursday at his sentencing hearing at the U.S. District Court in Hammond.
Both men were sentenced in connection to the racketeering conspiracy of the Latin Kings, which included more than a dozen murders and dealing hundreds of pounds of cocaine and marijuana.
Ortiz, 30, of Chicago, pleaded guilty a year ago to the conspiracy and admitted that he was one of six men who drove to a restaurant in Griffith in 2007 to kill two rival gang leaders, James Walsh and Gonzalo Diaz. Ortiz said that although he did not plan the killings, which were ordered in retaliation for the shooting death of gang leader and Highland resident Alexander Vargas’ brother, he was in the car and had a gun to provide cover for the actual shooters.
U.S. Judge Rudy Lozano also found that Ortiz played a role in the shooting death of an Illinois woman, Christina Campos.
Lozano also found Anaya, 42, of Chicago, responsible in her death, although a federal jury acquitted him of murdering her. The jury did convict him last fall on the racketeering conspiracy count, and Lozano sentenced Anaya to 30 years in prison.
Witnesses testified during Anaya’s trial that he, Ortiz and other Latin Kings members drove to an area known to be dominated by the rival gang Latin Counts to start trouble. Gunshots were fired, including one that hit and killed Campos.
Lozano said that although there might not have been enough evidence to unquestionably convict Anaya in the murder, there was enough to support felony murder. He also ruled that at the very least, Anaya was part of a mob action that he knew could lead to someone’s death.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for Ortiz to serve life in prison, but his plea deal called for him to serve just 25 years.
His attorney, Gojko Kasich, said that Ortiz grew up around gangs and faced the decision at 12 of joining one or being beaten up by gang members. He committed his first crime that year.
“It’s almost impossible to imagine,” Kasich said.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)