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Pair Charged In 2003 Drug Murder In Portage

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HAMMOND, Ind. (STMW) – Federal prosecutors are accusing two men, one of whom was affiliated with the Two Six gang, of killing an East Chicago resident 10 years ago as retaliation for stealing 50 kilograms of cocaine from a storage locker in Portage.

Oscar Cosme Jr., 40, of East Chicago, and Kiontay Pennington, 34, of Gary, both face a charge of murder from the use of a gun during a drug trafficking crime, the Post-Tribune is reporting.

Cosmo was arrested Friday, and Pennington was arrested at his house Monday morning. Both men have been ordered held without bail pending a detention and probable cause hearing set for Thursday.

According to a probable cause affidavit unsealed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, Cosme and Pennington — who was associated with the Two Six gang — were two of four people who went after Julio Cartagena on May 16, 2003, in a black Ford Crown Victoria.

Witnesses, including a former Two Six gang member who recognized the men, at the time said they saw men shoot at Cartagena, who was standing in front of an apartment building, and one man walk up to Caratgena as he lay on the ground and shoot him at close range.

East Chicago police were nearby and started chasing the car. The Ford crashed at Cline and Industrial avenues, and the driver, Louis Henderson, a member of the Two Six gang, was killed.

Police talked to the other three passengers — Cosme, Pennington and Adron Tancil — after the crash. Pennington denied shooting at Cartagena, saying that he was the one shot at and that he remembered nothing else until the accident.

Cosme said he knew nothing about a shooting and only that police started chasing them. He claimed at the time that he told Henderson to stop fleeing.

At the time, police said a gun found under Henderson’s body fired the shots that hit Cartagena in the cheek and chest. However, the affidavit says, another magazine of ammunition for the gun was found in Cosme’s jacket, so it is likely that Cosme actually had the gun during the shooting and that the crash knocked it around the car.

None of the men were ever charged in Lake County in connection to the crime, according to online court records.

Other witnesses have since come forward, however, with more information about the killing, including an unnamed cooperating defendant who the affidavit says pleaded guilty to racketeering in another case.

The witnesses told investigators that Cartagena worked at the time for someone identified only as Subject 1, and that in September 2012 Cartegena stole $1 million worth of cocaine and heroin from his employer kept at AAA Stor-Away in Portage. Cartagena told his boss that the cooperating defendant stole the drugs, but the boss didn’t buy the story, the witnesses told investigators.

The theft evidently spurred retaliation against Cartegena, including Pennington and Henderson helping to kidnap his girlfriend and other people a month after the drugs were stolen. Sometime after, two other Two Six members shot at Cartagena’s house, and Henderson told one of the witnesses two weeks before Cartagena was killed that someone was putting out a hit on him.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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