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Burbank Gangbanger Charged With 25 Others In Federal Undercover Sting, Feds Say

Damian Rivera, 31, of Burbank, a ranking member of the Latin Kings and drug trafficker arrested Wednesday on "no-knock" warrant, now faces federal narcotic charges, U.S. Attorney's Office says.

Damian Rivera, 31, also known as “Spook” and “King Spook,” of Burbank, and 25 others are facing federal narcotics charges, most of them for their alleged roles in two drug trafficking organizations, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Rivera, a ranking member of the Latin Kings, headed one of the drug rings that supplied and distributed multi-kilogram quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana in Chicago and the south suburbs--collecting more than $171,000 between March and June, court records show.

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Law enforcement officials said the alleged gang kingpin and 12 of his associates were taken into custody this week following a two-year, deep undercover investigation, in which a federal agent successfully infiltrated the Latin Kings.

The federal charges stem from a narcotics and firearms investigation conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies under the umbrella of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.

Rivera is accused of heading one of the two Latin King drug-trafficking rings where he and his associates allegedly peddled firearms and narcotics to undercover agents and a confidential ATF informant.

He was arrested on Wednesday along with another associate, Emmanuel “Maniac” “Manny” Fernandez, of Chicago. The two were taken into custody on “no-knock” arrest warrants approved by a federal magistrate judge, based on their alleged possession of firearms and propensity for violence.

Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement officials said they seized more than $50,000 cash; four firearms, including a sawed off shotgun; more than two pounds of heroin, all in the Chicago area, as well as nearly two tons of marijuana that was intercepted along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Wednesday’s bust of the 26 alleged gang members wielded an undetermined amount of cash and 13 firearms, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The 278-page, Rivera court affidavit details phone-taps of his recorded conversations on five different cell phones, which he used to arrange heroin and firearm deals to undercover federal agents on multiple occasions.

In June 2011, U.S. Customs officers intercepted 2.5 tons (1,674.8 kilograms) of marijuana hidden inside furniture being driven across the U.S.-Mexican border in a tractor-trailer truck registered to “Damian Rivera dba D. Rivera Construction,” court records alleged.

Law enforcement officials said phone-taps revealed Rivera admitting the “last time he was in Mexico was when he ordered the load of marijuana that was seized by customs officers at the border.”

Of the nine people accused in the Rivera case, two are fugitives and another was already in custody. The defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Eight defendants in the Rivera case face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to a maximum of life in prison with a $10 million fine. The others face sentences ranging from a maximum of 20-40 years and fines up to $5 million.

All the defendants but one were ordered held in federal custody pending detention hearings next week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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