Gang leader pleads guilty to racketeering, drug charges

A man described by authorities as the former second in command of the Massachusetts Almighty Latin Kings gang has pleaded guilty to racketeering and drug charges, federal prosecutors said.

Jorge Rodriguez, 32, who pleaded guilty Tuesday, faces up to 25 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for Oct. 16, according to the office of U.S. Attorney for Boston Andrew Lelling.

Rodriguez ran a cocaine distribution network in New Bedford that used apartment buildings known as “trap houses” to distribute the narcotics, prosecutors said.

During the investigation, Rodriguez was recorded cooking cocaine base, directing violence against rival gang members, handing out discipline, and handling firearms, according to court documents.

A federal grand jury last December indicted 62 leaders, members and associates of the Latin Kings. Rodriguez is the first defendant to plead guilty in the case.

Federal prosecutors decribe the Latin Kings as a violent gang with members across the nation that sells drugs to generate revenue.