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Indictment: Latin Kingpin,10 Gang Members In NJ Prison ‘Hit Squad’ Targeted State Investigators

Frank “Lafay” Blake
Frank “Lafay” Blake Photo Credit: INSET: NJ Dept. of Corrections / Googlemaps

UPDATE: Members of a state prison “hit squad” who were already charged with beating a fellow inmate also attacked others while targeting investigators who got wise to them, an indictment returned by a New Jersey grand jury alleges.

State prosecutors earlier this year charged Frank “Lafay” Blake, 33, of Hillside and eight inmates with an assault at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, as well as with plans to carry out another at Northern State Prison in Newark.

An indictment returned in Trenton this week adds new assault charges against Blake -- the reputed leader of the Elizabeth chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) street gang -- and 10 current and former shank-armed inmates, Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck said Wednesday.

It also says that Blake and inmate Alexander “D Noble” Chludzinski, 27, of Phillipsburg, “discussed going to the homes of [state Department of Corrections] investigators leading this investigation to commit violence against them,” Bruck said.

The indictment returned by a grand jury Superior Court in Trenton was unsealed with the arrest Wednesday of defendant Maurice “King Onyx” Diaz Young, 35, of Trenton, he said.

Named in the indictment with Diaz, Blake and Chludzinski are:

  • Eduardo “King Bay Bay” Lago, 28, of Newark;
  • Roberto “Taz” Garcia, 25, of Carteret;
  • William “King Stitch” Figueroa, 27, of Hightstown;
  • Kevin “King Jafi” Washington, 32, of Atlantic City;
  • Andy “Chango” Reyes, 25, of Somerset;
  • James “King Samurai” Zarate, 33, of Randolph;
  • Larry “King Legend” Cardona, 28, of Elizabeth;
  • Maurice “King Onyx” Diaz Young, 35, of Trenton;
  • Juan Colon, 53, of Trenton.

According to the indictment:

  • An inmate suffered a brain injury when he was brutally beaten by Garcia and Lago -- at the direction of Blake via Figueroa and Reyes -- in the New Jersey State prison yard;
  • Chludzinski stabbed a targeted inmate with a shank in a shower at New Jersey State;
  • Reyes and Garcia attacked another New Jersey State inmate for an unidentified member of another street gang in exchange for him attacking one of their targets;
  • Zarate and Cardona attacked another inmate shortly before the first complaints were filed earlier this year.

Another inmate was targeted for assault at Northern State, but state investigators learned of the plot and put him in protective custody, Bruck said.

All 11 men named in the indictment are charged with conspiracy. Nine are charged with first-degree gang criminality.

Investigators arrested Blake at his home earlier this year while seizing a .45-caliber pistol, a .357-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, a 9mm pistol, an illegal large-capacity magazine and additional rounds including hollow-points, Bruck said.

He’s charged with promoting organized street crime, in addition to various weapons and ammo counts, including being a convicted felon in possession of both, and drug offenses for having meth and two digital scales when he was arrested, among other counts, the attorney general said.

Blake and Chludzinski are charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, obstruction and making terroristic threats against the state investigators.

Cardona, Chludzinski, Reyes, and Zarate are charged with possessing shanks, while Cardona is charged with possessing a cell phone in prison. Diaz Young and Colon are also charged with solicitation or recruitment to join a criminal street gang.

Bruck's Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) filed the original charges during the investigation by the DOC Special Investigations Division (SID) and OPIA Corruption Central Squad.

Deputy Attorneys General Colin J. Keiffer and Travis Miscia are prosecuting the case for the state, assisted by Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben and other members of the state Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, he said.

Bruck thanked all of the investigators and detectives involved while not identifying them for security reasons. He also cited the assistance of the New Jersey State Police TEAMS North Unit, the state Division of Criminal Justice Cyber Crimes Unit, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Division and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

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