Jun. 20, 2023 By Bill Parry
A Latin Kings gang leader from Queens was found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn of the 2017 murder of a fellow gang member at the London Planetree Playground in Woodhaven and Ozone Park border.
Jonathan “Jayo” Garcia, 29, was convicted of gunning down Joshua “Monster” Flores, a 23-year-old from West Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, as he ran for his life. The jury reached the guilty verdict following a four-day trial in Brooklyn federal court before U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.
According to court filings and evidence presented in court during the trial, on May 18, 2017, Garcia brought a firearm to a meeting with other Latin King members with whom he had been arguing and who intended to revoke his gang membership. During the meeting that took place inside London Planetree Playground, Garcia began to argue with other gang members. When the argument escalated, one of Garcia’s associates fired a warning shot into the air, and the gang members ran for cover. Garcia then grabbed the handgun from his associate and shot at the fleeing Latin Kings, hitting Flores as he tried to escape. The bullet traveled through his back, into his jaw. He was transported by private means to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
The murder elevated Garcia’s status with the Latin Kings, including the gang subset known as the Black Mob, with whom Garcia committed additional crimes in the years following the murder, according to federal prosecutors.
The Latin Kings is a racketeering enterprise that operates in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island, according to the feds. In order to enrich the enterprise, protect and expand its criminal operations, enforce discipline among its members and retaliate against members of rival gangs, members and associates of the Black Mob committed, conspired, attempted and threatened to commit acts of violence; distributed and possessed with intent to distribute narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and crack; committed robberies; and obtained, possessed and used firearms.
Garcia was found guilty of conspiracy to commit racketeering, which carries a maximum term of life in prison; murder in aid of racketeering, which carries a mandatory term of life in prison or the death penalty; narcotics conspiracy, which carries a maximum term of life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, which carries a maximum term of life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of seven years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other term of in prison.
“Jonathan Garcia gunned down his victim, 23-year-old Joshua Flores, to gain standing within the violent Latin Kings street gang,” U.S. Attorney Damian Wiliams said following the verdict on June 15. “Then, Garcia bragged about the murder for years as he advanced in the ranks of the Latin Kings and engaged in additional violence and drug trafficking with his fellow gang members. Today, a unanimous jury held Garcia accountable for his brutal killing of Joshua Flores and the devastating impact of his crimes on the community. This Office remains fully committed to working with our law enforcement partners to root out gang violence from the streets of New York City.”
Garcia has been a member of the Latin Kings since 2012. His sentencing is pending.