4 Gang Members Used Murder to Increase Gang Status: Prosecutors

Four men allegedly committed murder on Northwest Side in hopes of gaining status in a street gang, according to federal prosecutors.

A federal indictment unsealed last week charges four alleged members of the Milwaukee Kings street gang who allegedly committed murder in aid of racketeering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois.

Hector Rojas, 26; Jose Martinez, 25; Santo Lozoya, 21 and Pedro Navarro, 22, have pleaded not guilty in court to the charges, prosecutors said.

Martinez and Lozoya allegedly killed Crispin Coliz on Dec. 16, 2016, according to the indictment. Coliz, 28, got into an argument with the men in a convenience store in the 7200 block of West Grace Street, Chicago police said at the time. When Coliz got into a vehicle and drove away, the men followed him in an SUV, pulled up and shot him in the side of the head.

Navarro allegedly murdered 15-year-old Xavier Soto on April 27, 2017 in the 4900 block of West George Street in Cragin, the indictment states. Navarro allegedly drove up in a vehicle and shot at Soto and a 16-year-old boy, police said. Soto was shot in the head and died two days later at a hospital. The 16-year-old was seriously wounded.

Rojas allegedly shot Daniel Guerra on Sept. 2, 2015 in the 5900 block of West Diversey Avenue in Belmont Cragin, prosecutors said. Rojas allegedly shot three people that night during a fight, police said. Guerra was shot in the neck and chest, and died at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Two other men were also wounded by gunfire.

“Combating violent gangs like the Milwaukee Kings is a top priority in our office,” U.S. Attorney John Lausch said in a statement. “With this indictment, we’ve taken a major step toward removing violent offenders from the streets of Chicago.”

Murder in aid of racketeering is punishable by a mandatory life sentence, and the death penalty is also possible, prosecutors said. The defendants are due for a hearing on June 20.

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