Rafael R. Rivera of Jersey City, a Latin Kings gang member, has been sentenced to 10 years in state prison for crimes he committed as the leader of a network that distributed cocaine and illegal guns, the state Attorney General‘s office announced on Wednesday.
Rivera, 33, must serve at least 3½ years before he will be eligible for parole consideration. He was sentenced by state Superior Court Judge Kevin G. Callahan in Jersey City.
Rivera pleaded guilty on June 8 to a two-count accusation charging him with first-degree distribution of cocaine and third-degree unlawful disposition of a sawed-off shotgun.
The charges were the result of an investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, conducted with assistance from the Jersey City police. In April 2009, the Division of Criminal Justice initiated an investigation into a narcotics distribution ring under the control of members of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation street gang, or Latin Kings, operating in and around Jersey City. The investigation focused on Rivera, also known as “Rome,” a member of the Latin Kings who led the ring.
During the course of the investigation, a Criminal Justice undercover detective purchased 20 ounces of cocaine, three handguns, and two sawed-off shotguns from Rivera. The investigation also resulted in the arrests of 12 other people, who have either pleaded guilty and are facing prison sentences ranging from three to five years or are facing pending charges.
Rivera has a lengthy criminal history. Since 1995, he has been arrested 19 times and has seven prior convictions on narcotics and theft charges.
Deputy Attorney General Paul Salvatoriello prosecuted the case.. The investigation was conducted and coordinated by Salvatoriello, Deputy Attorney General David Noble, Det. Mario B Estrada, Lt. Christopher Donohue, Det. Patrick Sole, Det. Ho Chul Shin, Det. Brian Bruton, Det. Noelle Holl and Det. Richard Dasilva Jr. They were assisted by the Jersey City police.
– TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM