NEW PORT RICHEY — They call her Queen Wanda.
Pasco County deputies arrested a Port Richey woman Thursday they say has ruled a local Latin Kings gang for years.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said that for a decade, "Queen" Wanda Capuano, 44, who rose to power after the death of her husband, a "king" of the gang, was infamous for connections to drug dealing, gang violence and at least five murders.
"When there was a homicide in west Pasco, and it was gang-related," Nocco said, "Wanda's name came up."
After years of waiting for an opportunity to arrest her, at about 4:45 a.m. Thursday deputes raided her home at 7215 San Miguel Drive in Port Richey. She was charged with drug possession and trafficking, according to reports.
Nocco said the start of Capuano's downfall began when Latin Kings member Anthony Capuano — Wanda's current husband — was arrested May 16 after deputies say he broke into a Port Richey home armed with a gun.
Anthony Capuano, 39, was still being held in Land O'Lakes jail Thursday in lieu of $150,000 bail.
He was dealing drugs for Wanda Capuano, Nocco said, so she started dealing to account for the loss since he's been in jail. Deputies responded by taking the gang's assets — buying drugs while undercover.
That's when she and some of her gang members walked into the Sheriff's Office, Nocco said, and threatened to hurt deputies.
"When you start threatening ourselves and our families," he said, "that's when it gets personal."
In addition to Wanda Capuano, Marlon Wright, 34, Sadie Pokol, 19, and Anthony Carrero, 22, — who all lived with her in Port Richey — were also arrested in the raid on drug possession charges. Pedro Perez, 25, who was linked to the group, was arrested two hours later in his home at 6630 Date Palm Blvd. in Port Richey, charged with theft and possession and sale of cocaine.
Wanda Capuano was being held in the Land O'Lakes jail Thursday. Carrero, Pokol, Wright and Perez were also being held Thursday.
Neighbors clapped when they heard deputies' flash-bangs go off during the raid, Nocco said, glad to be rid of the gang. He said the Latin Kings have tried to grow their operations in the area, Port Richey's Embassy Hills.
"It's unfortunate because you have some very, very good people who live in Embassy," Nocco said. "On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have some criminals who live in Embassy.
"Well, today we have eliminated some of those criminals. And we're going to keep the pressure on."