Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Feds indict eight suspected gang members in New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — These eight men, all said to be members of the Valentine Bloods street gang, are young — most in their early 20s, the eldest 29. One, accused of shattering a man's face, turned 18 in June.

Yet as a group, they have been arrested more than 120 times. They've been charged with 64 felonies and been convicted of 20. Authorities say these men are violent, trafficking drugs, guns and fear throughout the New Port Richey area.

They get arrested, post bail and then commit new crimes, officials say.

This week a coalition of local and federal agencies put a stop to it. All eight men were indicted on numerous federal drug and firearms charges. Two were already in jail on other charges. Three were arrested in raids at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Three others are wanted fugitives.

"You don't want the federal government after you," said Virginia O'Brien, special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, at a Wednesday afternoon news conference at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Federal charges carry more prison time than state ones. If convicted, the minimum sentence they could receive is five years. The most is life behind bars.

"We want the most bang for our buck," O'Brien said of charging the men under federal statutes.

The investigation on the Valentine Bloods began a year and a half ago. It was done through a U.S. Department of Justice program called Project Safe Neighborhoods Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, which pulls local, state and federal agencies together with the goal of prosecuting gang members — and working with young people to prevent them from joining in the first place.

Those involved in this case were the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the ATF and the New Port Richey Police Department.

The men who were indicted this week all live around the New Port Richey area.

The alleged leader, David Martin "Blink" Santiago, 28, and Paul David Morman III, 18, were already at the county jail. They were arrested in December on charges they beat a man so viciously that they knocked him out and fractured his face. Santiago had posted bail, only to be arrested last month on charges he shot a man outside a nightclub, the bullet just grazing the man's leg.

Darko Kojic, 20, Alberto "Red" Camacho, 22 and Alfonzo Lee "Joe Boy" Joe, 24, were arrested early Tuesday. Kojic's indictment says that in 2007, he sold cocaine within 1,000 feet of Gulf Middle School in New Port Richey and Miss Betty's Child Care in Port Richey.

Andrew Montalvo, 23, Harold Jason "Kiss" Vazquez Jr., 27, and Antonio Brown, 29, are wanted fugitives.

The ATF is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of each suspect. Anyone with information is urged to call the ATF's toll-free hot line, 1-800-283-4867.

"Oh, we'll find them," Pasco County Sheriff Bob White said at the news conference. "No two ways about that. It's just a matter of time."

He said the indictments send a message to other "would-be gang-bangers."

"We are not going to put up with it," White said.

Martin Rickus, chief of the New Port Richey Police, echoed that notion.

"I'm very happy to have these guys in custody," said Rickus, who said that there might be about 50 to 60 core members of the Valentine Bloods in New Port Richey. He said, as an offshoot of these indictments, that there will be more arrests soon.

"We are on it," he said.

White said the federal government has better sentencing guidelines.

"These are significant criminals, charged with significant crimes," he said. "And they will go away for a significant amount of time."

Reach Erin Sullivan at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Five suspects in custody:

• Alberto "Red" Camacho, 22, of New Port Richey. Charged with cocaine distribution and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

• Alfonzo Lee "Joe Boy" Joe, 24, previously of Tarpon Springs. Charged with cocaine distribution and possession of a firearm by a felon.

• Darko Kojic, 20, of New Port Richey. Charged with three counts of cocaine distribution and two counts of cocaine distribution near a school.

Paul David Morman III, 18, of New Port Richey. Charged with cocaine distribution. He was already in custody, accused of aggravated battery.

David Martin "Blink" Santiago, 28, of New Port Richey. Faces several drug and firearm charges. Was already in jail on other charges.

Three suspects wanted:

• Michael Antonio Brown, 29, of Belle Glade or New Port Richey, charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. His hair might be much shorter.

• Andrew Montalvo, 23, of New Port Richey. Charged with four counts of distribution of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Harold Jason "Kiss" Vazquez Jr., 27, of Port Richey. Indicted with cocaine distribution. Might have shorter hair and not as much facial hair.

Feds indict eight suspected gang members in New Port Richey 02/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mom accused of burying guns after fatal teen shooting declines plea deal


    TAMPA — The Valrico mother accused of hiding the guns after her teenage son shot and killed another boy in their garage told a judge Tuesday that she wants a trial, not a plea deal.

    Heidi Quinn is accused of hiding two guns after her son, Cody, fatally shot 17-year-old Jayquon Johnson in their garage. She faces charges of tampering with evidence. Her son was not charged in Johnson's death because authorities ruled it self-defense. He does face related drug charges. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Stone says no coordination between Trump campaign and Russia

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone said Tuesday he's "aware of no evidence whatsoever" that Trump's campaign coordinated with Russians during the 2016 election.

  3. Pasco deputies: Citgo gas station was selling pipes for crack and meth


    TRILBY — A Citgo gas station is facing hefty fines after Pasco County Sheriff's deputies said clerks weren't just selling gas, but doling out pipes for crack and meth.

  4. What to expect from the Florida Orchestra's 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' show


    With just a few short tings from the celesta, a small piano-style instrument, and you're instantly transported to Harry Potter's wizarding world.

    Courtesy of the Straz Center
  5. Police: Boy, 12, burglarized Melrose Elementary during Hurricane Irma


    ST. PETERSBURG — A 12-year-old boy is facing a felony charge after police say he burglarized Melrose Elementary while the school was closed for Hurricane Irma.

    Melrose Elementary at 1752 13th Ave. S in St. Petersburg was burglarized while the school was closed for Hurricane Irma. A 12-year-old boy has been charged, police said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]