By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- An Amsterdam man alleged to be the "first crown" of the city's division of the Latin Kings was indicted on drug charges by a Montgomery County grand jury Thursday.
David M. Canales, 33, of 83 Academy St., was formally charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to officials in the office of District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy.
Canales was one of more than a dozen people arrested by Amsterdam Police Department during a drug bust spread across five locations in the city in November 2012. He reportedly sold cocaine to "police sources" on two occasions in September last year.
The arrests were made after a five-month long investigation into drug and gang activity in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police, the county Sheriff's Office and the Schenectady Police Department.
The National Gang Crime Research Center says Latin Kings is a predominantly Hispanic street gang originated in Chicago in the 1960s. Today, its influence stretches nationwide in "formal organizations with lengthy written constitutions, by-laws and elaborate ceremonies."
"That's why the FBI got involved with this investigation," said APD Chief Greg Culick. "[Canales] was considered the first crown in Amsterdam, and he was basically supposed to report to the higher-ups in the Syracuse/Rochester region. He was responsible for keeping the gang in control, and following the rules and structure."
Det. Lt. Kurt Conroy said the department surveyed some of the group's meetings during its investigation, and ultimately confirmed there are 10 Latin King members in Amsterdam, with roughly 25 people loosely-tied to the organization.
"The bust seems to have put a crimp in that organization for sure," said Culick. "I think people are leery -- they know we know about them, they know we have the means to investigate them, and we're not going to drop the ball."
Canales is expected to return to court for arraignment, but it was not scheduled as of Friday afternoon. Records indicate he is not currently incarcerated at the county jail, indicating he may have posted bail.