Members of Bronx gang say they were victims themselves: Torture them, or we’ll torture you!
Source: NY Daily News — The members of a sadistic Bronx crew accused of torturing a man and two teens because they were gay claimed the gang’s leaders forced them to participate – or become victims themselves.
Police sources said several members of the Latin King Goonies told detectives they would have been slashed and beaten if they did not help torment the defenseless victims.
The threats were allegedly made by ringleader Ildefonso (Cheto) Mendez, who orchestrated the homophobic assaults after learning that a 17-year-old gang recruit was gay. That recruit was made to watch as they sodomized his older boyfriend with a miniature baseball bat – and the teen was then forced to burn his lover with cigarettes.
The gangbangers sodomized the third victim, also 17, with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger.
Mendez and six other gang members were waiting to be arraigned in the Bronx last night on charges including assault and unlawful imprisonment. All of the crimes will be prosecuted as hate crimes, carrying longer prison terms if they’re found guilty.
Some of the suspects shaved their heads before they were arrested in hopes of altering their appearances and avoid identification by witnesses, police sources said.
An eighth gang member, 23-year-old Elmer (Macho) Confresi, surrendered to police yesterday. Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, was still being sought.
The father of suspect Steven Caraballo said he was “shocked” when police pulled his 17-year-old son from the family’s Bronx home.
“He never said anything about hating gay people,” said Jose Caraballo as he stood outside the Bronx Criminal Courthouse. “I don’t believe my son would do this. He’s a good kid and not some thug.”
Other relatives who showed up at court refused to speak, saying they were afraid of a violent reprisal by the Latin Kings.
The sick attacks – the latest in a surge in anti-gay incidents across the region – outraged public leaders.
“When any New Yorker is attacked because of who they are or who they love, the fabric that binds us together is torn,” Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.
The torture began early last Sunday in an abandoned Morris Heights building – nicknamed the Goonie House – where gang members frequently partied. The 30-year-old victim’s older brother was later beaten and robbed at his Bronx home.
Mendez was charged with robbery in 2005 and with gun possession in 2007 and 2009, records show. Neighbors at his E. 197th St. building described Mendez rounding up friends to torture a stray cat two months ago. “One of the cat’s eyes was out and one of these [guys] was poking its eye socket with a stick,” said the neighbor. “They were cheering like they just scored a touchdown.”