"I got a tip at 5 a.m. that one of our suspects was spotted selling crack on Park Avenue," Marrero said. "I was surprised that they were still local and I thought they would be together, planning their way on out of here. The last information we had said they were taking off for Mexico."
Apparently, that wasn't the case. Christian Atoche, the alleged Latin King street gang member also known as "King Toof," was one of the two men still at large after four other alleged members of the gang had been arrested.
The men were wanted in connection with the brutal slashing and attempted murder of a fellow gang member on a North Bergen street corner in August.
Once Marrero received the tip that Atoche might be selling the crack cocaine in Weehawken, Marrero coordinated his efforts with Weehawken and West New York detectives to head to a Hudson Avenue residence in West New York. The 22-year-old former Union City resident had been calling it home since the warrant for his arrest was issued last week.
Atoche was taken into custody after he was found hiding under a bed in the West New York apartment police said. He was charged with the attempted murder of a fellow Latin Kings member on Aug. 29 on Meadowview Avenue in North Bergen.
The attack had all the makings of a typical Latin Kings hit, with the victim, who is currently receiving police protection, getting razor cuts to the face, back, neck and shoulders, life-threatening wounds that took hundreds of stitches and staples to close.
One at large
Just last week, both the North Bergen police and the State Police announced the arrest of four of the men wanted in the attack, while identifying Atoche and another local member of the gang, Renzo Castello of West New York, also known as "King Skillz," as two others who were wanted in the attack.
Now, they have apprehended a fifth member in Atoche. Only Castello remains at large.
Among those arrested was the leader of the Hudson County chapter and three so-called henchmen, according to State Police officials who have been investigating Latin Kings activity for many years.
Joshua "King Apache" Galindo, 28, of Union City, who is believed to be the leader of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation chapter in Hudson County, was among the first four apprehended and charged with attempted murder.
Also arrested were Jose Santos, 29, of Union City, also known as "King Vengeance," Irving Rivera, 28, of Cliffside Park, also known as "King Irv," and Jose Alvarez, 49, of North Bergen, also known as "King Sinbad." Charges for all six men include attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.
According to the State Police reports, the attack on the victim took place on Aug. 29, following an altercation between Galindo, called the "first crown" or highest ranking member, and the victim.
The gang then allegedly attacked the victim and savagely cut him with box cutters across the face, head, shoulders, and back, and gave him a nearly-fatal wound to his throat.
However, after receiving treatment, the victim is recovering and will fully recover from the attack.
Hello, it's the police
According to Marrero, when North Bergen, Weehawken and West New York police arrived at the Hudson Avenue residence where Atoche was believed to be, they were greeted at the door by 21-year-old Gabriela Aguirre, who allegedly told police that the suspect was not there.
"At first, we were unsure of his location," Marrero said. "I really thought he was going to be on the run, and we certainly didn't expect to find him locally."
However, armed with a search warrant, police entered the apartment. They eventually found him hiding under a bed, according to Marrero. He was also allegedly apprehended with approximately four grams of crack cocaine and $1,700 in cash, police said.
In addition to the charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, Atoche now faces additional charges of drug possession and drug possession with intent to distribute.
"Once we located him, we were able to apprehend him," Marrero said. "We were absolutely excited about making the arrest."
Gabriela Aguirre was also arrested by the West New York police and charged with hindering Atoche's apprehension.
Atoche is still being held at the Hudson County jail in Kearny, with bail set at $250,000. His bail was higher than the other four arrested suspects because of his pending drug charges as well.
North Bergen Police Chief Angelo Busacco applauded the efforts of his Gang Bureau in getting another arrest in the case.
"We were hot on their trail and we received a tip from the Weehawken detectives," Busacco said. "It's just part of ongoing excellent police work. The Weehawken police knew we were looking for this guy and we were able to nail him."
North Bergen police and the State Police Street Gang Unit detectives are asking the public for assistance in locating Castello, still wanted for the Aug. 29 attack.
The public is urged to call (201) 392-2100 or (201) 392-2095 with information on the whereabouts of Castello, a.k.a. "King Skillz." He is considered armed and dangerous.