Imperial Gangsters Chief Nailed for Killings

The Imperial Gangsters had a standing rule to shoot on sight any rival gang member in their Indiana territory.

They also had a policy to shoot anyone selling drugs in their neighborhood without their permission. One high-ranking member of the organization took these rules quite seriously.

He has been convicted of five murders committed in accordance with the gang’s policies under the banner of the 149th Street Imperial Gangsters, a violent clique of the Imperial Gangsters based in East Chicago.

Bragged about the murders

In his leadership role, the gunman supervised the “shorties,” or prospective members of the 149th Street Imperial Gangsters. He expressed no remorse for his participation in various murders, and indeed bragged about killings and encouraged others to do the same.

In one instance, the gunman knocked on Luis Ortiz’s apartment door in Hammond, Indiana, in September 2007, and shot him dead in the doorway of the apartment. Ortiz was targeted because he was a member of the rival Latin King street gang.

Additionally, evidence showed that the gunman committed the double murder of Miguel Mejias, a Latin King living in Imperial Gangster territory, and Michael Sessum, an associate of Mejias, while they were unarmed and bringing takeout food to their pregnant girlfriends in June 2008.

During that murder, multiple shots fired by the gang leader entered Mejias’ residence, striking a female victim in the arm while she was holding her infant child. Another pregnant female victim and multiple minor victims were also in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

According to testimony at trial, Mejias implored another individual to tell the gunman that he was no longer “gang-banging” and did not want any trouble. In response to this message, the gunman said, “[expletive] him, he was going to bring [Latin] Kings into our neighborhood.”

Endangering innocent bystanders

Also, the gunman and his associates murdered rival Two-Six gang member Miguel Colon in February 2010, as Colon came out of a party. In this incident, the gang leader and Colon exchanged gunfire, endangering several innocent individuals in the vicinity.

Finally, the gunman murdered Latroy Howard in June 2010 for selling drugs in an Imperial Gangster-controlled neighborhood without the permission of the gang. A video introduced at trial showed the gunman circling the block in his car and then approaching on foot and shooting the unarmed Howard twice in the head at point-blank range.

Juan Briseno aka “Tito,” 25, of Hammond, Indiana, was convicted by a jury of murder, attempted murder, a firearms count, engaging in a RICO conspiracy, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and related offenses. Sentencing is scheduled for June 15, 2015.

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