With eight of nine Latin King Goonies in custody following the brutal Bronx anti-gay attack on two teens and a 30-year-old man, members of the street crew are telling investigators they are the victims. You see, if they didn’t follow instructions from their elders to abuse these three men in an abandoned building (and later rob the man’s brother in his home), then they would’ve been terrorized.
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.
Is it so hard to believe these young men were also victimized? Not really. Fear is what gangs — no matter how low-level, like the Goonies — thrive on to recruit members and keep everybody in line. Cross the leaders and you write your own death sentence. Moreover, the 17-year-old victim was a recruit himself, ordered to be abused because he is gay. It was a stark lesson also aimed at existing members: this is what happens when you violate our code.
If their claims of fear and intimidation are true, does it let them off the hook? No. But it’s like the story of Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan: sexually abused youngsters age out and become the pimps, entrapping youthful versions of their former selves for the same regimen of horror. And while it’s difficult to feel any sympathy for human beings who torture other people, any social worker will tell you they were groomed for this type of behavior, and their “mentors” are even worse.