JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Aaron Bowers, 26, lived up to those rapper lyrics that he quotes on his Facebook page, according to Will County authorities who Wednesday charged him with first-degree murder.
Bowers is among 19 people charged in a gang sweep that was part of Operation: King Kong.
Police say all 19 are Latin King street gang members, including Bowers who for years has put his gang tattoos and hand signs on public display via social media...as he hid in plain sight in Joliet, where he is accused of killing 28-year-old Nichole Rodriguez. Ms. Rodriguez was shot to death near her home in 2010. She was sitting in a car with her stepsister while her 8-year-old daughter was in the back seat and witnessed the execution. The stepsister wasn't hurt.
Since 2010, Bowers has had numerous contacts with police and was arrested on various criminal charges - but always returned to the same neighborhood where he allegedly murdered the Joliet mother.
During the investigation leading up to Wednesday's sweep, detectives say they obtained evidence allowing for Bowers to be arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He also faces six counts of weapons violations and is being held in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
"We've been conducting gang sweeps since the early 1990s, and they have always reduced the kind of street violence that claimed the life of Nichole Rodriguez in 2010," said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow. "Street gangs rely on organization and numbers to wreak havoc in our communities, but these multi-jurisdictional sweeps tear down their structures and reduce their ranks significantly."
Police also seized more than 40 guns, 230 grams of cocaine and 200 grams of meth in a two-year investigation conjoining county and federal law enforcement agencies aimed at disrupting street gang trafficking and violence.
"The Latin Kings are a very organized gang with an extensive history of violence and drug dealing within our community," said Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton.
In addition to Bowers, the following individuals were charged Wednesday on state criminal violations:
Jordan Rent, 25, of Joliet, weapons violations, 8 counts;
Salvador De Los Angeles, 33, of Joliet, narcotics violations, 1 count;
David De Los Angeles, 29, of Joliet, narcotics violations, 1 count;
Miguel Antonino, 24, of Joliet, weapons violations, 3 counts;
Miguel Holloway-Valadez, 21, of Joliet, weapons violations, 1 count;
Kimberly Ledwell, 31, of Joliet, narcotics violations, 1 count;
Samuel Williams, 27, of Joliet, narcotics violations, 2 counts; weapons violations, 5 counts;
Mario Quintero, 36, of Joliet, narcotics violations, 3 counts; weapons violations, 1 count;
Richard Groth, 24, of Glendale Heights, narcotics violations, 2 counts;
Salvador Lopez, 26, of Joliet, weapons violations, 7 counts;
Gabriel Travis, 26, of Lockport, narcotics violation, 1 count;
Juan Martinez, 37, of Joliet, narcotics violations, 1 count;
Abiel Razo, 30, of Plainfield, narcotics violations, 1 count.
Additionally, police say six gang members were charged with federal weapons or narcotics offenses as a result of the sweep: Clemente Lopez, 31; Carlos Lopez, 30; Ralph Garcia, 56; Collin Coon, 32; and Gabriel Rosas, 39.