- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - A purported leader of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in prison for drug trafficking, with a federal judge also factoring into her sentence that the defendant likely murdered a Chicago police officer and a woman in 2008.

Jason “J Rock” Austin, 32, of Chicago was convicted of narcotics charges in 2012, including for selling heroin dubbed “Blue Magic.” It alone accounted for $8,000 a day in sales for the trafficking enterprise, prosecutors said.

“Your drug trafficking activities were a scourge on your community,” U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow told Austin during sentencing.

While Austin was never convicted of murder in the deaths of the police officer, Robert Soto, and Kathryn Romberg, federal rules allowed the judge in Chicago to include the likelihood he killed the two in calculating a sentence.

Austin and 30 others affiliated with the Traveling Vice Lords were arrested in 2010 in an investigation focused on crack cocaine and heroin sales in a Chicago neighborhood around Kedzie and Ohio streets.

Soto and Romberg were shot as they sat in a parked car three blocks from Kedzie. In an extended sentencing hearing, prosecutors entered evidence that Austin shot the pair in a case of mistaken identity. Lefkow concluded it was “very likely” he did.

The U.S. attorney in Chicago, Zachary Fardon, said in a written statement he welcomed the court’s finding regarding the killings, adding he hoped the 35-year sentence “provides a modest measure of justice.”

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