- Associated Press - Monday, December 9, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A purported member of the Almighty Latin Kings gang was held without bail Monday after pleading not guilty to murder in the stabbing death of a man at a Rhode Island hookah lounge.

Joel Francisco faces a first-degree murder charge in the death Oct. 2 of Troy Pine, 46, at the Nara Lounge in Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood.

The Providence Journal reports that Francisco, 41, was referred to the public defender’s office. Assistant Attorney General Daniel Carr Guglielmo asked that he be ruled a habitual offender if convicted.

Francisco stabbed Pine following a confrontation, prosecutors said.

He fled the state and was arrested by federal marshals on Oct. 19 in New Braunfels, Texas, as he allegedly tried to make it to Mexico.

Francisco was one of 62 people federal prosecutors in Boston charged last week in an operation targeting the Latin Kings gang.

He was convicted of trafficking crack cocaine and sentenced to life in prison in 2005.

Francisco, however, was a beneficiary of the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform law signed by President Donald Trump in December that retroactively extended sentencing reductions for crack cocaine offenses.

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