A True Story From Rikers to Righteousness

Christian Claudio


I was on Facebook Saturday night when I ran across a video. As I watched the clip my heart was moved by what I heard. In the video was Christian Claudio and he was speaking, telling an audience about how Christ had changed his life. I left him a comment below the video clip, wrote in my cell number and asked for him to call me, as I wanted to interview him for an article on my blog. Within minutes my phone rang, and on the other end was Christian Claudio. As I spoke with him for almost an hour my heart was stirred within me, as he shared with me the wondrous, miraculous story of how God changed his life…Below is that story.  

  Christian Claudio was of the most powerful Latin Kings in New York City. He controlled over 14,000 prisoners as “Supreme Crown,” of the Almighty Latin King Nation on Rikers Island.  He was a drug-lord criminal, he had been the target of numerous homicide investigations and had been convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the Second Degree. He had operated a major drug network that expanded into all of New York City, upstate New York, and throughout the U.S.  He was dangerous, he was powerful, and he knew it.  

 Claudio was born in the Carver Projects in Spanish Harlem, a tough neighborhood known for its poverty and drug-abuse. He began experimenting with witch-craft and cult religions. Trying to fit in to his surroundings, he soon was a cocaine addict. As his drug use increased he started dealing drugs to fund his addiction. But while selling drugs he developed an addiction stronger than the drug itself, an addiction for making illegal money. That money soon replaced his drug addiction, and became his God. He became one of New York’s largest drug dealers by applying a simple principle, “You don’t get high on your own supply”. Claudio said “I was making more money than Wall Street executives were making!” Gaining power and respect on the streets of New York, and with loads of cash, confident, he stepped up his operations and became involved with organized crime.  His organization, power, and criminal enterprise grew. He learned how  police surveillance operated, and avoided being arrested by moving around, covering his tracks and assuming different names. He thought he knew how to stay a step ahead. Satan had a grip on him, lying to him about his life and his future. But what Christian did not know at the time was that God had a plan for his life instead,  

  But like all drug dealers do, Christian made a mistake. He unknowingly began selling narcotics to undercover DEA agents. After a long and intensive investigation, the DEA and the NYPD finally had enough evidence to arrest him. In 1989, he was arrested by NYPD Det. Sgt. Jimmy Peterson. He was arrested as a drug lord, the head of drug syndication. Awaiting trial, Claudio was incarcerated at Rikers Island, the largest violent criminal institution in America.   

 It was at Rikers Island that he became involved with the Almighty Latin King Nation, a violent gang that originated in the streets of Chicago in the 1940s. By 1989 the Latin Kings had evolved into a large crime syndicate, and began spreading across the nation. It prided itself on being infamous for drugs, racketeering, murder, and other violent crimes. Luis Felipe (a.k.a. “King Blood”) firmly established the gang’s presence in New York City.  Today, the Almighty Latin King Nation is one of the most well-organized and violent gangs in the United States.  In 1989, as Claudio began learning about them, the Latin Kings were just beginning to creep into New York City’s prison system.  

 Claudio was being charged with a class 1-A felony, the most serious charge a criminal can face in New York State. His charges were eventually reduced and Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. gave him only two to four years in a prison upstate.  He celebrated his light sentence, but other crimes he had committed, and was yet to be convicted for would soon come to light. He was shipped to upstate New York to serve his time.  

 While in prison, Claudio became deeply involved in the Latin King culture.  He immediately got involved in the gang hierarchy. Because of the large scope of his criminal enterprise, the task force continued investigating him, even though he was in prison. In 1991 he was returned to Rikers Island to face new charges, brought to light by the investigation. There he became acquainted with “King Blood” himself.  King Blood authorized Claudio to establish the Latin Kings on Rikers Island.   

 Using his experience, leadership and networking abilities, Claudio became the “Supreme Crown” over the entire prison system. The Latin Kings teach Latino pride and all members are encouraged to live in accordance with the principles of KINGISM, a moral driven awareness of social oppression and the desire to uplift their people to their rightful place: “amongst the thrones of Kings and Queens”.  As Supreme Crown he oversaw 14,000 prisoners on Rikers Island.  He translated the Latin King Indoctrination program into Spanish and began distributing the lessons throughout the jails. As his power and influence grew, he began developing relationships with correction officers and prison officials, exploiting them for his own profit and gain.  Even his violent behavior worked to his advantage, for every time he misbehaved, he was reassigned to another section of the prison:  “I was always bouncing around.  I never lasted in a housing unit more than a month, sometimes a day, sometimes just a couple of hours…just because I was really stressed out, really violent.”  This allowed him to exert his authority as “Supreme Crown” over almost every section of the prison, firmly securing Latin King Dominance.  However, his violence lifestyle soon got the best of him.  

 In 1991, he assaulted another prisoner with a secretly obtained weapon, nearly killing him.  As a result of his actions, he was thrown into solitary confinement for a year. His went on trial for “Attempted Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the Second Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree.”  He was also being investigated for about twenty other homicides.  Claudio began contemplating suicide: “I felt alone, by myself.  I’d always prided myself on my strength, my contacts, but isolated into solitary confinement, I couldn’t do anything.  I couldn’t make anything happen, and I wasn’t in control. I was just so desperate, and I just wanted to escape everything.  I just wanted to end it .But what he didn’t know God still had a plan for his life.  

 While he was awaiting trial, his co-defendant accepted Jesus as his personal Savior. Claudio thought he had completely “lost it.”  Claudio didn’t know much about Jesus. He thought Christians were a lot of tie-wearing, white-shirted, rich people, who walked around with huge Bibles and said, “God bless you!  Jesus loves you!”  So when his co-defendant became a Christian, Claudio thought he was nuts. None of it made any sense to him.   

 While in solitary confinement, he found a small Gideon’s New Testament that was left in the corner of a locker in his cell. He began to read in Matthew, and began reading that someone begat someone, and somebody else begat somebody else. It made no sense at all to him. But he continued to read. And as he read, he said” I began to read about hope, love and faith. God began to speak to his heart and the truth of the scripture and the Gospel started make sense to him, as God began speaking to his heart.  “I started questioning a lot of things in my life, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was a sinner, and here I was in prison doing things my way – and it was my way that got me there in the first place!”  

 On July 20, 1992, at 11:25 in the evening, in his own words, Christian says” I surrendered”. He sat alone inside a 6×9 prison cell and surrendered his life to Christ, and the name Christian that his mother had prophetically given him at birth now became who he was. Claudio said, “I surrendered, and Jesus transformed my life.  He changed my heart . . . He knew if he had to spend the rest of his life in prison, he would live with more freedom as a Christian than most people will ever experience.  In his words, “It was incredible, I had Christ”.  

 Shortly after his conversion, Christian was sentenced to 37 more years in prison for his other crimes. Facing a lifetime in prison, he still believed in his heart that God had a plan for his life.  He was certain that the Latin Kings would kill him when they heard of his conversion.  

 In spite of facing possible death, he began talking to gang members, sharing his testimony, and declaring the love of Jesus in his life. He told everyone that would listen about the Lord. Everyone saw the miraculous transformation taking place in his life. Many wanted to know more.  Correction officers approached him asking for prayer; prisoners abandoned their gangs, seeking the peace and happiness they saw in Christian.  

 Claudio’s entire family accepted the Lord through his testimony. When Sergeant Peterson, the man who arrested Claudio in 1989, heard that Claudio had converted to Christianity, he could not believe it.  “I’m a cop,” he said, “and cops pretty much are skeptical about everything. So he decided to go and visit Claudio himself. When he saw with his own eyes what God had done, he was amazed.  God had changed his life and who he was.  

 Claudio spent the next few years in prison studying God’s Word and witnessing to fellow inmates.  Facing almost 40 years in prison, he still trusted God that he would be released from prison. But if he had to spend the rest of his life in prison, he would accept whatever God ordained.  In 2002, he prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Lord, if you’re not going get me out of here, please just get me through. But amazingly five years later, after serving only fifteen years of his sentence, God worked a miracle and Claudio was released on parole.  

 Retired Det. Sgt. Jimmy Peterson says of Christian, He is the radical exception.  He called upon the grace of God to deliver him from his sins, and God delivered.  “Everybody deserves a second chance,” comments Peterson, “Chris has a second chance to do something positive with his life, and I think he’s taking advantage of that.”  

 In 2007, Claudio was baptized and shared his testimony with the church.  Those in attendance we amazed to see God’s grace unfold in such an amazing way in a person’s life.   

 With so much baggage in his past, one might wonder how Claudio could ever lift himself up and press onward.   Claudio has a great testimony . . . a unique brother in the Lord.”  Says Detective Peterson “He’s really truly passionate about what he says and wants to do . . . and when you’re passionate about something, nothing can stop you.”  

 Upon his release, Christian Claudio committed himself to furthering God’s Kingdom.  Today, he is the director of the Long Island American Chaplain’s Association, dedicated to reaching people with the gospel of Christ.  He has a heart for gangs and for the kids swallowed up by them every day. “Says Claudio, “if we can save one, then it’s a blessing.”  He currently hosts anti-gang workshops, crisis intervention workshops, hospital as well as community outreaches, and a thriving prison ministry.  

  He refuses, however to take any honor for what he is doing – “No one can get the glory for me being here but God.”  

 As Claudio now lives his life in Grace, he knows that God has a plan for his life.  

 Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  

With this truth of God’s Word working and living inside of him, Christian can confidently approach life, facing both his past and future, knowing that God had a plan for him through it all.  

 I urge you to watch a 9 minute video of Christian’s testimony he recently gave in front of 4000 attendees, from over 100 counties. He spoke at the Gideon’s Int. Convention in Columbus, Ohio at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxGXwKfKyoQ Just copy and paste the link.  

 If you would like to hear this amazing story of God’s grace, a life transforming testimony, you can contact Christian at (646) 842-0701 or at chrisclaudio@optonline.net.  He is available to speak for your organization or church. Your life and heart will be touched and you will truly be blessed. Feel free to invite him to be your friend on Facebook, he will be a blessing to your life.   

 My sources for information in this article were Christian Claudio, and Bridget Degnan.

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36 replies

  1. Enter your comments here…

  2. JESUS is truly the way maker and the life changer Thank you, Lord for saving Christians soul and using him for your glory!!

    • Thank you for the encouragement! Blessings…

      • WOW, GOD BLESS YOU My Brother. What A Story. It brought tears to my eyes and I could feel the anointing of The Holy Spirit as I read your story. GOD Has A Great Plan and Destiny For Your LIFE. I know as I Know. I am going to paste your story and send it to a friend of mine in federal prison right now. I Will start To Pray For You, that The LORD Will Open Many Doors so you can share this testimony with the world. HALLELUJAH!!!

      • Hi Alexander, The story is not about me but about Christaian Claudio, and the Lord is opening many doors in His life. Thank you for your kind words.

  3. I thank God for your deliverance. God is good and faithful. Diliverance is defined as a rescue from bondage or danger. Jesus Christ offers deliverance from mankinds greatest peril…sin,death,evil and judment (Gal.1:4 Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. 5 All glory to God forever and ever! Amen).

  4. I was truly blessed to read the blogs on this website The old Song Amazing Grace How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now am found was blind but now I see came to my mind in reading the story of Christian Claudio I thank God for His amazing grace I am also on face book I am on the page Calling all Chriatians. On my face book profile I did not enjoy all the farmville stuff & join this group & that one, but God spoke to my heart & brought to my mind that Face book is one great way of sharing Jesus Christ I asked the Lord to show me how that I could share Him with all my face book friends and family The Lord simply spoke to me that every morning when I get on Face book just start giving the scriptures, the book, the verse, the chapter & let him handle the rest I have been doing this for about 4 months & I have abundantly been blessed I would love to be a face book friend with Bro Darrell & Bro Claudio yours in Christ Jesus Nedia

    • Hi sis! God bless you! When I am alone and hear that song I always break down and cry. I am humbled by the fact that God chose to save me from before the foundation of the world!

  5. Thank you Claudio for your amazing story of Gods Grace…I am always amazed at what God can do to change a man’s life…your story is one of the greatest

    • Christian is a good man… He always was. Sometimes people take the wrong path and then they find God to bring them back home ON THE RIGHT PATH…. Everyone deserves a second chance and I am Blessed to Know Christian…

  6. Claudio’s “story” is so impacting even to someone who may not have lived such extreme circumstances….sin is sin….and God is So Merciful to all of us that call upon Him and truly repent for whatever offense it may be…..Thank you for sharing this testimony of God’s Amazing Grace in Claudio’s life, showing no sin is beyond God’s Love for us…..May he continue to be blessed in all he does and pursues….I do also want to add that I have and know of some amazing Spanish praise & worship songs & artists that I’d be glad to share if that should interest him to use in his ministry, and for himself…..my email: trulee4christ@gmail.com….Blessings to all!

  7. Your story has made me feel alot better! Im currently dating someone that served time in Riker’s and joined the Latin Kings. He has expressed his reasons and such, but I have always had second thoughts. However, he has found god and I believe his experience has made him the person he is today. Your story made me realize other’s can be in the same situation and not be animals. Thank you very much! Send me an email if you would like.

  8. Christian surely there is rejoicing in the presence of the angle of God over one sinner who repents. Two people who owed their master money were pardoned what they owed him and it turned out the one who owed a large amount of money ended been more benefting much for he owed much. This is to say God had a greater plan for you. Thanks for sharing your testimony its realy encouraging. I ll use this script to people i know in our prisons or any other sinner it could be prositute or any other type of crime. GOD BLESS YOU.

  9. Wonderful Testimony….Jesus…there is no antidote to the heart like Him. Thank you for bringing this amazing story of redemption and grace to us.

  10. Christian,

    Although we had seen each other when we were younger and never met after all this time, I am glad to have met you know. I am sooo glad that you found God and Jesus. That is the only way and right way. You cant go wrong with that. God is good all the time, all the time God is good. God bless you pa. Besos y abrazos para ti. I am proud of you.


  11. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, iwspo.net

  12. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian,Earn Free Vouchers / Cash

  13. WOW! JUST AWESOME…..INCREDIBLY AWESOME AND JUST LIKE PAPA! He is so incredibly faithful! Thank you for blogging this. I’m going to watch the video now.

  14. Bro Claudio I always cry and feel the anointing of God when I read your blog It is people like you who don’t give up and becomes a warrior for God that impresses the world. Many times in my walk of life I have just wanted to throw my hands up and say Lord I’m through and I was just about to that point last night and then this morning I read your blog and with the help of God and this encouraging story I know without a shadow of a doubt that I must strive harder than I ever have in my walk for the Lord to as the song says Keep Walking in The light of the Lord. Your story is so amazing , you are a great person May God richly bless you in all your endeavors . Yours in Christ Jesus Nedia

  15. Bro; Claudio, I was just reminded of this chorus and wanted to share What a mighty God we serve, What a mighty God we serve, Angels bow before Him, heaven and earth adore Him What a mighty God we serve I add this to it. It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord of Host. It’s not by might nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord. be blessed

  16. Bro. Christian It seems like I never tire of reading your story. I still say it is amazing grace. Amazing that God reached down and touched your heart and every time I read your story, God reaches down and touches my heart. You are a great warrior for God. I have a special prayer request: I have a great niece, who is on face book, Her name is Destany Walker, Please join with me in your prayers that God will touch her. She says she doesn’t believe in God because, He has never done anything for her. She has some hard problems, but I know nothing is impossible for Our God. Be encouraged in the Lord and go in the power of his might. You are a blessing to me. My love to you in Christ Jesus Nedia Kay

  17. Bro Christian I Just had to read your story again. I feel the touch from the Master’s hand every time I read it. Even though we have never met, I feel that I have met you some time, some where. May be that we will meet some day. Have you ever given your testimony to churches or have you ever considered writing your own story.? [ I was just thinking . ] I hope you are being blessed from day to day and that you are being strengthened in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. O, yes You said in your story that you always considered Christians White shirt and tie. How do you feel about Christians, since you found Jesus ? Just wondering . I praise God for you and I love you. Nedia

  18. This song came to my mind in reading your story once more. Change my heart O, Lord, Make it ever true. Change my heart O, Lord, Make it more like you. You are the Potter, I am the clay, Mold me and make me this is what I pray. Change my heart O Lord make it ever true. Change my heart O Lord, make it more like you. Bro. Christian, you are one amazing warrior in the Army of the Lord. I like the comment where someone said you are a great man of God. I do believe that. You have to be great in order to live the life you did live and then turn your whole life over to the Lord Jesus Christ. One other thing. I understand your Birthday is tomorrow the 26th. If I may sing this early. Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, Dearest Christian, Happy Birthday to you. Know this one thing. I love you Nedia

  19. Hey Bro. Christian, Hope you are well and blessed today and always. Remember God is faithful and we can stand upon His promises, that He will give us what-so-ever we ask, if we ask Him believing then we shall receive it. We are just Blessed even to be Heirs of God and Joint-Heirs with Jesus Christ our King. I would like for us to be friends on E-mail, but if you don’t want to be that is okay. I just like to hear from you to see how you are doing. Have a blessed day. Go with God and He will go with you. I read your story once more and I say WOW, it always touches me to read it and I love you. N

  20. Brother Christian, as I read your story once more I perceive that amazing grace. God is so good to us and isn’t awesome to know, that when everything around us seems lost, we still have that Blessed hope in Christ that He will never leave us, but will be right beside us no matter what we might experiencing. Blessings to you once more and may God richly smile upon you is my most humble prayer. You are in my prayers always Nedia

  21. Bro. Christian [Chorus] Thank you, thank you Lord, for saving me. Thank you, Thank you Lord for saving me, I once was lost, but now I’m found, now my soul is heavenward bond . Thank you, Thank you Lord for saving me. You are in my prayers. Be blessed

  22. Bro. Christian [Chorus] Thank you, thank you Lord, for saving me. Thank you, Thank you Lord for saving me, I once was lost, but now I’m found, now my soul is heavenward bond . Thank you, Thank you Lord for saving me. You are in my prayers. Be blessed Bro Christian I still use my old e-mail address I thought it had changed when we changed servers but my daughter informed me that I still get my e-mail from aol.com

  23. Hello Bro. Christian once more just wanted to tell you that I finally was able to watch your video on youtube as usual you are a unique person in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so truly blessed to be able to get to know you via face book. You are an amazing person and I pray that God will richly bless you in your endeavors. There was one video that I didn’t get to see and that was the one of you singing . My status meter was running low and I had to get off you tube until it reloads itself. I am looking forward to hearing you sing and by the way I love the way you talk. Is that New York talk ? I know I talk slow and like a Redneck. Anyway I pray that you have a beautiful evening and don’t forget if you ever want to chat , I am always around. I hope I am not being a pester pot to you. I enjoy hearing from you and knowing how you are doing. God Bless You. N

  24. Hola Claudio I just wanna thank you for your tremendous testimony praise god I pray I can reach your level I know god has a plan for me

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