LOS ANGELES >> A former gang member from Baldwin Park received a 24-year prison sentence this week for his role in a federal drug trafficking conspiracy in which he admitted personally executing another gang member from Valinda who failed to pay “taxes,” or extortion payments, to the Mexican Mafia, authorities announced Thursday.
Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, a former 18th Street gang member with ties to Baldwin Park and El Sereno, pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Los Angeles to a charge of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine as part of a federal case targeting the Mexican Mafia-controlled Puente 13 street gang.
As part of his plea agreement, Garcia admitted to luring and fatally shooting David Dragna, 44, of Valinda at an apartment complex in the 14700 block of Prichard Street in La Puente on July 3, 2006, U.S. Department of Justice Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“Garcia admitted that in 2006 he and two members of Puente 13 lured another gang member to an apartment complex, where Garcia executed the victim with a bullet to the head,” Mrozek said.
Garcia carried out the killing on the orders of leaders of Puente 13, who accused Dragna of keeping extortion payments on drug proceeds, or “taxes,” intended for the Mexican Mafia, officials said. Dragna was a member of the Townsmen gang, which also operates in the Valinda Corridor in the central Can Gabriel Valley.
“This defendant killed another human being in cold blood to further his own criminal credentials and to further his drug trafficking career,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker said. “While he may have believed he could get away with murder, the hard work and dedication of law enforcement and prosecutors in my office ensured that he was held accountable. This case is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of gang violence on our community and the severe consequences that will result from participating in those criminal enterprises.”
At the time of Garcia’s plea deal, the prosecution and defense in the case agreed to recommend Garcia be sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald opted for the high end of the range, sentencing Garcia on Monday to 24 years behind bars, as well as eight years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison term.
The two Puente 13 gang members who joined Garcia in the killing have since pleaded guilty to the slaying, Mrozek said. Angel “Smiley” Torres is serving a 15-and-a-half-year prison term, and Steven “Flaco” Nunez is serving a 10-year sentence.
As part of the same investigation into Puente 13, which began in 2008, longtime gang leader Rafael “Cisco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 42, of La Puente and his brother, Cesar “Blanco” Munoz-Gonazalez of Rowland Heights, received life sentenced in federal prison in 2013 after being convicted at trial of violating the Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, weapons charges and other offenses.
The investigation into Puente 13 has resulted in four indictments and the convictions of about five-dozen gang members and associates, officials said.
SAN GABRIEL >> A man was stabbed, another was beaten and a car was struck by gunfire in a sudden spate of violence blamed on a gang rivalry late Wednesday, officials said.
Police first received reports of a fight involving rival gang members about 1:30 p.m. in the area of Del Mar and Clary avenues, San Gabriel police Lt. Fabian Valdez said.
The combatants had fled by the time officers arrived, the lieutenant said. But officials at nearby San Gabriel Valley Medical Center notified police about an hour-and-a-half later that a man in his 40s had arrived at the emergency room suffering from multiple stab wounds.
Though conscious, the stabbing victim would not cooperate with investigators, Valdez said.
Police were summoned to the same area about 8:20 p.m. after witnesses reported hearing gunshots at San Marino Avenue and Broadway, just around the corner from the scene of the earlier suspected gang fight, according to Valdez.
Again, officers found no suspects or victims at the scene.
A woman reported to police on Thursday morning that her husband had been beaten up by several other men, and her car had been struck by gunfire in incident at San Marino Avenue and Broadway, he said. The woman’s husband suffered cuts and bruises but no serious injuries.
All three victims were in their 40s, officials said.
Investigators believed the violence stemmed from a dispute between two groups of rival gang members.
The stabbing victim is suspected to be affiliated with a local street gang, Valdez said. The victims of the beating and shooting were believed to have ties to a South Los Angeles gang, and the second incident appeared to have been carried out in retaliation for the stabbing hours earlier.
Police are working to assess the situation and determine what resources and tactics may be helpful in preventing further gang violence, Valdez said. “
“The San Gabriel Police Department is currently developing a plan to address this matter,” he said.
Police asked the public to come forward with any relevant information.
Any with information can reach San Gabriel police at 626-308-3838. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LOS ANGELES >> Three gang members, including a “shot caller” who directed the gang on behalf of the Mexican Mafia, each received sentences of more than decade in prison stemming from a federal investigation targeting the El Monte Flores gang, authorities announced Friday.
Mexican Mafia shot caller James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 53, and EMF gang member Kenneth Cofer, 37, were sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison each, while co-defendant and fellow EMF member John Rivera, 54, was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months behind bars, U.S. Department of Justice Spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“We now have secured lengthy prison terms for key members of one of the oldest street gangs in Los Angeles County after using the federal racketeering statute to dismantle the organization’s leadership structure,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker.
But the fight against gangs continues.
“Even with significant gains made by law enforcement, street gangs remain one of the most dangerous criminal elements in the region and a significant contributor to violent crime,” Decker said. “We are committed, however, to restoring order in neighborhoods affected by the violence and drug trafficking perpetrated by street gangs like the El Monte Flores gang.”
Gutierrez and Cofer pleaded guilty in April to violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, conspiracy to distribute drugs and conspiracy to launder money in connection with a 61-count indictment targeting 41 EMF members first unsealed in 2014.
Gutierrez served as a “shot caller,” directing activities of EMF at the behest of the Mexican Mafia.
Gutierrez acknowledged in his plea that he regularly extorted “taxes” from drug dealers operating in EMF’s claimed territory, and had authorized an attack on a rival gang member, Mrozek said. Prosecutors noted he has a lengthy criminal history, including a racketeering-related murder convictions that resulted in a 20-year prison sentence.
Gutierrez served a “pivotal role in the gang’s drug distribution, extortion, and violent activity,” according to the prosecution’ sentencing memorandum. Prosecutors described Gutierrez as the lead defendant in the case.
In addition the RICO and conspiracy charges, Cofer also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, Mrozek said.
Cofer admitted to managing and supervising the gang’s extortion and drug trafficking, including directing the use of violence on behalf of the gang, according to Mrozek. He admitted to authorizing the shooting of someone who had been involved in a dispute with a fellow gang member.
Rivera pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to violate the RICO Act and conspiracy distribute drugs.
Thirty-one of the 41 gang members names in the 2014 indictment have pleaded guilty in connection with the case, Mrozek said.
Gutierrez admitted to
Prosecutors claimed EMF was holding meeting and selling drugs from the Boys & Girls Club on Mountain View Road, which was closed a month after the indictment against the gang was unsealed.
In a related case, another EMF member, 30-year-old Christian “Bossy” Lafargo, was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in federal prison in May after admitting to charges including conspiracy, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, committing violent crime in aid of racketeering and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
LA PUENTE >> A meeting previously planned by sheriff’s officials are to discuss La Puente’s gang injunction later this month has been cancelled.
The meeting, which has been scheduled for Oct. 25 at the St. Louis of France Catholic Church, 13935 E. Temple Ave., will be rescheduled for sometime early next year, organizers said.
At the annual meetings, sheriff’s officials, prosecutors and crime analysts meet with the community to discuss and answer questions regardingLa Puente’s gang injunction.
In addition to La Puente, the injunction against the Puente 13 and Bassett Grande street gangs also covers portions of West Covina and nearby unincorporated county areas such as Valinda and Bassett.
LA PUENTE >> Deputies arrested a suspected gang member with a handgun following a pursuit through La Puente in a stolen car on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
A deputy patrolling in the area of Valley Boulevard and Ferrero Lane spotted a Toyota Camry which had been reported stolen in Baldwin Park earlier this month driving down the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said.
The driver refused to pull over, initiating a short chase along surface streets that ended when the driver abandoned the car and ran on nearby Wegman Drive, the lieutenant said.
Deputies nabbed the suspect as he fled through a residential neighborhood, he added. He was arrested without further struggle.
Retracing the suspect steps, deputies found a handgun, as well as a shirt and baseball cap the fleeing suspect had apparently discarded in an attempt to change his appearance, Cacheiro said.
The identity of the suspect, a man estimated to be in his early-30s, was not released Thursday as detectives continued their investigation into the man, he added. The suspect was believed to have gang ties.
PHOTO – courtesy
BALDWIN PARK >> An El Monte man already condemned to spend life behind bars received a new sentence of 86 years to life in state prison on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of a rival gang member on Christmas Eve in 2010, prosecutors said.
Johnny Mata, 35, who has also been convicted of a second, non-fatal gang shooting in Baldwin Park in 2012, spent more than a year as a fugitive after he was accidentally released from jail in 2013 while awaiting trial, then recaptured in Mexico in Mexico.
A jury Convicted Johnny Mata, 35, guilty last month of two felony counts of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the fatal shooting of 31-year-old David Deanda Jr., Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. Jurors also found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that the killing was gang-related.
Co-defendant Jesus Arroyo Lule, 35, pleaded “no contest” in 2014 to a felony count of voluntary manslaughter for Deanda’s slaying and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 17 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Pomona Branch.
Lule drove Mata to rival gang territory in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue in Baldwin Park. Baldwin Park in the predawn hours of Dec. 24, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Once there, Mata exited the car and walked up to a house where David Deanda Jr., 31 was standing in the driveway,” according to the statement. “Mata then fatally shot Deanda in the torso before fleeing the scene, the prosecutor added.
Mata exited the car and walked up to Deanda Jr. who was standing in the driveway of a residence, Barkhurst said. Mata then fatally shot Deanda in the torso before fleeing the scene.
A third defendant, then-27-year-old Christina Montenegro, was initially charged in connection with the 2012 shooting, but the charges were ultimately dropped.
Deanda, who worked as a welder, was survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and a stepdaughter, according to family.
Prior to being arrested
In April 2012, Mata shot at the home of another rival gang member in Baldwin Park, and was found guilty of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in a 2015 trial. He was sentenced to life, plus 25 years, in state prison for those crimes. But the jury deadlocked on the murder charge stemming from Deanda’s fatal shooting, leading to a second trial.
Following his initial arrest in May of 2012 in connection with the Baldwin Park slaying, Mata spent more than a year on the lam after he as accidentally released due to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department clerical error.
He was re-captured in April of 2014 in Mexico and returned to the U.S. to face justice.
Following Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Mata is now serving a total sentence of life in prison, plus 111 years to life in prison.
PHOTO: Johnny Mata of El Monte, (Courtesy)
SAN GABRIEL >> Coroner’s officials have identified a 38-year-old Rosemead man who was fatally shot in the back during a gang-related dispute in South San Gabriel last week.
John Daniel Pollerana died at a hospital about 45 minutes after Thursday’s 11:47 p.m. shooting in the 1600 block of Del Mar Avenue, in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials said.
He was among three men who became involved in an altercation with fourth other men in the parking lot of a motel, Lt. Jose Mendoza of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. The dispute was believed to be gang-related.
One of the four men pulled a handgun and shot the victim in the back, according to sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
One of the attackers drove away from the shooting scene in a white, four-door sedan, Mendoza said. The other three suspects fled the area on foot.
Deputies quickly found one suspect — later identified as 31-year-old Juan Luis Colin of Bell Gardens — on foot in the area and detained him, officials said.
Juan Luis Colin, 31, of Bell Gardens, was treated for cuts to his arms he suffered while fleeing from deputies through backyards before being booked on suspicion of murder, Mendoza said.
Investigators determined Pollerana was staying at the motel along with two friends, Mendoza said. The group had ties to a local street gang.
The four suspects, who are tied to an East Los Angeles street gang, had been staying in another room at the motel, he said.
The groups encountered one another in the parking lot and an argument ensued before “at least one” of the suspects pulled a handgun and opened fire.
Pollerana was mortally wounded. Another man who was with him suffered a grazing wound, it was later determined.
The three additional suspects remained at large Wednesday.
According to county booking records, Colin was scheduled to appear in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday for an arraignment hearing. He was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BASSETT >> Gunfire in a Bassett neighborhood left one man wounded and a car riddled with bullets late Saturday in the community’s second shooting in less than 24 hours, authorities said.
Details of the shooting remained unclear Sunday as detectives continued sorting through conflicting accounts of the incident, which unfolded about 11:20 p.m. in the area of Nelson and Milbury avenues in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Arthur Scott said.
Deputies were summoned to Kaiser Permanente’s Baldwin Park Medical Center after a man in his late-teens to early-20s showed up at the emergency room with gunshot wounds to his upper torso, the lieutenant said.
The victim, a documented Bassett Grande gang member, told deputies he was walking past a house party on Nelson Avenue when a group of others started arguing and gunshots rang out, Scott said.
Scott described the home where the party was taking place at a known gang hangout.
But a woman who identified herself as a resident disputed the assertion, saying that the home was not tied to gangs.
About the same time, deputies responded to another report of gunfire just around the corner, at Milbury Avenue and Flagstaff Street, Scott said.
Three young men from Baldwin Park told officials they were heading north on Milbury Avenue in a car when they were confronted by attackers in an Orange Honda, Scott said. The passenger then exited the Honda and opened fire on the victim’s car.
Bullets shattered the front and rear windshields, and one pierced a headrest inside the car, but none of the three occupants were injured, Scott said.
Investigators suspected the two incidents were related. The investigation was ongoing.
The gunfire took place less than 24 hours after a 1:45 a.m. shooting about a mile away, in the 900 block of Feather Avenue, Lt. David Indante said. A car was damaged, but injuries were reported.
— Story updated to include comment from resident disputing officials’ assertion that the home near where the Nelson Avenue shooting is tied to gang activity.
SAN GABRIEL >> A jury convicted a Rosemead gang member and former fugitive of murder and conspiracy Wednesday for the mistaken-identity slaying of a Gabrielino High School senior in 2005.
The Pasadena Superior Court jury deliberated for less than one day before finding Daniel Guerrero, 29, guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the April 27, 2005, shooting death of Ryan Dasalla, 17, of Rosemead, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said. The jury also found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegations that he personally used a gun in the killing, and that the murder was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Two accomplices, including Guerrero’s brother and a then-17-year-old girl, have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their roles in the fatal shooting. Daniel Guerrero, who was 23 at the time of the killing, was the alleged gunman.
Daniel Guerrero’s brother, then-18-year-old Gabriel Guerrero, and Sarah Toledo were arrested shortly after the slaying. But Daniel Guerrero fled to Mexico, where he was captured in 2013 before being returned to the U.S. to face justice.
He was ordered back to court June 14 for sentencing, court officials said.
The Guerrero brothers were out for revenge the day of the murder after their younger brother was beaten up the night before, according to prosecutors and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
Toledo pointed out Dasalla to the brothers, under the mistaken belief that he was a member of the tagging crew involved in the fight involving their brother, officials said.
The group then approached Dasalla about a block away from Gabrielino High School, along Gladys Avenue near Scott Avenue, according to witness testimony from Toledo’s trial. Gabriel Guerrero fought with Dasalla before Daniel Guerrero pulled out a “big gun.”
The gunman inadvertently shot and wounded his own brother before fatally shooting Dasalla, Risling said.
“Daniel accidentally shot his brother, Gabriel, while Gabriel was on the ground, holding (Dasalla)down,” Risling said. The extent of Gabriel Guerrero’s injuries were not clear.
Gabriel Guerrero has since been sentenced to 84 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him in 2010 of first-degree murder, and found true allegations the crime was for the benefit of a criminal street gang — Varrio Nueva Estrada — and involved a gun.
Toledo was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison in late 2011 after a jury convicted her of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, along with gang and gun enhancements.
PASADENA >> After more than two weeks of deliberations, a jury convicted to gang members Friday of murder and other charges for fatally shooting a community coach and sheriff’s employee with an errant bullet intended for a rival gang member on Christmas Day, 2012.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury found Bloods gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino and Jerron Donald Harris, 28, of Pasadena, guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Victor McClinton, 49, of Pasadena, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
The verdict followed a mistrial last year and came, “after 15 days of court deliberations.” Santiago said.
In addition to first-degree murder, the jury also found true the special circumstances that the killing was gang related, and that the shots were fired from a moving vehicle, Santiago said. The jury also found that Harris personally used a firearm in the crime, but did not find true the prosecution’s allegation that Bishop also fired a gun in the killing.
Both men were also found guilty of one count of attempted murder each, Santiago said. The jury convicted Harris of shooting at an occupied dwelling, but acquitted Bishop of the same charge.
Though the special circumstances in the murder made Bishop and Harris potentially eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors did not seek capital punishment in the case, Santiago said. They were expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when they return to court for sentencing July 15.
McClinton, a father of two who worked as a law enforcement technician for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and founded the Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League in Pasadena, was walking down the street in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue about a 11 a.m. with a Christmas gift in-hand when the shooting occurred, according to police and prosecutors.
Harris and Bishop spotted, then opened fire on, a rival gang member, officials said. The intended target was wounded. McClinton was struck by a stray bullet and succumbed to his wounds at a hospital a short time later.
PHOTOS: [TOP]: Victor J. McClinton. Portrait photographed at memorial on the steps of Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena on Dec. 27, 2012. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone/SVCITY) [BELOW]: Pamela Simmons, left, and Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez, center, hold hands with family and friends, during a Candlelight Memorial in Remembrance of Victor J. McClinton, on the steps of Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena, Thursday, December 27, 2012. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone/SVCITY)