FBI arrest of Most Wanted Fugitive Saenz detailed

LA Weekly points out that the arrest of Jose Luis Saenz was facilitated by a Mexican deportation of the mafia hit-man, not an extradition. The mag profiled Saenz in its 2010 cover piece titled: “East Los Angeles Hit Man Trained by Mexican Cartels“. He was wanted for a couple of street corner killings, the rape murder of his pregnant girlfriend and the slaying of a Whittier man in connection with a $600,000 drug debt.

This from LA Weekly:

For years, nobody has had a death wish strong enough to rat out Smiley for these killings, save for young Juan Pena. Dying several years ago of childhood leukemia, he fingered his blood brother Saenz for the executions on North Clarence Street.

But Smiley, with his intense black eyes and his quick, deviant mind, vanished from the local cops’ radar for 10 years — to Mexico for some of that time, the FBI says, where he morphed from East L.A. tagger and Cuatro Flats gang member to a connected, Mexican-cartel drug “soldier” — simply put, a high-level executioner, and then trafficker, operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Here’s video of the Whittier slaying — warning it is graphic:

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Corruption case wiretap details sex, drugs and other scams in tiny town of Cudahy

I like to call the region surrounding the 710 Freeway “The Corruption Corridor.”

Towns in the region include Montebello, Bell, Southgate, Mayhwood, Huntington Park, Bell Gardens and Vernon.
Then there’s tiny Cudahy. Never been there? Well that’s probably because you weren’t looking for  prostitutes, marijuana or trying to scam customer of your tow company.
The FBI on Friday announced a corruption probe into three member of the Cudahy City Council. All were accused of taking bribes in exchange for approving the establishment of a Medical marijuana dispensary. A lot of the dirt is in a affidavit filed in support of the case. Take a look.  Here’s a link. It’s great reading and a fascinating window into public corruption in Los Angeles County:
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Justice and FBI to monitor California elections

From a Justice Department Press release:

As part of the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming general elections, Assistant United States Attorney Dennis Mitchell will again serve as the District Election Officer during the November 2 general election, United States Attorney Andr Birotte Jr. announced Friday.

Since 2006, AUSA Mitchell has served as District Election Officer to handle citizen complaints concerning potential violations of the federal Voting Rights Act.

As District Election Officer during next week’s balloting, AUSA Mitchell will ensure that complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses made to federal authorities will be properly handled and, if appropriate, thoroughly investigated.

AUSA Mitchell will serve as District Election Officer for the Central District of California, which includes the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

“Every allegation of any voting rights abuse is an extremely serious matter,” said United States Attorney Andr Birotte Jr. “Every citizen is entitled to vote without interference or discrimination. Citizens should not hesitate to report possible violations of voting rights laws.”

Have a complaint? Register it at: 213- 894-2484 to report possible election fraud and voting rights abuses.

The FBI will also make special agents available to hear complaints. Their number is 310-477-6565.

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FBI seeks 20 Questions Bandits

Press release from Laura Eimiller at the FBI:


FBI Agents and detectives with multiple law enforcement agencies in three counties are seeking the public’s assistance in learning the identity of the “20 Questions Bandits,” a group of at least four unidentified men believed to be responsible for eleven takeover bank robberies in Ventura, Orange and Los Angeles Counties.

U.S. Bank, East West Bank, Cathay Bank and several Bank of America locations were targeted by the bandits. Bank of America is offering a reward of up to $100,000* in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for these robberies.

During the various robberies, the bandits were extremely violent and, in some cases, displayed weapons. Witnesses have described four black males, in some cases armed with guns, who have forced bank employees and customers inside the bank to comply with their demands for cash and to follow their instructions.

In some cases, the bandits also robbed victims of personal belongings. During the initial robberies linked to this group, the suspects asked several questions while inside the bank, according towitnesses and were, therefore, nicknamed the “20 Questions Bandits.”

The most recent robbery attributed to the “20 Questions Bandits” occurred on April 2, 2010 at a Bank of America in the city of Newport Beach.

The group is also believed responsible for robberies in El Monte and Rowland Heights, Eimiller said.

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He’s baaaack — Most Wanted fugitive returned to US from Mexico

Emigdio Preciado,  whose picture has been on billboards, the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List and the television program America’s Most Wanted, returned to the US Tuesday, according the the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

Here’s a portion of Ruby Gonzales’ story on the gang member’s return:

A Southside Whittier gang member on the run for nine years is back in Los Angeles county to face trial for shooting at two deputies during a Sept. 5, 2000 traffic stop.

Norwalk Station Deputy Michael Schaap was shot in the forehead while Deputy David Timberlake wasn’t injured during the shooting. Schaap underwent rehabilitation and had to learn how to walk and talk again.

The FBI brought back Emigdio Preciado Jr. on Tuesday from Mexico, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker in a written statement.

He said Preciado is scheduled to appear Thursday in Whittier Superior Court.

According to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller, Preciado was extradited to the U.S. and handed over to FBI agents at the border in Brownsville, Texas on Tuesday morning. The 39-year-old was flown to Los Angeles International Airport under FBI escort in the afternoon where he was handed over to sheriff’s detectives.

“The Sheriff’s Department and the people of Los Angeles County express their gratitude to the FBI and Mexican law enforcement authorities for their tireless efforts to return Preciado to Los Angeles County,” Parker said.

The shooting happened on Gunn Avenue, north of Mulberry Drive in the county area of Whittier. Schaap and Timberlake tried to pull over a 1979 Chevrolet van for a burned-out headlight when Preciado allegedly fired at the two with an AK-47 assault rifle.

Detectives said Preciado was wanted for violating parole and didn’t want to return to prison.

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FBI names new head of Los Angeles Field Office

This from FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller:

FBI Director, Robert Mueller, has named two veteran agents, Daphne Hearn and Bill Lewis, to serve in the position of Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in the Los Angeles Field Office. Additional information about SAC Lewis and Hearn can be found in the attachments; their photos are also attached.

Background on Los Angeles FBI hierarchy:

The Los Angeles Field Office is headed up by an Assistant Director in Charge, who is chiefly responsible for all operations in the seven counties that comprise the Central District of California. (Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, SLO, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and Riverside).

The Assistant Director in Los Angeles oversees four individuals who carry the title, “Special Agent in Charge,” who are responsible for the following four branches, in no particular order of importance here, covering all FBI program areas:

  • Criminal Division
  • Counterterrorism Division
  • Counterintelligence & Cyber Division
  • Intelligence Division

SAC Lewis and SAC Hearn will serve as SAC of the Criminal Division and the Intelligence Division, respectively.

Director Mueller also recently appointed Steven Martinez as Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. Mr. Martinez, who most recently was in charge of the FBI in Las Vegas, will replace Salvador Hernandez, who recently retired. Mr. Martinez will report to Los Angeles later this month and I will issue a press release locally at that time to announce his formal arrival.

SAC Hearn and SAC Lewis are expected to arrive Los Angeles within the next several weeks.

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Anna Nicole’s FBI files

The FBI Friday released several documents from its files on actress/model Anna Nicole Smith.

Among the files, an FBI investigation into whether or not Anna Nicole plotted a murder.
From the site:
The third matter regarding Ms. Smith that the FBI investigated was an allegation that she contemplated the murder of E. Pierce Marshall, the son of her deceased husband. There are three sections to this release: 166C-LA-223601; 166C-LA-223601, 1A, Volume 1; and 166C-LA-223601, 1A, Volume 2. This release consists of one section of investigative case file and two volumes of 1A envelopes. 1A envelopes contain case materials retained as evidence (in this instance, materials like interview notes), documents obtained from other police agencies, and other items gathered in the course of the investigation. All of these files are redacted because of laws protecting personal privacy.
Here’s the link.
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FBI opens investigation into Burbank PD

This from the Burbank Leader:

CITY HALL — Four days after the city released a statement calling the latest lawsuit filed against its Police Department “baseless and disingenuous,” Mayor Gary Bric on Tuesday said the FBI was investigating the allegations.

He also announced that the Burbank Police Department was being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which was to turn over its findings to the county district attorney’s office, paving the way for the city to bring in its own outside attorney to review the allegations.

Seven current and former members of the Burbank Police Department have filed lawsuits since May, claiming everything from unfair demotion and retaliation, to sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

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Homeboy Alex Sanchez gets no bail, but it’s ain’t over yet

From Celeste Fremon at Witness LA:

Here’s what she writes:

Alex Sanchez had a second bail hearing on Wednesday afternoon. He did not get bail. Nor was he denied it.

Alex, if you’ll remember, is the former MS-13 gang member turned highly honored gang intervention leader and head of the well-regarded nonprofit, Homies Unidos. A month ago, Sanchez was named in a federal racketeering indictment and accused of plotting the murder of a rival gang member. The case alleges Sanchez was leading a double life: while a good guy by day, by night he was the premier shot caller–AKA leader–of a particularly violent clique of MS-13.

At the last bail hearing held on June 30, 110 people wrote letters of support–including city leaders and a wide array of clergy. Friends and colleagues put up $1.2 million in surities against any bail. To sweeten the deal, Tom Hayden put up his house toward the hoped for bond. Sanchez was denied bail anyway.

Sanchez’s attorney appealed the bail decision, and Wednesday’s hearing was the result. But rather than settle the matter, U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real decided to continue the bail issue until August 17, nearly a month from now.

On the surface this might sound like just another case of justice delayed.
But, there is a lot more to this story.

In case you are interested, here’s a copy of the Alex Sanchez indictment.
And, a piece written by Tom Hayden for The Nation.

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