JAN 27 (LOS ANGELES) - Two members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang were found guilty on January 27, 2014, on federal racketeering charges for overseeing the conduct of the main street gang in Ontario, California, a criminal enterprise that was responsible for numerous violent crimes and widespread drug trafficking.
The convictions of the two leaders of the Black Angels gang stem from an indictment that charged violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. In addition to the RICO charges, the indictment alleges violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracies to distribute heroin and methamphetamine, and firearms violations.
Following a nine-day trial, a federal jury convicted the lead defendant in the racketeering case – Armando "Mando" Barajas, a 50-year-old Mexican Mafia member who resides in Pomona. Barajas controlled the gang's activities, including the narcotics distribution activities in the gang's territory.
Another Mexican Mafia member – Juan "Nito" Gil, 43, who was serving a 10-year prison term when he was indicted in 2010 – was also found guilty today by a jury that determined he exercised control of gang activities by communicating directions through others linked to the gang.
"Gang violence takes a heavy toll on too many of our neighborhoods," said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. "Today's verdicts demonstrate once again that the gang leaders and shot-callers responsible for that violence will be held accountable for their criminal conduct. The United States Attorney's Office will continue to work with our federal and local partners to protect the residents Southern California and make our communities safe."
The Black Angels is a multi-generational Latino street gang that claimed a portion of city of Ontario as its turf. The Black Angels' main criminal activity is the distribution of narcotics, specifically methamphetamine and heroin. Leaders of the gang extorted drug dealers, who, in exchange for paying "taxes" or "rent," were allowed to operate in gang-controlled territory. The gang's drug trafficking activities extended to smuggling narcotics into prisons for use by incarcerated Mexican Mafia and Black Angels members.
Ontario Police Department's Chief Eric Hopley said he was "extremely pleased" when informed of today's guilty verdicts. "This was a huge case for us that involved scores of investigators and hundreds of man hours. The guilty verdicts are good news for both law enforcement and the citizens of Ontario. This investigation is another example of the success that can be accomplished when federal and local law enforcement agencies work together to reach a common goal."
This case is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Ontario Police Department. The Inland Empire-based task force operates within the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, and includes agents and officers from DEA, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department, the Riverside Sheriff's Department, and the Riverside Police Department.