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March 12, 2013

Brothers Who Led Mexican Mafia-Backed Puente-13 Street Gang Sentenced to Life in Prison as Result of Federal Racketeering Case

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:05 am

LOS ANGELES – A member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang and longtime leader of the Puente-13 criminal street gang was sentenced today to life in federal prison after being convicted last year on federal racketeering charges that included a brutal stabbing designed to deter victims from cooperating with law enforcement and plotting to murder members of a rival gang.
       
The Mexican Mafia carnal, Rafael “Cisco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 42, of La Puente, who long controlled Puente-13 as part of his Mexican Mafia membership, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge A. Howard Matz.
       
The brother of the Mexican Mafia member, Cesar “Blanco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 38, of Rowland Heights, was sentenced late yesterday afternoon to life in prison by Judge Matz.
       
There is no parole in the federal prison system.
       
The Gonzalez brothers were convicted in December by a federal jury that found them guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, illegally possessing firearms and other offenses. The evidence presented at the trial proved, among other criminal offenses, that Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez ordered an attack on a witness who was cooperating with federal investigators in this case – a man who was attacked at the federal jail in downtown Los Angeles, where he was stabbed 22 times and beat over the head, suffering a punctured lung and fractured skull.

                                                                                                        
       
The evidence introduced at trial last year showed that members of Puente-13 were involved in the manufacture and distribution of a substantial amount of narcotics, particularly methamphetamine, and that leaders of the gang extorted drug dealers by collecting “taxes,” the payment of which allows drug dealers to operate in gang-controlled territory.  Among other things, the testimony during the six-week trial showed that, while Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez was in custody until 2007, his brother Cesar trafficked large amounts of methamphetamine with other gang members, spoke on his brother’s behalf at gang meetings, directed other members of Puente-13 to collect “tax” payments from area drug dealers on Rafael’s behalf, and warded off rival drug traffickers by announcing that certain Puente-13 drug stash houses were untouchable because they were “protected by Cisco.” The evidence also showed that the Gonzalez brothers’ racketeering activities brought them substantial amounts of cash, custom boats and luxury cars.

In early 2008, Puente-13 gang members and associates were arrested as part of a federal investigation into the drug trafficking activities of the gang (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/pr2008/026.html).
The racketeering indictment that led to the life prison sentences for the Gonzalez brothers was filed on June 2, 2010 (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/pr2010/091.html).
       
Two other leaders of Puente-13 were also convicted of all charges against them at last year’s trial, and they were recently sentenced by Judge Matz.
       
Abraham “Listo” Aldana, 30, of West Covina, was sentenced on Monday to 27 years in federal prison. After Aldana was released from Pelican Bay State Prison in 2008, he became one of Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez’s most aggressive lieutenants, collecting tax payments and helping facilitate the conspiracy to murder and assault rival gang members.
       
On February 26, Michael “Mikey” Torres, 43, of La Puente, who was a key player in the gang’s narcotics trafficking, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for racketeering, drug, and firearm offenses.
       
From at least 2000, all four defendants were personally involved in the manufacturing and distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine, and they used violence to monopolize the drug trade in La Puente and extract taxes from gang members and non-gang members who also sold methamphetamine in the area.
       
Puente-13 is a street gang that was formed in the City of La Puente approximately 60 years ago under the name “Bridgetown Gentlemen.” The gang has since grown to include more than a dozen “cliques” or subgroups, all of which which are loyal to the Mexican Mafia. Puente-13 claims as its “turf” a large portion of La Puente, as well as unincorporated parts of the San Gabriel Valley and portions of nearby cities, such as Hacienda Heights, Walnut and West Covina.
       
Since 2008, as a result of the federal investigations into Puente-13, grand juries have issued four indictments, which resulted in the conviction of approximately 60 members and associates of the gang. The investigations have resulted in the seizure of approximately 77 firearms, 12 pounds of methamphetamine and $1.1 million in cash and other assets.
       
The RICO case against Puente-13 was the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
 
        CONTACT:        Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force
                                Assistant United States Attorney Christopher K. Pelham
                                (213) 894-0610
                                Assistant United States Attorney Mack E. Jenkins
                                (213) 894-2091
                                Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer L. Williams
                               (213) 894-5862
 
DOJ press release / Release No. 13-032 / Issued on Wednesday, March 6 at 12:40 p.m. PST

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