DEA Targets Riverside Street Gang with Alleged Ties to Mexican Mafia
JAN 27 –RIVERSIDE, CA (JAN 27) – DEA and other law enforcement authorities announced the arrest of six defendants linked to a Riverside street gang that is alleged to act under the control of the Mexican Mafia and engage in the trafficking of methamphetamine. The six defendants are among 20 charged in three criminal complaints filed yesterday afternoon in United States District Court and unsealed this morning. Nine of the defendants charged in the federal cases are already in state custody, in some cases on related charges, and five of the defendants are currently being sought by authorities.
The federal criminal cases are part of a coordinated crackdown on the Eastside Rivas (ESR), a 20-year-old street gang with about 500 members that claims territory on the east side of the City of Riverside. The federal investigation, which started in November 2008, led to the criminal complaints that were unsealed today and allege numerous methamphetamine transactions, as well as tactics that ESR uses to maintain power and to cooperate with the Mexican Mafia, to which ESR pays monetary tribute referred to as “taxes” or “rent.”
“Our communities deserve to exist without fear and intimidation inflicted by violent drug gangs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum. “Today’s arrests should significantly impact the violent drug related activity that has wreaked havoc throughout the eastside of Riverside. This effort, as part of Operation Promise, is a promise to our citizen’s of the continued commitment of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels to keep our streets safe.”
Out of the three criminal complaints filed in federal court, two charge single defendants – one with drug trafficking, one with being a felon in possession of a firearm – and the third complaint charges 18 defendants. The main complaint outlines the structure, rules and activities of ESR, noting that:
The investigation into ESR was conducted by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigators with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office and the Riverside Police Department, and special agents with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“Law enforcement at the local and federal levels have once again joined to disrupt a criminal organization responsible for igniting the violence which has a paralyzing effect on the law-abiding citizens of Riverside, and which devastates otherwise peaceful communities,” commented Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “The crimes alleged in this case have serious consequences and, if convicted, ESR gang members will spend a good part of their lives behind bars.”
Those named in the main criminal complaint are:
The other two defendants charged are: David Martinez, 37, who was arrested this morning after being charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and Ronnie Granado, 42, a fugitive, who is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“Federal law enforcement authorities have partnered with local enforcement to take gang members off the streets of communities across Southern California,” said Acting United States Attorney George S. Cardona. “As this action targeting Eastside Rivas demonstrates, we will continue to work with local authorities to go after the worst street gangs that traffic in narcotics and terrorize neighborhoods with their violence.”
The six defendants arrested today are expect to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside. As for the nine defendants currently in state custody, the United States Attorney’s Office expects to file writs to have them brought into federal custody.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
If convicted, each of the 19 defendants charged with narcotics violations face a maximum statutory sentence of life without parole in federal prison. If convicted of the weapons violation, Granado faces up to 10 years in prison.