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Leader of Avenues Gang Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison in Federal Racketeering Case for Murder and Ordering a Killing

OCT 21 (LOS ANGELES)–The one-time top leader of the Avenues gang in northwest Los Angeles and the lead defendant in a federal racketeering indictment who admitted murdering a rival gang member and ordered the killing of one of his underlings was sentenced this morning to 25 years in federal prison.

Rudy Aguirre Jr., also known as “Lil Psycho,” 32, who is a high-ranking associate of the Mexican Mafia with strong family ties to the prison gang, was sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu.

Aguirre is one of the last defendants to be sentenced in relation to a 2009 racketeering indictment that charged 88 linked to the Avenues street gang in northeast Los Angeles (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/pr2009/115.html). The wide-ranging racketeering case alleged a host of crimes, including the August 2008 murder of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Escalante and the killings of several other victims. Most of the other defendants named in the indictment have previously been sentenced, receiving prison terms of up to 25 years. A co-defendant – Carlos Renterria, who admitted that he shot two rival gang members in the head at close range in an attempt to murder them, and that he plotted to murder a fellow Avenues gang member – also received a quarter-century prison term from Judge Wu earlier this month.

According to court documents, including his plea agreement, Aguirre was authorized by the Mexican Mafia to control the activities of the Avenues street gang on the street. As the leader of the Avenues, Aguirre would regularly meet with members of the Mexican Mafia at California penal institutions, where he would receive instructions and authorizations for certain violent crimes, and where he would relay information regarding the activities of the Avenues gang. Among other things, Aguirre was given the authority for designating individuals to collect extortionate “taxes” from drug dealers and others living and working in the area claimed by the Avenues gang. These “taxes” would then be funneled to the Mexican Mafia.

As part of his role in the Avenues, Aguirre shot and killed a rival gang member in 1999. Aguirre was charged with that murder in state court, but the charges against him were dismissed based on pre-trial rulings in that case. Aguirre subsequently was charged with that murder as part of federal case brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (the federal RICO statute), and in July he pleaded guilty in the federal case, admitting that he fatally shot the victim in the Cyprus Park area of northeast Los Angeles.

Aguirre also admitted that he authorized the 2008 murder of an Avenues member because he and others believed that man was skimming money that he collected as “taxes” on behalf of the Avenues gang and the Mexican Mafia.

“No matter what steps criminal gangs like the Mexican Mafia and the Avenues use in attempts to control neighborhoods through intimidation and violence, we will ensure that the residents do not need to live their lives and raise their families in fear,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “I am proud that my office played an instrumental role in bringing justice to a predator responsible for two murders and overseeing a gang that caused so much harm to northeast Los Angeles.”

The federal investigation into the Avenues gang that led to the RICO case was conducted by the Los Angeles HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force and the Los Angeles Police Department. The HIDTA group that conducted the investigation is made up of agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, IRS - Criminal Investigation, the Ontario Police Department, the Riverside Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The federal investigation into the Avenues began after the August 2, 2008 murder of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Able Escalante, who was shot outside his Cypress Park home as he was getting ready to go to work at the Men’s Central Jail.  Based on a collaborative effort by federal and local law enforcement, Deputy Escalante’s murderer, Carlos “Stoney” Velasquez, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in state court (see: http://da.lacounty.gov/mr/archive/2012/121712a.htm). Three other Avenues gang members were also convicted in relation to the Escalante murder, and two others are pending trial in state court.

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