Four Members of 18th Street Gang Convicted of Federal Racketeering Offenses that Include Fatal Shooting of 3-Week-Old Infant
LOS ANGELES – Four high-ranking members of an entrenched criminal street gang were found guilty this afternoon of participating in a racketeering enterprise responsible for the September 2007 shooting of a street vendor near MacArthur Park that resulted in the murder of a 3-week-old infant.
Following an eight-week trial, a federal jury convicted the four defendants, three of whom are members of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos (CLCS), which is a “clique” of the 18th Street gang.
After being found guilty of a host of federal offenses, all four defendants now face potential sentences of life without parole in federal prison.
The four defendants found guilty today are: Eduardo Hernandez, 35; Vladimir Iraheta, 31; Leonidas Iraheta, 31; Javier Perez, 35.
The four convicted today were among 43 members and associates of the CLCS Organization who were charged in a 2009 federal racketeering indictment that alleged acts of violence, narcotics distribution, money laundering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR). The charged defendants included attorney Isaac Guillen who laundered over $1.3 million in drug and extortion proceeds on behalf of the CLCS Organization and Mexican Mafia member Francisco “Puppet” Martinez. With today’s guilty verdicts, a total of 37 people have been convicted in the case investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department.
“The results in this case are proof that the members and the leaders of the 18th Street Gang will be held accountable for the violence and intimidation they use in their efforts to terrorize the law-abiding residents of the City of Los Angeles,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The members of the 18th Street Gang, including those convicted today, thought that they controlled neighborhoods and territory within this City. Today’s verdicts prove otherwise, and law enforcement at every level will work together to continue to make our streets safe.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the CLCS Organization used violence and intimidation to control narcotics distribution in an area adjoining MacArthur Park in the Westlake District of Los Angeles. Under the orders of gang leadership, narcotics suppliers and street dealers paid “rent” – typically a percentage of proceeds from the sale of narcotics – in exchange for permission from the CLCS Organization to sell narcotics in the organization’s territory. Those who paid rent received the exclusive authorization to sell narcotics in CLCS Organization territory, as well as protection from rivals. Street vendors operating in CLCS Organization territory were also required to pay rent to the organization in order to be allowed to sell their wares near MacArthur Park. Evidence presented at trial showed that Vladimir and Leonidas Iraheta and Eduardo Hernandez were making thousands of dollars a week extorting the street vendors. The failure or refusal to pay rent and otherwise follow the gang’s rules would result in retribution, including acts of violence.
A street vendor who refused to make a $50 rent payment to the CLCS Organization was targeted by members of the gang in a shooting on September 15, 2007. Although the man survived despite being shot four times, a 3-week-old infant sitting in a stroller next to the vendor was struck and killed.
Shortly after the failed attempt to murder the vendor and the resulting death of the child, CLCS Organization leaders ordered the kidnaping and murder of the shooter in order to make amends with the Mexican Mafia. The shooter was thereafter taken to Mexico by Javier Perez and other CLCS Organization gang members under the false premise of hiding the shooter from the police. Once in Mexico, the shooter was driven to a remote area where he was strangled. But, unbeknownst to the would-be killers, the shooter survived the attack.
The four defendants found guilty today are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson in September.
Release No. 12-062
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