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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

18th Street Gangmember Sentenced To Life In Federal Prison For Racketeering Offenses Related To Fatal Shooting Of 23-Day-Old Infant

LOS ANGELES – A member of the 18th Street criminal street gang was sentenced today to life in federal prison for his conviction on racketeering offenses arising out of the September 2007 shooting of a street vendor near MacArthur Park that resulted in the murder of a 23-day-old infant.

Javier Perez, 35, received the life prison sentence from United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson. There is no parole in the federal system.

Perez was one of four defendants – all of whom were members or associates of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos (CLCS) clique of the 18th Street gang – who were found guilty of federal racketeering offenses last May.

The three other defendants found guilty after last May’s trial are: Eduardo Hernandez, 35; Vladimir Iraheta, 31; and Leonidas Iraheta, 31. Judge Pregerson is scheduled to sentence those defendants on January 24 and 25.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the CLCS 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 CLCS 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 to sell narcotics in the gang’s territory. Those who paid rent received the exclusive authorization to sell narcotics in CLCS territory, as well as protection from rivals. Street vendors operating in CLCS Organization territory also were 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 the CLCS Organization made tens of thousands of dollars a week through its collection of rent. 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 was targeted to be killed by members of the gang in a shooting on September 15, 2007. The man survived despite being shot four times, but a 23-day-old infant sleeping 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 – who had been released from prison only 10 days before – and other CLCS gangsters, under the false pretense that the shooter would hide out from the police there. Once in Mexico, the shooter was driven to a remote area where he was strangled and his lifeless body was thrown over a cliff. Unbeknownst to the would-be killers, the shooter survived the attempt on his life. The CLCS associate who assisted Perez in strangling the shooter was convicted in state court and sentenced to life without parole.

The four convicted at trial 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 various violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR). The charged defendants included local criminal defense attorney Isaac Guillen, who laundered more than $1.3 million in drug and extortion proceeds on behalf of the CLCS Organization and Mexican Mafia member Francisco "Puppet" Martinez. Guillen is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Pregerson tomorrow.

Thirty-seven of the defendants named in the indictment have been convicted in either federal or state court. The remaining six defendants are fugitives.

The CLCS racketeering case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Release No. 13-004

Updated June 22, 2015