41 Linked To El Monte Street Gang Charged In Federal Racketeering Indictment That Alleges Murders, Robberies And Narcotics Trafficking
LOS ANGELES – More than 400 law enforcement officers this morning conducted an operation that led to the arrest of 17 members and associates of the El Monte Flores gang, an organization that takes direction from the Mexican Mafia prison gang and controls criminal activity in the cities of El Monte and South El Monte.
Those taken into custody today are among 41 defendants named in a 167-page racketeering indictment that alleges “El Monte Flores gang members commit crimes, including acts of violence (ranging from battery to murder), drug trafficking offenses, robbery, burglary, carjacking, witness intimidation, kidnapping, weapons trafficking, credit card fraud, identity theft, and hate crimes directed against African-Americans who might reside or be present in the cities of El Monte and South El Monte in an effort to rid these cities of all African-Americans.”
Other gang-related crimes are outlined in the 62-count indictment, including the execution of a former Mexican Mafia member and the fatal shooting of four others in an El Monte residence in 1995. The indictment also outlines an ongoing dispute involving members of the Mexican Mafia who are attempting to exercise control over the gang. One of those Mexican Mafia members – James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 52, who is currently in federal custody after his supervised release following a 20-year sentence in a federal homicide case was revoked – is the lead defendant in the indictment. Other Mexican Mafia members serving life prison terms are not charged in the indictment, but they are listed as co-conspirators.
The gang maintains a significant presence at the Boys & Girls Club of America – San Gabriel Valley Club on Mountain View Road, where gang members openly sold drugs, held gang meetings and even held a car wash fundraiser, according to the indictment. Members of the gang also regularly use and threaten to use violence to extort “taxes” from drug dealers at “Crawford’s Plaza” (at Valley Boulevard and Garvey Avenue) and the “Klingerman” apartments, as well as from fraudulent document vendors who operate at Crawford’s Plaza. The indictment further alleges several incidents dating back to early 2001 in which African-American victims in El Monte were attacked, threatened and subjected to racial epithets.
The investigation into the El Monte Flores gang was conducted by a task force that included the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; IRS – Criminal Investigation; and the El Monte Police Department
According to the indictment that was unsealed this morning, El Monte Flores, which has an estimated 800 members, operated as a criminal enterprise that used violence and intimidation to exercise authority in the area it claimed. The multi-generational gang was formed in the 1960s, and since then it has controlled the drug trade in El Monte and South El Monte.
The defendants named in the federal indictment face various charges, including conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; violent crimes in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute controlled substances; using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking; weapons charges; conspiracy to launder money; and being an illegal alien after previously being deported.
Those taken into custody today are expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
If they are convicted, all of the defendants would face up to 20 years for the RICO and potentially decades more depending on which additional offenses they are charged with. One defendant – Johnny Mata, 33, of Baldwin Park, California – faces a potential death penalty if he is convicted of being the shooter in the slaying of a rival gang member in Baldwin Park on Christmas Eve in 2010.
Out of the 41 defendants named in the federal indictment, 17 were arrested this morning. Fifteen defendants named in the grand jury indictment were already in custody. Authorities are continuing to search for nine defendants.
In addition to the law enforcement agencies who conducted the investigation, several agencies provided substantial assistance during this morning’s takedown, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Irvine Police Department, the Covina Police Department, the Montebello Police Department, the Azusa Police Department, the Baldwin Park Police Department, the United States Marshals Service, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Release No. 14-099