LOS ANGELES – A federal jury late Tuesday convicted three men and one woman from Los Angeles County of conspiring to participate in the racketeering activities of the Florencia 13 criminal street gang (F13 Gang), as well as of related drug trafficking and firearms offenses.
Jose Dorado, 34, Tannous Fazah, 26, Jose Sanchez, 40, all of Huntington Park, and Giselle Casado, 33, of Downey, were convicted late yesterday in United States District Court following a 13-day trial. All four defendants were found guilty of both Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Conspiracy and Drug Trafficking Conspiracy, the latter being based on the F13 Gang’s street sales of illegal narcotics and coordinated operations to smuggle drugs into the Los Angeles County Jail (LACJ).
After the jury returned its verdicts, United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell scheduled sentencing hearings for October 24, 2016.
“These defendants beat and shot a young man to death and increased the flow of illegal drugs into our community,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The verdicts remove these violent defendants from our community and deal an important blow against the Florencia 13 gang’s campaign of drugs and violence.”
Dorado and Fazah alone were found guilty of conspiring to commit a Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) for a gang-related beating in Huntington Park that ultimately led to the shooting death of the victim. Dorado and Fazah also were found guilty of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it (heroin and methamphetamine, respectively) and of each being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Additionally, Sanchez was found guilty of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, based on his possession of a handgun at one of the illegal gambling establishments run by the gang known as “casitas.”
Dorado and Casado were arrested on August 6, 2013 as part of a large-scale takedown of more than 20 members and associates of the F13 Gang. Fazah and Sanchez were later transferred to the United States District Court from state custody, where they had been incarcerated on separate felony state charges.
“This multi-agency law enforcement effort exhibits the positive community impact of focused, diligent and dedicated investigative work,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden. “ATF remains steadfast in its stance to disrupt organized gang activity and seek prosecution of anyone who chooses to offend at will, denying law abiding citizens a community or workplace free from violence.”
As demonstrated at trial, Dorado, Fazah, and Sanchez were F13 Gang “soldiers” who engaged in narcotics trafficking, violence, and/or firearms possession in furtherance of the gang. For her part, Casado was shown to be a “secretary” who assisted the extortionate tax collections and drug trafficking activities of the gang’s two “shot callers” on the streets; and she also repeatedly visited the operational leader of the gang – Mexican Mafia member Leonel Laredo, aka “Wizard” – imprisoned at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, to relay gang-related messages.
“The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and Operation Safe Street Bureau were pleased to hear that the collaborative efforts between the Federal Government and the LASD resulted in these significant convictions,” said Captain Matt Burson, Sheriff's Operation Safe Streets Bureau. “Although these violent criminal street gangs continue to exist today, joint law enforcement endeavors such as this are proven to be effective and further collaboration with our Federal partners is welcomed.”
The evidence at trial showed, among other things, that Dorado and Fazah received an order from an incarcerated, senior F13 Gang member to violently discipline a junior member of the gang. That order, which was communicated during a recorded call over the LACJ inmate telephone system, included instructions both to beat the victim severely and to kill him. That night, Fazah, Dorado, and other F13 Gang members lured the victim into an alley and attacked him. At the conclusion of the brutal beating that ensued, Fazah brandished a handgun and shot the victim in the face, killing him. Dorado then reported back to the incarcerated F13 Gang member who issued the order: “That’s a done deal. You don’t gotta worry about that punk no more.”
Dorado was also involved in the F13 Gang’s efforts to smuggle illegal narcotics into local jails. As revealed by a series of inmate telephone recordings, he participated in the attempt to have a co-conspirator smuggle heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine through the Los Angeles Metropolitan Courthouse on Hill Street.
The evidence further showed that Sanchez participated in the F13 Gang’s drug trafficking activities at the gang’s casitas. Sanchez also served as armed security and carried a firearm to protect the casita’s drug operations.
Chief Cosme Lozano of the Huntington Park Police Department said: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this investigation and the conviction of the suspects. These violent gang members belong in prison, not in our communities. This case is an example of what can be accomplished when local, state, and federal agencies collaborate to investigate, arrest, and successfully prosecute these violent criminals.”
At the time of sentencing, all defendants will face a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment on the RICO Conspiracy and Drug Trafficking Conspiracy counts, as well as mandatory minimum prison terms of 10 years based on the amounts of methamphetamine at issue. Sanchez will face an additional five-year mandatory, consecutive term of imprisonment due to his conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Dorado, Fazah, and Sanchez have all been held without bond since entering federal custody. Casado had been released on bond since her arrest in August 2013; however, after the verdicts Judge O’Connell ordered her remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals’ Service.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Huntington Park Police Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Terrence P. Mann, Sheila Nagaraj and Victoria Degtyareva.