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Justice News

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Orange County Mexican Mafia Associate Sentenced to 64 Months in Federal Prison on Racketeering Charge

SANTA ANA, California – An associate of the Orange County Mexican Mafia criminal enterprise, who pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges related to his role in the Orange County Mexican Mafia, has been sentenced to serve over five years in federal prison.

Danny “Big Shotgun” Rodriguez, 41, of Orange, was sentenced on Monday to 64 months in prison by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford. Rodriguez pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

According to a plea agreement filed in federal court, Rodriguez’s role in the RICO conspiracy included extortion – or collecting “taxes” – from criminal street gang members and others, which enabled the Orange County Mexican Mafia to continue trafficking narcotics and to exert influence over neighborhoods. Rodriguez also distributed messages on behalf of the gang, including messages that ordered “green lights” – assaults – on gang members. The plea agreement notes that Rodriguez wrote a message ordering an assault, which led associates of the Orange County Mexican Mafia to attack an individual in custody.

The Mexican Mafia is a powerful and violent prison gang that controls drug distribution and other illegal activities within the California penal system and on the streets of Southern California by organizing Latino street gang members for the purpose of establishing a larger network for the Mexican Mafia’s illegal activities. If a street gang does not comply with the demands of the Mexican Mafia, the prison gang will order the assault or murder of the offending gang’s members, whether they are in custody or on the streets.

“Defendant Rodriguez helped the Mexican Mafia by collecting ‘taxes’ and passing directives,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Rodriguez, and others like him, enabled the Mexican Mafia to carry out its criminal activities, which involved narcotics trafficking and the use of violence, and this sentence appropriately recognizes that fact.”

Rodriguez was one of 25 defendants named in a RICO indictment brought as part of Operation “Smokin’ Aces,” which was a multi-agency operation that targeted the Orange County wing of the Mexican Mafia and led to charges against more than 80 defendants in federal court and about four dozen people in state court. In addition to Rodriguez, 16 other defendants named in the RICO indictment have been sentenced, with one defendant receiving a prison term of nearly 10 years.

            The investigation was jointly conducted by special agents of the Santa Ana Gang Task Force, which consists of agents and officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Santa Ana Police Department; the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives; and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Special Service Unit.

Updated May 27, 2016