Senior Member of Montebello Street Gang Convicted of Federal Racketeering and Firearm Charges
Guilty Verdicts Conclude Operation ‘Sudden Impact,’ which Led to Resolution of Six ‘Cold Case’ Murders and Convictions of nearly Two Dozen Gang Affiliates
LOS ANGELES – A longtime member of the Mexican Mafia-affiliated Southside Montebello street gang was found guilty this afternoon of federal racketeering charges that included providing a firearm used by another gang member to kill a rival.
George Vera Sr., 48, was convicted by a federal jury that determined he conspired to violate the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The jury also found Vera Sr. guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
As a result of today’s convictions, Vera Sr. faces a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison, and a mandatory minimum prison term of five years. United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who presided over a three-week trial, will schedule a sentencing hearing for later this year.
Vera Sr., who was also known as “Rascal” and “Big Rascal,” was a senior “OG” member of Southside Montebello. At trial, prosecutors argued that he led a double life, working as an electrician for Los Angeles County during the day, and acting a gang leader and gang shot-caller during his off hours.
According to court document filed in court, Vera Sr. “engaged in hiding a firearm with a fellow gang member, provided a firearm to a younger gang member that was used in a murder, stored firearms and ammunition at his home for gang members to use, hosted gang meetings, was involved in the payment of ‘taxes’ to the Mexican Mafia on the gang’s behalf, directed younger members of the gang to protect his home from disrespect from rival gangs, and agreed to lie to his son’s probation officer to shield him from prosecution for drug dealing.”
United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker stated: “George Vera Sr. was a senior member of a gang that undertook great efforts to quash its rivals. This gang also maintained an arsenal of weapons, regularly engaged in acts of violence, and was involved in significant narcotics trafficking.”
Two of Vera Sr.’s sons were charged and pleaded guilty in this case. Marcus Matthew Vera pleaded guilty to drug, conspiracy and firearm charges, and will be sentenced later this year. George Vera pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a firearm, and he previously was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison.
Vera Sr. and his two sons are among 16 defendants who have been convicted in federal court on charges related to Operation “Sudden Impact,” which was a task force investigation into gang activities in the City of Montebello.
As a result of Sudden Impact, six defendants were charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in relation to six murder “cold cases” solved during this investigation. Four of those charged in relation to the previously unsolved murder cases have been convicted in state court, and another two defendants are pending trial. Additionally, five other defendants were charged by the District Attorney on crimes ranging from drug sales to attempted murder.
“Montebello Police personnel, working with our federal law enforcement counterparts, have successfully prosecuted some of the top leaders and most dangerous members of a street gang that has terrorized the community for decades,” said Montebello Police Chief Kevin L. McClure. “As a result of this collaborative effort, the City of Montebello is now a safer and more peaceful place.”
Operation Sudden Impact was a multi-agency effort of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Montebello Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Special Services Unit.
As part of the investigation, undercover law enforcement officers and confidential informants infiltrated the Southside Montebello gang and obtained evidence of the gang’s crimes, including murders and methamphetamine distribution.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric Harden stated: “I applaud the agents and prosecutors who pursue investigative leads derived from crime guns. Linking trace and ballistic intelligence can also link the worst of the criminal element on our streets, providing some closure to families and communities.”