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Justice News

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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gang Member Pleads Guilty to South San Francisco Triple Racketeering Murder

SAN FRANCISCO – Joseph Ortiz, 23, of South San Francisco, pleaded guilty today to twenty-five federal charges, including three counts of racketeering murder, eight counts of attempted racketeering murder, two counts of robbery affecting interstate commerce, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit racketeering murder, multiple firearms violations, and multiple violations related to the obstruction of justice, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag.

According to court documents and the defendant’s guilty plea allocution, Ortiz is a member of the 500 Block gang, a Norteño street gang in South San Francisco. Members of the 500 Block gang are allied with members of another Norteño gang in South San Francisco, the C Street gang. The united 500 Block/C Street Gang engages in crimes such as robbery, narcotics trafficking, and murder. Among other acts of violence, members of the 500 Block/C Street Gang sought to attack and kill members of rival Sureño gangs, as well as members of other rival gangs.

During the evening of December 18, 2010, in Saint Francis Square in Daly City, Ortiz saw four individuals he suspected of being Sureño gang members in a car. As a result, Ortiz went to his own car, retrieved a gun, and fired at the car carrying the suspected Sureño as it drove away, wounding three of the occupants.

Four days later, on December 22, 2010, Ortiz and several other members of the 500 Block/C Street Gang were looking for rival gang members to attack. As they drove along Eighth Lane in South San Francisco, Ortiz saw a group of young men he suspected of being rival gang members. Ortiz and some of his co-conspirators got out of their car with guns and fired into the group of suspected rivals, killing three and wounding three; one victim was uninjured.

In addition to these shootings, Ortiz pleaded guilty to robbing at gunpoint a South San Francisco jewelry store on April 5, 2010, as well as robbing at gunpoint a 7-Eleven convenience store in Pacifica four days later, on April 9, 2010. Furthermore, Ortiz pleaded guilty to various charges arising from his efforts to obstruct the investigation of the December 22, 2010 shooting in South San Francisco, including fleeing to Mexico to avoid arrest and prosecution.

Ortiz faces a mandatory minimum term of life imprisonment for each of the three counts of racketeering murder to which he has pled guilty. The maximum terms of imprisonment he faces for his twenty-five counts of conviction are as follows:

  1. Racketeering conspiracy --- Life
  2. Conspiracy to commit racketeering murder --- 10 years
  3. Conspiracy to commit racketeering assault with a dangerous weapon --- 3 years
  4. Attempted racketeering murder (8 counts) --- 10 years for each count
  5. Use of firearm in crime of violence (4 counts) --- Life for each count; mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 10 years for first count, and mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 25 years for each subsequent count
  6. Racketeering murder (3 counts) --- Life for each count; mandatory minimum sentence of life for each count
  7. Use of firearm in crime of violence causing murder --- Life
  8. Conspiracy to obstruct justice --- 5 years
  9. Obstruction of justice --- 20 years
  10. Concealment of object to obstruct investigation --- 20 years
  11. Conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce --- 20 years
  12. Robbery affecting commerce (2 counts) --- 20 years for each count

Ortiz is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Illston on November 1, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Acadia L. Senese and W.S. Wilson Leung are the Assistant United States Attorneys who are prosecuting the case against Ortiz, with the assistance of Kevin Costello, Ponly Tu, Marina Ponomarchuk, and Daniel Charlier-Smith. This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Daly City Police Department and the South San Francisco Police Department, working with Homeland Security Investigations, and with the assistance of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Of the nineteen defendants originally charged as a result of this investigation, twelve have pleaded guilty to racketeering-related offenses and/or offenses related to the obstruction of justice.



Updated November 18, 2014