Norteño Gang Member Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For RICO Conspiracy And Use Of Firearms
SAN JOSE – Anthony Lek was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison for his role in a racketeering conspiracy and for using or possessing firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Judge.
On January 4, 2018, Lek, 31, of Salinas, pleaded guilty to one count of Racketeering Conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); Robbery Affecting Interstate Commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a); and Using a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2. According to the plea agreement, Lek has been an active member of the “Santa Rita” street gang, which is a subset of the larger Norteño gang affiliation in Salinas, since at least 2007. An essential element of being a Norteño gang member in Salinas was a commitment to violently attack and even kill rival Sureño gang members. Since at least 2009, Lek began associating with a particularly violent subgroup of Norteño gang members in Salinas and participated with them in conducting three take-over style armed robberies of commercial establishments.
Specifically, on June 2, 2010, Lek and three fellow Norteño gang members conducted an armed robbery of the Zale’s jewelry store at the Gilroy Outlets. Lek was armed with a semi-automatic firearm and pointed his gun at the workers and forced them to open the jewelry cases. Lek and a co-robber used zip ties to bind the workers after they opened the jewelry cases. The robbers took over $800,000 worth of jewelry during this robbery.
A few months later, in October 2010, Lek and another Norteño gang member committed an armed robbery of a check-cashing business in Turlock, California. The robbers took several thousand dollars.
On March 17, 2011, Lek and three fellow Norteño gang members committed an armed robbery of the Chase bank in Santa Maria, California. Lek scoped out the bank the day before the robbery. On the day of the robbery, Lek remained outside as the getaway driver of a second vehicle staged a short distance from the bank. The robbers stole a total of $174,000.
On October 28, 2015, Lek was charged in a 71 count superseding indictment along with his co-conspirators. The investigation leading to the indictment was part of the Salinas Police Department and FBI’s crackdown on Norteño gangs in Monterey County.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Koh also sentenced Lek to a five-year period of supervised release, to commence after Lek completes his prison sentence. Lek has been in federal custody since June 1, 2015, and will begin serving his sentence immediately.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Hopkins, Christiaan Highsmith, and Stephen Meyer are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Nina Burney Williams, Adria Trgovich, and Lance Libatique. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and Salinas Police Department.