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Justice News

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Violent Norteño Street Gang Member Sentenced To Five Life Terms Plus Sixty Years In Federal Prison

SAN FRANCISCO – Joseph Ortiz was sentenced to five consecutive life terms plus 60 months in federal prison today after pleading guilty last July, 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 records, Ortiz, 23, of South San Francisco, 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, and the united 500 Block/C Street Gang engaged 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.

The racketeering-related murders and attempted murders to which Ortiz pleaded guilty, took place over a four-day period in December 2010. 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. Three of the occupants were wounded by this attack.

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 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, Ortiz pleaded guilty to racketeering-related conspiracies based on his participation in the conduct of the affairs of the 500 Block/C Street Gang, and robbing at gunpoint a South San Francisco jewelry store on April 5, 2010, and a Pacifica 7-Eleven convenience store on April 9, 2010. He also 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.

“We offer our condolences to the victims’ families. Nothing we can do can erase their pain and sorrow,” stated U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. “We hope, however, that today’s sentencing brings some measure of closure for them. And today’s sentence sends the clear message that we will work tirelessly with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who would terrorize their communities with senseless and brutal acts of violence.”

“This defendant was a shot caller for a violent criminal enterprise that exacted a heavy toll on several Bay Area communities,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. “It’s doubtful today’s sentence will ease the heartache of those who were victimized, but perhaps they can find solace in knowing this defendant’s spree of terror and intimidation has come to an end. HSI is gratified to have played a part in a multi-agency enforcement effort that succeeded in bringing one of the Bay Area’s most dangerous gangs to its knees.”

“The City of South San Francisco is pleased to see that justice has been served in this case and we hope that the families who have been affected by this event can find closure knowing that one of the persons responsible for the murder of their loved ones will be spending the rest of his life in custody. I would also like to thank the members of Homeland Security Investigations and the Daly City Police Department for their assistance to the South San Francisco Police Department in bringing this case to justice,” stated South San Francisco Police Department Chief Michael Massoni.

The sentence was handed down by The Honorable Susan Illston, United States District Court Judge, in San Francisco. Ortiz was given three consecutive life sentences, one for each of the December 22, 2010 murder victims, to be followed by a consecutive life sentence for using a firearm to commit the murders. The Court also imposed an additional consecutive life sentence for the other crimes Ortiz committed, as well as 60 consecutive years imprisonment for using a firearm in relation to those crimes.

Acadia L. Senese and W.S. Wilson Leung are the Assistant United States Attorneys who prosecuted the case, 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 Gang Intelligence and Investigations Unit. Of the nineteen defendants originally charged as a result of this investigation, fourteen have pled guilty to racketeering-related offenses and/or offenses related to the obstruction of justice. The remaining defendants are scheduled to go to trial on March 31, 2014 before The Honorable Susan Illston.

(Ortiz second superseding indictment )



Updated November 18, 2014