Agents and task force partners follow crimes and money trail to imprisoned EME leader
LOS ANGELES – Special agents from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Correctional Safety, in conjunction with federal and local authorities, have arrested 15 defendants named in a federal racketeering indictment that describes the development and implementation of a coalition of three criminal street gangs in the Northeast Los Angeles area. The gangs were brought together under a truce ordered by a Mexican Mafia member for the purpose of controlling criminal activity in the neighborhoods where the trio of gangs operated.
Unlike previous federal racketeering cases in this region that targeted long-established street gangs, the indictment that was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury outlines how Mexican Mafia member Arnold Gonzales created a criminal enterprise by unifying three gangs that had traditionally been rivals. According to the 27-count indictment, the “peace treaty” imposed by Arnold Gonzales brought together the Frogtown, Toonerville and Rascals gangs, which then worked “in concert to control the narcotics trafficking and other illicit activities committed in their territories,” which run along the Los Angeles River from Elysian Park nearly to Burbank.
The indictment alleges a conspiracy to violate the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and accuses a total of 22 defendants of being “members and associates of a criminal organization engaged in, amongst other things, conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, narcotics trafficking, extortion, and crimes of violence, including conspiracy to commit murder, murder, attempted murder, and robbery.”
“There is a path of lives ruined, and families devastated by the violence, extortion, and addictions that were created by this gang alliance,” said Bill Kunz, Special Agent in Charge, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Correctional Safety. “So, those who join with the Mexican Mafia should be on notice: law enforcement is also banded together. We will track you down, and take you down.”
Gonzales is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. He is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole at Pelican Bay State Prison. He was convicted on
September 7, 1982 of murder in the first degree, assault with the intent to murder, and burglary in the 2nd degree out of Los Angeles County.
Exploiting a power vacuum created by previous federal RICO cases targeting Northeast Los Angeles gangs and the Mexican Mafia members who controlled them, Arnold Gonzales allegedly assumed control of the three street gangs in the fall of 2010. Because he was incarcerated in Pelican Bay State Prison after being convicted of murder, Arnold Gonzales anointed another Frogtown member – Jorge Grey, also known as “Bouncer” – to be his emissary on the streets, according to the indictment. Acting as the so-called shot caller, Grey convened a meeting of representatives of Northeast Los Angeles gangs in September 2010. At this meeting, Grey informed the gang representatives that he was Arnold Gonzales’s “mouthpiece” and that he had orders to broker a truce among the rival gangs of Frogtown, Toonerville, and the Rascals so that they could work together to control illegal activities in the area on behalf of, and for the benefit of, Arnold Gonzales.
The investigation showed that nearly two years after its formation, the criminal organization had achieved its goal of unifying the three longstanding rival gangs into a single criminal enterprise. Less than two years after Arnold Gonzales imposed the truce on the gangs, one of the Toonerville shot callers, Manuel Vallejo, was talking about the “United Nations,” “New World Order” and “United Neighborhoods,” which he said was the “game plan.” Just a few months ago, Vallejo was boasting about the execution of that “game plan,” noting that he was part of something that had ended more than 50 years of fighting between Frogtown, Toonerville and the Rascals.
“For the past two decades, federal authorities have been fighting the influence of the Mexican Mafia both inside prison facilities and on the streets of Southern California,” said Assistant United States Attorney Robert Dugdale, Chief of the office’s Criminal Division. “We sought to ensure that being a shot caller in such a gang is a job whose only reward will be many, many years in federal custody. The indictment announced today is the latest salvo in this battle, and we will continue our crackdown on criminal organizations like the Mexican Mafia and street gangs that do its bidding as long as they threaten our communities.”
The RICO indictment targeting the Arnold Gonzales Organization is the result of Operation “Gig ‘em,” which was a 2½-year investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Violent Crime Impact Team; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Correctional Safety, Special Service Unit; the Glendale Police Department; and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Glendale Police Chief Rob Castro stated, “The Glendale Police Department recognizes that gang crimes have no borders and the City of Glendale is not immune to the impact of gang violence. Our participation in a multi-jurisdictional operation such as this ensures the safety of our community.”
This morning, authorities arrested 14 of the defendants named in the RICO indictment. Four other defendants were already in custody, and law enforcement continues to search for three defendants, including Grey. (Two other individuals named in separate one-defendant, one-count drug trafficking indictments were also arrested this morning.)
Members of the organization also implemented plans to expand operations into the greater Lancaster, California area, where they hoped to engage in drug trafficking and collect “taxes” on behalf of, and for the benefit, of Arnold Gonzales.
As part of the scheme, several participants in the enterprise allegedly deposited money into Arnold Gonzales’s prison account, with one individual depositing over $133,000 on her own over the course of the 2-year investigation. The money was closely tracked by investigators.
The indictment alleges that Grey and other members of the enterprise engaged in narcotics and weapons transactions at Homeboy Industries, and one defendant allegedly planned to use Homeboy Industries as an “alibi” if he was accused of associating with other gang members in violation of a gang injunction.
In addition to the RICO charge in the indictment, various defendants are charged with narcotics and weapons offenses, including, in one instance, the possession of a machinegun.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
If they are convicted of charges contained in the indictment, all of the defendants would face potential sentences of decades in federal prison.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2015
CONTACT: Luis Patino