Friday, July 22, 2011
99 Members of Mexican Mafia Charged in Operation Black Flag
On July 13, over five hundred law enforcement officers and agents arrested nearly 100 alleged members and associates of the Mexican Mafia as part of a 32-month investigation by the Santa Ana Gang Task Force. The investigation, dubbed "Operation Black Flag," led to five federal indictments and various state felony charges for gang-related crimes.
According to the indictment, federal and local law enforcement officials raided 42 locations throughout Orange County, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, targeting 99 individuals for their roles in crimes and criminal enterprises that carried out such activities as racketeering, extortion, narcotics and firearms violations, assault and murder.
Among the 99 individuals indicted on federal and state charges, 26 of the 57 defendants charged with federal offenses were arrested last week during the operation. Twenty-five were already incarcerated on unrelated charges, while six individuals charged with federal crimes remain at large.
"The Santa Ana Gang Task Force puts years of effort into this complex investigation to find those responsible for the gang violence plaguing the Orange County communities, including two major criminal enterprises calling the shots on the streets and from inside prison walls," said Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office Steven Martinez. "The serious charges the defendants now face, including RICO, are a positive step in ensuring the defendants face the consequences for the abundance of crimes alleged."
A federal grand jury in the Central District of California returned five federal indictments, the last which was returned on June 29. The federal indictments collectively charge 57 members or associates of the Mexican Mafia and the Forming Kaos street gang that operates in the city of Costa Mesa.
The first indictment charges members and associates of the Orange County Mexican Mafia, led by Peter Ojeda, with crimes including conspiracies to commit murder, conspiracies to commit extortion, extortion, and narcotics trafficking for monetary gain.
The second federal indictment charges members and associates of the Forming Kaos gang, operating in Orange County, with conspiracies to commit murder, assaults with dangerous and deadly weapons, extortion, conspiracies to commit extortion, and narcotics and firearms trafficking for monetary gain.
The three remaining federal indictments charge an additional 13 defendants with firearms offenses and narcotics trafficking violations including the distribution of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Many of the federal defendants face a minimum penalty of five to 10 years in prison to maximum penalties of 20 years to life imprisonment, depending on the amount of narcotics alleged and individual criminal histories.
The case was investigated by the FBI; the Santa Ana Police Department; the Orange County Sheriff's Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Special Service Unit; the Costa Mesa Police Department, Gang Enforcement Unit; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.