Criminal Justice News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Defendant Extradited to Face Charges in Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry Murder Case

Ivan Soto-Barraza, who is charged with the first degree murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, was extradited to the United States from Mexico today, announced Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California.
 
Agent Terry was fatally shot on Dec. 14, 2010, when he and other Border Patrol agents encountered Soto-Barraza and others in a rural area north of Nogales, Arizona. Of six defendants charged so far, two have pleaded guilty and two are awaiting trial.
 
“This marks another step forward in our aggressive pursuit of those responsible for the murder of Agent Brian Terry, who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country,” said Attorney General Holder. "We will never stop seeking justice against those who do harm to our best and bravest."
 
“This extradition is another major development in the pursuit of justice for Agent Terry and his family,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “As we continue to make significant progress in this case, we are constantly motivated by the memory of Agent Terry and his sacrifice for our country.”
Soto-Barraza is scheduled to be arraigned in federal district court in Tucson, Arizona, on August 1, 2014. The indictment charges Soto-Barraza and others with first degree murder, second degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and assault on a federal officer. In addition to the murder of Agent Terry, the indictment alleges that the defendants assaulted Border Patrol Agents William Castano, Gabriel Fragoza and Timothy Keller, who were with Agent Terry during the firefight.   
 
On July 20, 2012, in order to seek the public’s assistance, Department of Justice officials announced a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest of four fugitives: Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, Lionel Portillo-Meza and Soto-Barraza. Portillo-Meza was captured in Mexico in September 2012 and extradited to the U.S. from Mexico on June 17, 2014. Soto-Barraza was captured in Mexico in September 2013.   Favela-Astorga and Osorio-Arellanes are fugitives.
 
A fifth defendant, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in February 2014. A sixth defendant, Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who was in custody at the time of Agent Terry’s murder, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013.  
 
This case is being prosecuted in federal court in Tucson by attorneys from the Southern District of California, Special Attorneys Todd W. Robinson, David D. Leshner, and Fred Sheppard.   The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is recused.   This case is being investigated by the FBI. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance with the extradition.
 
The public is reminded that an indictment is a formal charging document and defendants are presumed innocent until the government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

41 Linked to El Monte Street Gang Charged in Federal Racketeering Indictment that Alleges Murders, Robberies and Narcotics Trafficking



LOS ANGELES – More than 400 law enforcement officers this morning conducted an operation that led to the arrest of 17 members and associates of the El Monte Flores gang, an organization that takes direction from the Mexican Mafia prison gang and controls criminal activity in the cities of El Monte and South El Monte.

Those taken into custody today are among 41 defendants named in a 167-page racketeering indictment that alleges “El Monte Flores gang members commit crimes, including acts of violence (ranging from battery to murder), drug trafficking offenses, robbery, burglary, carjacking, witness intimidation, kidnapping, weapons trafficking, credit card fraud, identity theft, and hate crimes directed against African-Americans who might reside or be present in the cities of El Monte and South El Monte in an effort to rid these cities of all African-Americans.”

Other gang-related crimes are outlined in the 62-count indictment, including the execution of a former Mexican Mafia member and the fatal shooting of four others in an El Monte residence in 1995. The indictment also outlines an ongoing dispute involving members of the Mexican Mafia who are attempting to exercise control over the gang. One of those Mexican Mafia members – James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 52, who is currently in federal custody after his supervised release following a 20-year sentence in a federal homicide case was revoked – is the lead defendant in the indictment. Other Mexican Mafia members serving life prison terms are not charged in the indictment, but they are listed as co-conspirators.

The gang maintains a significant presence at the Boys & Girls Club of America – San Gabriel Valley Club on Mountain View Road, where gang members openly sold drugs, held gang meetings and even held a car wash fundraiser, according to the indictment. Members of the gang also regularly use and threaten to use violence to extort “taxes” from drug dealers at “Crawford’s Plaza” (at Valley Boulevard and Garvey Avenue) and the “Klingerman” apartments, as well as from fraudulent document vendors who operate at Crawford’s Plaza. The indictment further alleges several incidents dating back to early 2001 in which African-American victims in El Monte were attacked, threatened and subjected to racial epithets.

The investigation into the El Monte Flores gang was conducted by a task force that included the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; IRS – Criminal Investigation; and the El Monte Police Department.

According to the indictment that was unsealed this morning, El Monte Flores, which has an estimated 800 members, operated as a criminal enterprise that used violence and intimidation to exercise authority in the area it claimed. The multi-generational gang was formed in the 1960s, and since then it has controlled the drug trade in El Monte and South El Monte.

The defendants named in the federal indictment face various charges, including conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; violent crimes in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute controlled substances; using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking; weapons charges; conspiracy to launder money; and being an illegal alien after previously being deported.

Those taken into custody today are expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court.

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, all of the defendants would face up to 20 years for the RICO and potentially decades more depending on which additional offenses they are charged with. One defendant – Johnny Mata, 33, of Baldwin Park, California – faces a potential death penalty if he is convicted of being the shooter in the slaying of a rival gang member in Baldwin Park on Christmas Eve in 2010.

If they are convicted, all of the defendants would face up to 20 years for the RICO and potentially decades more depending on which additional offenses they are charged with. One defendant – Johnny Mata, 33, of Baldwin Park, California – faces a potential death penalty if he is convicted of being the shooter in the slaying of a rival gang member in Baldwin Park on Christmas Eve in 2010.

In addition to the law enforcement agencies who conducted the investigation, several agencies provided substantial assistance during this morning’s takedown, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Irvine Police Department, the Covina Police Department, the Montebello Police Department, the Azusa Police Department, the Baldwin Park Police Department, the United States Marshals Service, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative



Armed Career Criminal from Roswell Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearms and Drug Trafficking Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – Raymond Lariva, 30, of Roswell, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to federal firearms and drug trafficking charges. The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks, Special Agent in Charge Bernard J. Zapor of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Phil Smith of the Roswell Police Department.

U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that Lariva was prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.

"We are pleased to join our federal partners in removing these violent offenders from our community," said 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Bernard J. Zapor said taking violent criminals off the streets and putting them behind bars has always been a focus of ATF. “We commend the agents and officers who repeatedly risk their lives to remove these violent offenders from our communities. I wish to recognize the leadership of U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and his office for their relentless prosecution of these violent offenders.”

Court records reflect that Lariva was arrested in Roswell on state charges in Dec. 31, 2012, after he attempted to avoid capture on an outstanding state warrant. On Oct. 15, 2013, Lariva was transferred to federal custody to face related federal charges in a criminal complaint that had been filed in Jan. 2013. The state charges subsequently were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.

According to court filings, on Dec. 31, 2012, an officer of the Roswell Police Department came upon Lariva while responding to a call. The officer, who recognized Lariva and was aware of a pending warrant for his arrest, attempted to make contact with Lariva. Lariva took off running and a foot chase ensued. During the chase, Lariva threw a small black pouch over his shoulder followed by a phone case, identification card and other items. After Lariva was arrested, officers retrieved the black pouch which contained numerous small baggies containing methamphetamine. On Jan. 3, 2013, after reviewing recorded telephone calls made by Lariva while in state custody, officers found a loaded pistol and Lariva’s cellphone on the rooftop of a building in the area in which the pursuit had taken place.

Lariva was indicted on Jan. 15, 2014, and charged with (1) being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition; (2) using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and (3) possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The indictment alleged that Lariva committed the offenses charged in Chaves County, N.M., on Dec. 31, 2012. At the time, Lariva was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of robbery, possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to commit burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

During today’s proceedings, Lariva entered a guilty plea to the three-count indictment without the benefit of a plea agreement.

Lariva has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Lariva faces an enhanced sentence of not less than 15 years to life in prison on the felon in possession and methamphetamine charges based on his status as an armed career offender. He also will be sentenced to a mandatory five years in prison for using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime which must be served consecutive to the prison sentence imposed on the other two charges.

This case was investigated by the Roswell office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Roswell Police Department with assistance from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.

ATF Offers Reward In Gun Store Burglary



ATF and Firearms Industry Offer Reward in Pleasant Grove Firearms Theft

PLEASANT GROVE, Ala. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in conjunction with the Pleasant Grove Police Department and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) — the trade association for the firearms industry announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft of firearms from Pleasant Grove Gun Supply, a federal firearm licensee (FFL). ATF is offering a reward in the amount of $1,500, which will be matched by the NSSF for a total reward of $3,000. This reward is part of a larger national cooperative initiative between the NSSF and ATF in which NSSF matches ATF reward in cases involving the theft of firearms from federally licensed firearms retailers. ATF works closely with members of the firearms industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms.

On Dec. 3, 2013, the Pleasant Grove Gun Supply, 839 Park Drive, Pleasant Grove, Ala. was burglarized and a total of seven firearms were reported stolen to the Pleasant Grove Police Department.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the ATF at (800) ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).

Las Vegas Street Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Racketeering and Drug Charges


On the second day of his federal jury trial, a Las Vegas Playboy Bloods street gang member pleaded guilty today to racketeering and drug charges, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of the District of Nevada and Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“We will use federal resources to prosecute street gang members who commit cowardly and horrible crimes in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden.   “I commend the many law enforcement officers who worked on this investigation and assisted us in ensuring a conviction in this case.”

Markette Tillman, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of RICO conspiracy and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson on Oct. 28, 2014.   Tillman faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, as well as fines of up to $1 million.   The jury trial began yesterday, July 28, 2014, and the government had called seven witnesses to testify.   Tillman is the remaining gang member to be convicted out of 10 charged in a RICO indictment filed in 2008.

According to the guilty plea agreement and evidence produced at trial, the Bloods are a nationally-known criminal street gang whose members engage in drug trafficking and acts of violence.   The Playboy Bloods is a local “set” or affiliate of the Bloods, with local control and operation within the Las Vegas metropolitan area.   The Playboy Bloods operate primarily in the Sherman Gardens Annex, a public housing complex, located at the corner of Doolittle and H Streets in Las Vegas, and commonly called the “Jets.”   On or about Jan. 20, 2004, Tillman aided and abetted the murder of a security guard at the Jets.   The guard approached Tillman and several other Playboy Bloods and told them to leave the property.   An argument ensued, and the guard rode away on his bicycle to get help.   One of the Playboy Bloods fired a gun at the guard, hitting him two times and killing him.   Tillman admitted that he aided and abetted the murder of the guard and acted deliberately and intentionally with extreme disregard for human life.   Tillman further admitted that he agreed with other members of the Playboy Bloods to manufacture and distribute narcotics, primarily crack cocaine, and to operate drug houses within the Playboy Bloods’ turf.   Tillman specifically admitted to distributing in excess of 280 grams of crack cocaine.   Tillman also admitted that he distributed crack cocaine to another person on about Jan. 3, 2007, at one of the drug houses.

Nine other defendants who have been convicted and sentenced, as follows:
 
·          Jacorey Taylor, aka “Mo-B,” 31, convicted by a jury of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity, using a firearm during a crime of violence, participating in a drug conspiracy, and possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute and sentenced to life in prison Oct. 21, 12013.
 
·          Steven Booth, aka “Stevie-P,” 27, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving two murders and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on April 10, 2013
 
·          Reginald Dunlap, aka “Bowlie,” 30, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving one murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on April 9, 2013
 
·          Demichael Burks, aka “Mikey P,” 29, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced to 6½ years in prison on Dec. 3, 2010  
 
·          Anthony Mabry, aka “Akim Slim,” 43, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Oct. 20, 2010
 
·          Delvin Ward, aka “D-Luv,” 37, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Sept. 17, 2010
 
·          Terrence Thomas, aka “Seven,” 40, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 16, 2010
 
·          Sebastian Wigg, aka “Rock,” 36, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and was sentenced to five years in prison on March 29, 2010
 
·          Fred Nix, aka “June P,” 36, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and was sentenced to five years in prison on March 29, 2010  
 
The cases were investigated by the FBI’s Las Vegas Safe Streets Gang Task Force, which includes officers from the North Las Vegas Police Department and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas D. Dickinson and Phillip N. Smith, Jr., and Kevin L. Rosenberg, Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime and Gang Section.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force Arrests York Murder Suspect in Richmond, VA




Harrisburg, PA – Today, U.S. Marshal Martin Pane announced the arrest of Jeffrey Reid, a 27-year-old man, on charges of criminal homicide and other related offenses.

On July 28, deputy U.S. marshals and task force officers from the Richmond, VA office arrested Reid without incident in the 2400 block of Venable St in Richmond, VA.

Reid was charged by the York City Police Department in July 2014 with criminal homicide, possession of a firearm, robbery and other related offenses.

The USMS worked jointly in this investigation with personnel from the York City Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Latimore Township Police Department, Adams County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals from the Eastern District of Virginia.

United States Marshal Pane stated, “It is critically important that the U.S. Marshals Service locate and arrest fugitives wanted for violent crimes, especially those who have no regard for human life and who attempt to hide. This capture is a testament of the Task Force’s commitment to make our communities safer and more secure.”