19 indicted in alleged racketeering case targeting South San Francisco street gang Long-term probe links suspects to multiple murders, robberies, drug trafficking

May 6, 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on May 3, 2012 released the following:

“SAN FRANCISCO — Federal and local authorities announced the indictment Thursday of 19 members of a South San Francisco street gang on racketeering and other federal charges, alleging they engaged in a host of crimes, including murder, robbery and narcotics trafficking as part of a broader conspiracy to preserve the organization’s power and protect its territory from rival gangs.

Thirteen of the defendants, members and associates of the “500 Block/C Street” gang, were arrested Thursday during a multi-agency law enforcement operation. Three special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were injured during the enforcement action. They were transported to a Bay area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The 13 individuals arrested Thursday, and two other defendants who were already in federal custody, are expected to make their initial appearance in federal court Friday morning. The remaining four defendants, who are currently in state custody, will be turned over to federal authorities next week to face the charges.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, federal and local officials provided an overview of the 17-month probe and the resulting 29-count superseding indictment. The prosecution is being overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

“The charges that were unsealed today are the result of the tireless efforts of several law enforcement agencies who are working together to keep the community safe,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. “For the victims and their families, there is nothing we can do to erase their pain and sorrow. I hope, however, that these charges begin to provide some closure for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with the three Homeland Security Investigation (special) agents who were injured during this morning’s operation. My office is proud to be associated with professionals who put their lives on the line to protect others and are serious about keeping the community safe. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to help bring to justice those who terrorize their communities with violence and fear.”

The indictment, handed down April 24 and unsealed Friday, accuses the members and associates of the “500 Block/C Street” gang with conspiring to commit murder and assault in the aid of racketeering; using firearms in connection with violent crime; and obstruction of justice. Four of the defendants who are specifically charged with using a firearm in the commission of a murder could face the death penalty. Additionally, 12 of the other defendants in the case could receive up to life in prison if convicted of all of the charges lodged against them.

“Today is a welcome day for residents of South San Francisco and a very bad day for an entrenched gang based here in the Bay Area,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. “This indictment and the related arrests serve as a warning to local gangs about the consequences of using violence and fear to maintain control of their turf.”

The indictment is the culmination of investigations originally initiated by the Daly City Police Department and the South San Francisco Police Department following separate shootings in those communities. The Daly City shooting occurred Dec. 18, 2010, and left three people injured. Four days later, a shooting in South San Francisco killed three individuals and wounded three others. As the probe widened, the local police departments sought the assistance and expertise of ICE HSI. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office also aided with the investigation. The U.S. Marshals Service provided significant assistance during Thursday’s enforcement action.

“The South San Francisco City Council extends its sincere congratulations to our Police Department, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the Daly City Police Department and to the members of the San Mateo County Gang Intelligence Unit for their diligent investigative efforts over the past 16 months,” said South San Francisco Mayor Richard Garbarino. “Knowing arrests have been made will hopefully start to bring a sense of closure for the families and the entire community. The City of South San Francisco will continue its commitment to strengthen our community and encourages everyone to stand together against community violence.”

The indictment alleges the “500 Block/C Street” gang constituted a racketeering enterprise and that the defendants conspired to engage in narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery and murder to further the aims of the organization. The indictment further states that while the “500 Block/C Street” was a Norteño gang, the organization warred not only with Sureño gangs, but also with rival Norteño cliques. Below are the 16 defendants charged as part of the racketeering conspiracy and the maximum penalties they face:

  • Joseph “Little Vicious” Ortiz, 22, of South San Francisco, possible death penalty;
  • Victor “Little Creeper” Flores, 20, of Petaluma; possible death penalty;
  • Justin “Teddy” Whipple, 19, of San Bruno, possible death penalty;
  • Benjamin “BG” Campos-Gonzalez, 21, of San Mateo, possible death penalty;
  • Michael “Vicious” Ortiz, Jr., 25, of San Bruno, life in prison;
  • Michael “Blackie” Ortiz, Sr., 48, of San Bruno, life in prison;
  • Armando “Savage” Acosta, 27, of Pacifica, life in prison;
  • Giovanni “Gio” Rimando Ascencio, 22, of South San Francisco, life in prison;
  • Raymond “Tear Drop” Hembry, 33, of South San Francisco, life in prison;
  • James “Pimpy” Hembry, 31, of Daly City, life in prison;
  • Richard “Maniac” Martinez, 25, of Hayward, life in prison;
  • Rodrigo “Ayo” Aguayo, 23, of San Mateo, life in prison;
  • Gregorio “Rhino” Guzman, 38, of San Mateo, life in prison;
  • Mario “Fat Boy” Bergren, 23, of South San Francisco, life in prison;
  • Andrew “Andy” Bryant, 29, of Daly City, life in prison; and
  • Peter “P-Nasty” Davis, 26, of San Francisco, life in prison.

The indictment also charges four of the above defendants – Joseph Ortiz, Victor Flores, Justin Whipple and Benjamin Campos-Gonzalez – with three counts of murder in aid of racketeering; four counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering; and related firearms offenses stemming from their alleged role in the fatal South San Francisco shooting. Additionally, Joseph Ortiz is charged with four other attempted murders in aid of racketeering and a related firearms offense arising from the Daly City shooting.

The indictment details the defendants’ involvement in the gang and the organization’s current leadership structure. It alleges that Joseph Ortiz, one of the ranking members of the 500 Block clique, initially joined the gang when he was approximately 11 years old. According to the indictment, in 2011 Raymond Hembry took over as the leader of the C Street clique of the merged gang and Giovanni Ascencio assumed control over the 500 Block side of the organization.

The three defendants in the case who are not facing racketeering charges are accused of being accessories after the fact to the South San Francisco murders and attempted murders. They are:

  • Louis Rodriguez, 30, of Milbrae, 60 years in prison;
  • Tanya “La China” Rodriguez, 45, of San Bruno, 40 years in prison; and
  • Betty Ortiz, 49, of San Bruno, 40 years in prison.

Specifically, these defendants are charged with various obstruction-related offenses for their alleged efforts to hinder the investigation into “Eighth Lane” shootings. According to the court document, their actions included washing and concealing weapons used in the murders; questioning a perspective witnesses and transporting that person from northern California to Mexico; and wiring money to Mexico.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Acadia L. Senese and W.S. Wilson Leung, with support from paralegal Kevin Costello and legal technician Daniel Charlier-Smith.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Alleged Members of Native Mob Charged in Sweeping Racketeering Indictment

January 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 25, 2012 released the following:

“MINNEAPOLIS— A 47-count federal indictment unsealed in part late yesterday charges 24 alleged members of the Native Mob gang with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and other crimes. The Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery and murder. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members, including juveniles, regularly recruited from communities with large, young, male, Native American populations. Association with the gang is often signified by wearing red and black clothing or sporting gang-related tattoos.

Six defendants made their initial federal court appearances late yesterday afternoon. They were apprehended earlier Tuesday, during a take-down conducted by between 100 and 150 local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement officials. Arrests were made on the White Earth, Mille Lacs, and Leech Lake Indian reservations as well as in the Twin Cities. Of the 18 remaining defendants, 12 are presently in jail or prison on other charges, while six continue to be sought by law enforcement. The six individuals arrested yesterday remain in custody pending their next hearings, scheduled for Jan. 26 and 27.

Earlier today, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said of the investigation, “This investigation exemplifies the law enforcement cooperation we are fortunate to experience here in Minnesota. Local, state, federal, and tribal investigators worked side by side to take down some of the most violent criminals in our state and, in the process, disrupt an extremely dangerous gang that diminishes the quality of life for those who live and work in Native American communities. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the investigation. Their efforts have made our streets and communities much safer.”

The indictment alleges that since at least the mid-1990s, the defendants named in this case and others have conspired to conduct criminal activity through an “enterprise,” namely, the Native Mob, in violation of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The indictment alleges that the primary objective of this “enterprise” is to preserve, protect, promote and enhance the Native Mob’s power, territory, and financial gains.

To that end, gang members purportedly distribute illegal drugs, from crack cocaine to ecstasy. They also reportedly provide monetary support to other members, including those incarcerated; share with one another police reports, victim statements and other case discovery; hinder or obstruct officials from identifying or apprehending those wanted by the law; and intimidate witnesses to Native Mob crimes. Moreover, they purportedly maintain and circulate firearms for gang use and commit acts of violence, including murder, against individuals associated with rival gangs.

Those arrested yesterday, along with their last known residence, include:

  • Dale Wesley Ballinger, Jr., 20, Isle, Minn.;
  • Damien Lee Beaulieu, 20, Onamia, Minn.;
  • Aaron James Gilbert, Jr., 24, Minneapolis;
  • Cory Gene Oquist, 22, Bemidji, Minn.;
  • Dale John Pindegayosh, 29, Cass Lake, Minn.; and
  • Justen Lee Poitra, 26, Cass Lake.

In addition to the racketeering charge filed against all 24 defendants, other charges were levied against some of the defendants. Those charges include conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; the use and carrying of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; felon in possession of ammunition; felon in possession of a firearm; armed career criminal in possession of a firearm; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence; conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; distributing a controlled substance; and tampering with a witness. (See the attached chart for a breakdown of charges by defendant. Note, until such time as defendants make their initial appearances in federal court, their names and the specific charges levied against them will not be disclosed.)

If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum sentence of between 20 years and life in federal prison. Since the federal justice system does not have parole, prison terms would be served virtually in entirety. All sentences will ultimately be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of a long-term, cross-jurisdictional investigation conducted by local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement officers dedicated to making our streets and communities safer. They include the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; the Carlton County, Minn., Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI-funded Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force; the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department; the Minneapolis Police Department; the Minnesota Department of Corrections; and the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force.

These agencies investigated this case with assistance from—in alphabetical order—the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the Carlton County Attorney’s Office, the Cass County Attorney’s Office, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office of Wisconsin, the Duluth Police Department, the Fon du Lac Tribal Police Department, the Fridley Police Department, the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, the Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, the LCO Reservation Police Department, the Lower Sioux Tribal Police Department, the Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Mille Lacs County Attorney’s Office, the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office, the New Brighton Police Department, the North Central Drug Task Force, the Prior Lake Police Department, the Red Lake Tribal Police Department, the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office, Richfield Police Department, the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Minneapolis Violent Offender Task Force, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the White Earth Tribal Police Department.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and Steven L. Schleicher.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.