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.


Bobby Cruz Charged in an Eight-Count Federal Indictment Wednesday by a Federal Grand Jury in the Northern District of Illinois Alleging that he was Producing Child Pornography, Crossed State Lines to Engage in a Sexual Act with a Minor, Transporting Child Pornography, and Possessing Child Pornography

December 2, 2011
Bobby Cruz

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on December 1, 2011 released the following:

“Chicago-area man indicted for allegedly manufacturing child pornography, crossing state lines for sex with minor

CHICAGO – A local man who was arrested last month for allegedly transporting child pornography via computer, was indicted on new charges alleging that he manufactured child pornography involving at least three minor victims. The indictment was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Gary J. Hartwig, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago.

Bobby Cruz, 32, of Des Plaines, Ill., was charged in an eight-count indictment Wednesday by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois. Cruz was charged with four counts of producing child pornography by enticing minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct, one count of crossing state lines to engage in a sexual act with a minor under 12, two counts of transporting child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography.

Cruz was ordered to remain in federal custody without bond after his Nov. 1 arrest. He was initially charged with a single count of transporting child pornography after federal agents allegedly discovered illegal images on his home computer. A subsequent investigation, which resulted in the discovery of additional child victims, resulted in the new charges alleging molestation and production of child pornography.

While announcing the indictment, law enforcement officials provided the media with a photograph of Cruz in an effort to solicit information from the public pertaining to any suspicious contact that Cruz might have had with any unknown minor victims. Anyone with such information is encouraged to contact ICE HSI Special Agent Jennifer Sapper at 630-574-4941.

The Des Plaines Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office assisted in the investigation.

According to the four manufacturing counts, Cruz allegedly produced child pornography involving at three least minor victims between September 2007 and June 2009 in Des Plaines, Ill. and between March 2008 and June 2009 in Morris, Ill. The charges allege that in each of the four instances, Cruz persuaded, induced, and enticed a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. On Oct. 22, 2010, Cruz allegedly crossed state lines to molest a minor less than 12 years of age.

The remaining counts allege that Cruz transmitted and possessed child pornography between September and November 2011. The initial complaint against Cruz alleged that on Sept. 14 he sent an email to an undercover ICE agent with an attached zip file containing about 100 images of child pornography. The investigation began when agents learned that the same email account, allegedly identified later as belonging to Cruz, was used to trade hundreds of child pornography images with an unnamed individual in December 2010. ICE agents subsequently linked the email account to Cruz’s residence. On Nov. 1, agents executed a search warrant and seized a laptop computer, an external hard-drive, and other items allegedly containing numerous images and videos of alleged child pornography. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the computer equipment and other seized items.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Levin, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting this case.

Crossing state lines to engage in a sexual act with a minor under 12 carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum of life in prison. Each of the four counts of manufacturing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison. Transporting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count; and possessing child pornography carries a 10-year maximum prison term. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.”

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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.


Former Sheriff Deputy Christopher Thomas Davis Arrested for Allegedly Producing Child Pornography

August 26, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on August 25, 2011 released the following:

“Former Georgia sheriff deputy arrested for production of child pornography involving a 7-year-old

GAINESVILLE, Ga. – A former White County, Ga., sheriff’s deputy was arrested for producing child pornography Thursday morning, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

In May 2009, Christopher Thomas Davis, 32, of Dahlonega, Ga., took photographs of a 7-year-old female engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Photographs of the minor were taken inside of Davis’ home in Dahlonega. At that time, and at the time of his arrest, Davis was employed as a sheriff’s deputy with the White County Sheriff’s Office. Davis has since been terminated from his law enforcement position.

“ICE HSI will aggressively use its broad investigative authorities to identify and arrest any individual who seeks to sexually exploit children in this manner,” said Brock Nicholson, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Atlanta. “This case is especially disappointing given the defendant held a position of public trust.”

The investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Jill E. Steinberg is prosecuting the case. Davis’ detention hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List 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.

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Mohamed Ali Arrested by ICE Agents for Allegedly Streaming Live Copyrighted Sporting Events Over the Internet Illegally

August 24, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on August 23, 2011 released the following:

“HSI agents arrest website operator for illegally streaming copyrighted sporting events

NEW YORK — A Queens man, who allegedly streamed live copyrighted sporting events over the Internet illegally, was arrested this morning by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Mohamed Ali, 19, of Hollis, N.Y., was taken into custody at his home and charged with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright. He was the operator of HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET. Both of those domain names were seized by HSI on Feb. 1, 2011, as part of an ongoing HSI investigation into websites that illegally streamed copyrighted sporting telecasts and pay-per-view events.

The investigation into Ali revealed he made more than $6,000 in profits from online merchants who paid subscription fees to view copyrighted material. Since the seizure, both sites have received more than 50,000 hits combined.

“Today’s arrest sends a clear message to website operators who mistakenly believe it’s worth the risk to take copyrighted programming and portray it as their own,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Protecting legitimate business interests are a priority for HSI, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and our law enforcement partners. We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen content for their own profit.”

According to the criminal complaint and seizure affidavit unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, from approximately February 2010 to January 2011, Mohamed Ali used HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET to allegedly infringe on copyrighted material from the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Ultimate Fighting Championship and (UFC) and boxing events for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain.

Visitors to HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET paid a subscription fee of $6, $12 and up to $25 to click on one of a number of links to begin the process of downloading or streaming illegal broadcasts of sporting events to their computers. During the investigation leading to the Feb. 1, 2011, seizures, HSI agents downloaded portions of live and taped copyrighted telecasts of these events from HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET.

Ali registered the HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET domain names in February 2010 and operated the websites until the time of their seizure out of his home in Hollis.

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit http://www.IPRCenter.gov.

This case is being handled by the Complex Frauds Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Frey is in charge of the prosecution.

The charge contained in the complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List 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.

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Manuel A. Munoz-Duran Charged in a Federal Criminal Complaint With Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Distribute

July 18, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of New Mexico on July 15, 2011 released the following:

“OHKAY OWINGEH RESIDENT CHARGED WITH FEDERAL COCAINE TRAFFICKING OFFENSE

ALBUQUERQUE – This morning in federal court in Albuquerque, a United States Magistrate Judge found that there was probable cause to support a criminal complaint charging Manuel A. Munoz-Duran, 48, with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. MunozDuran, a Mexican resident, resides within the boundaries of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, but is not a member of the pueblo. If convicted, Munoz-Duran faces a maximum penalty of twenty years’ imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine. Munoz-Duran entered a not guilty plea during this morning’s proceedings, and waived his right to a detention hearing. He is detained pending trial.

United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Munoz-Duran was arrested as part of an investigation brought pursuant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Safe Trails/Safe Pueblos Initiative and Southwest HIDTA’s Native American Project (NAP) funded through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Through these two initiatives, federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies work together to promote a comprehensive law enforcement and community supported partnership that seeks to eliminate drug trafficking and substance abuse in the Pueblos of Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh and Pojoaque, which are located in New Mexico’s Espanola Valley.

According to the criminal complaint, on July 5, 2011, New Mexico State Police officers executed a search at Munoz-Duran’s residence in the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, in Rio Arriba County. During the search, the officers found over 14 ounces of cocaine in Munoz-Duran’s basement. In addition, officers found narcotics trafficking paraphernalia and firearms ammunition on Munoz-Duran’s property.

This case was investigated by the FBI, the Espanola Police Department, New Mexico State Police, and Immigration Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Baker.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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

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

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