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.


Edward Schlacht Charged for Allegedly Hiring Illegal Aliens

November 29, 2011

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on November 29, 2011 released the following:

“DETROIT — A manager at a specialty pallet and box manufacturing company in northwest Detroit was arrested Tuesday by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on criminal charges of knowingly accepting false documentation in the course of hiring undocumented workers.

Edward Schlacht, 48, a supervisor at Grigg Box Company in Detroit, was taken into custody Tuesday morning without incident by ICE HSI special agents.

“Employers who evade the law not only fuel the demand that is responsible for much of the country’s illegal immigration, but their actions also hurt lawful workers who are seeking jobs in this challenging economy,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit. “Criminal prosecutions are just one of many tools HSI is using to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect job opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce.”

As part of the enforcement action, agents also executed a federal search warrant at the business seeking evidence in this ongoing investigation into the company’s hiring practices. Schlacht is charged in a criminal complaint with continuing to employ unauthorized aliens. The arrest is the culmination of an investigation that began in February when an ICE HSI audit of the company’s hiring records identified 35 employees who used suspected counterfeit documents to obtain their jobs.

According to the court documents, after ICE HSI notified the company about the suspicious documents, Grigg Box Company sent a written reply advising the employees in question had been terminated. Subsequently, investigators conducting surveillance of the premises, observed several of the “terminated” employees continuing to work at the company. Additionally, through the use confidential informants, ICE HSI special agents recorded Schlacht in the process of hiring two individuals who admitted their documents were counterfeit and had been purchased. This individual was later paid by Schlacht in the form of an official payroll check from the company.

Schlacht is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday afternoon. The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual’s identity and employment eligibility documents and determine whether the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work on the Form I-9.

Nationally in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, ICE:

  • Conducted 2,496 I-9 audits, up from 503 in FY 2008;
  • Initiated 3,291 worksite enforcement cases, up from 1,191 in FY 2008;
  • Criminally arrested 221 employers, up from 135 in FY 2008;
  • Issued 385 Final Orders for $10,463,987 in fines, up from 18 Final Orders for $675,209 in fines in FY 2008; and
  • Debarred 115 individuals and 97 businesses, compared to 0 individuals and 0 businesses in FY 2008.”
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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.


ICE ‘most wanted’ fugitive indicted for human trafficking

September 30, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“TAMPA, Fla. – A former fugitive on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) list of most wanted criminals was indicted Thursday on four counts of conspiracy to entice a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, four counts of enticing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, three counts of production of child pornography, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Eric Antwan Bell, 37, was featured in June on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” He was arrested Aug. 31 in Parsippany, N.J. by ICE HSI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

According to the indictment, Bell, along with a co-conspirator, enticed four minor victims to engage in prostitution. Bell and his co-conspirator lived off of the prostitution proceeds. Bell produced child pornography of the four minors and possessed multiple firearms after being convicted of a felony offense.

The indictment notifies Bell that the United States intends to forfeit numerous items of electronic media and firearms seized from his residence.

This case was investigated by the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force, ICE HSI and the FBI. Other task force members include state and local law enforcement agencies and non-governmental partners.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie B. Harris will prosecute the case.”

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.

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