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.


Seven Members, Associates, and Leaders of Folk Nation Gang Indicted for Alleged Racketeering and Murder

February 1, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 31, 2012 released the following:

Additional Charges Include Robbery, Assault, Illegal Use of Firearms, and Related Crimes

A superseding indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn this morning charging seven members, associates, and leaders of the violent Brooklyn street gang “Six Tre Outlaw Gangsta Disciples Folk Nation,” also known as the “Folk Nation.” The 16-count indictment charges the defendants with violent crimes including racketeering, murder in-aid-of racketeering, murder conspiracy, attempted murder, robbery, assault, and illegal use of firearms.[1] Two defendants will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn D. Go at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. The defendants face sentences up to life imprisonment if convicted.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department. As detailed in the indictment and other court filings submitted by the government, a two-year joint investigation by the FBI and the NYPD revealed that since 2008, a violent set of the Folk Nation gang committed numerous crimes of violence including four murders, three attempted murders, two assaults, and six robberies. The gang was based in the Ebbets Field Houses, a New York City public housing community, although its criminal activities extended into the Tri-State area.

The gang is alleged to have used extreme and indiscriminate violence to further its objectives. The defendants’ victims include a 10-year-old girl, who was severely injured when she was shot in the neck by gang members while they were attempting to murder a rival. The gang is alleged to have committed four murders, in an effort to assert its power over the neighborhoods in which it operated. On at least two occasions, gang members missed their intended targets and hit innocent bystanders—after one murder at a teenager’s birthday party in an Ebbets Field apartment, gang members acknowledged that they had killed the wrong person.

In order to fund its illegal activities, members of the gang allegedly committed violent robberies of individuals and commercial establishments. Members of the gang are alleged to have robbed the Lee Perla jewelry store at the Riverside Square Mall in Hackensack, New Jersey, making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of luxury watches. According to the indictment, the gang also targeted individual robbery victims, whom they lured to secluded areas in Brooklyn, via Internet advertisements on Craigslist, and then robbed at gunpoint. According to a detention memorandum filed by the government, the charged murders and other acts of violence took place on public streets, in front of personal residences, and even on a playground, in Brooklyn neighborhoods.

The charges announced today are the latest in a series of federal indictments in this district charging members of violent street gangs with racketeering crimes.

“Motivated by greed, the Folk Nation employed indiscriminate violence to destroy the lives of their perceived enemies. But their violence spread beyond the gang world into the streets and playgrounds of Brooklyn, and innocent bystanders, including a child, were caught in the crossfire. Terrorizing a community, this gang claimed its turf by force and robbed from businesses and individuals alike leaving a trail of victims in its wake,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We are steadfast in our commitment to dismantling street gangs that put at risk the members of our community, and the seriousness of today’s charges reflect that commitment.”

“The reason the FBI places such a high priority on gang investigations is the extreme violence gangs so often commit. Here, as charged in the indictment, the defendants’ ruthlessness was matched by their recklessness. They allegedly showed no apparent concern for bystanders, and bystanders were seriously hurt as a consequence,” said Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk.

NYPD Commissioner Kelly stated, “Through a variety of partnerships, including clergy, the Brooklyn District Attorney, and in this case United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, the police department is suppressing crime in Brooklyn to the point where last year for the first time since 1963 murder in the Borough fell below 200. As charged in the indictment, members of the Folk Nation have been responsible for multiple murders and shootings, and their apprehension and prosecution should have a continued salutary effect for the residents in and around the Ebbets Field Houses.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Zainab Ahmad and Seth DuCharme.

The Defendants:

YASSA ASHBURN, also known as “Indio,” “Swirls,” and “Swerve”
Age: 28

HAILE CUMMINGS, also known as “Ruger” and “Rugah”
Age: 20

GERALDO ELAINOR, also known as “Gunny” and “Geraldo Casimir”
Age: 21

DANIEL HARRISON, also known as “Bones,”
Age: 24

RICKY HOLLENQUEST, also known as “Dancer”
Age: 20

JAMAL LAURENT, also known as “Tails” and “Gunner”
Age: 22

TREVELLE MERRITT, also known as “Tiger”
Age: 19

[1] The charges contained in the superseding indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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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 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.