Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Indictments reveal Mexican mafia has Italian mob like hierarchy

It was the day after Christmas 2010 when Eberardo Diaz walked toward Jaime Torres inside Theo Lacy jail, and then, officials believe, slashed him with a knife he had smuggled in.
On New Year's Eve that year, inmates in Theo Lacy found Joseph Baez and began beating him until deputies intervened.
Gang crimes on the street and assaults behind bars can appear to be haphazard, ruthless, aimless violence. But indictments unsealed this week paint a different picture of crime and violence in Orange County, where the sale of drugs is regulated, where violent gangs adhere to rules and orders. Superiors are respected. Rule breakers are disciplined. And what may seem like random mayhem is controlled by two men hundreds of miles away.
Law enforcement officials unsealed indictments naming nearly 100 people who they allege are gangsters and members of the notorious Mexican Mafia, who through violence and control of Orange County jails exerted their influence over Latino gangs on the streets.
Pulling the strings, according to the indictments, were Peter Ojeda, 68, and Armando Moreno, in his 30s: two men who law enforcement officials said once worked together to manage gangs throughout the county, but by 2009 began fighting for power.
At stake in the struggle was an unknown amount of cash that was paid regularly by Latino gangs to the Mexican Mafia, or "La Eme." The "tax" or "tribute" was paid in order for the gang to control their respective neighborhoods. In return, members of La Eme guaranteed protection – as long as they followed their rules.
According to the indictment, that structure began to deteriorate inside Orange County's Mexican Mafia faction.
Peter Ojeda was an old face to gangs in the county, known as "The Senor," "The Big Homie" and "Viejo." In 2005, he was indicted on racketeering charges, and he was in federal prison Oct. 24, 2007, when he sent a letter to an associate, letting him know that Moreno – a previous partner – was no longer authorized to conduct business on his behalf, according to the indictment.
Law enforcement officials close to the investigation said a rift built between the two men and a series of reprisals began, with each side ordering murders and assaults on supporters of the other. The officials asked that they not be named because of safety concerns.
According to the indictment, Ojeda tried to lay out the command structure on May 20, 2008, to associates on the streets and in jails. Tyrone Christopher Rye, known as "Thumper," sent a message letting people know he was in charge of controlling O.C. jails on behalf of Ojeda, and Donald Edward Aguilar, or "Sluggo," was in charge of the streets.
And the structure changed at the direction from the top, according to court papers. In March 9, 2009, Michael Sancen took control of the jail for Ojeda.
The charges allege that Sancen brought two things with him when he took control – heroin for inmates and a list of people who were to be killed.
In their 32-month-long investigation, law enforcement officials said they were able to gain a glimpse into the inner workings of the Mexican Mafia and their politics.
Following a strict code of enforcement, Ojeda placed a "green light" – meaning physical punishment – on a Santa Ana gang that failed to pay its "taxes." Moreno, who authorities said was looking to strengthen his hold on the organization, was recorded in a telephone call talking about the decision.
That same day, Rye and Nancy Osorio, both of whom face federal racketeering charges, talked over the phone about the power struggle that was developing between Ojeda, who was in federal prison in Pennsylvania, and Moreno, who was in custody in Tehachapi state prison in Kern County.
But business continued as usual. On June 9, 2009, Glenn Navarro and Joseph Lara, both charged in the indictment, talked on the phone about "taxing" another Santa Ana street gang because they had participated in a shooting.
According to detectives close to the investigation, Ojeda has strict rules regarding shootings on the streets. Violating his ban on drive-by shootings meant a $1,000 to $10,000 penalty for gangs. The investigators said that to their knowledge, Ojeda has never authorized a drive-by shooting while in control.
But the fight between Ojeda and Moreno, also known as "Mando," intensified in the summer of 2009.
On June 24, 2009, the indictment states, members of two Santa Ana gangs were ordered to be physically attacked because they were supporters of Ojeda. Edward Aguilar, Joseph Lara and Robert Viramontes were also placed on a "Hard Candy" list, meaning they were to be killed.
Three days later, Eduard Padilla and Salvador Mendoza, who authorities allege is a member of one of the gangs, were attacked under Moreno's orders, according to the indictment.
By July, a confidential informant told authorities that Moreno ordered the death of anyone who had supported Ojeda. On July 4, supporters of Moreno were recorded planning out who should fill the void of leadership under Moreno's control, the indictment read.
But Ojeda continued to exert control, the indictments show, and in July 28, 2009, Rye tried to send a message out to Mexican Mafia associates that Ojeda was still in control, and that those who didn't drop their support for Moreno would find themselves on the "Hard Candy" hit list.
The assaults and attacks continued through the summer, with each side attacking the other, indictments and interviews show. During each attack, Moreno and Ojeda each appeared to have targeted only those who supported the other's opponent.
Law enforcement officials said they didn't target each other because, as associates of the Mexican Mafia, they had to be given authorization to kill another member.
Lists continued to be sent and changed. In Nov. 18, 2009, a new "Hard Candy" list from Moreno surfaced in Orange County Jail. Underlings continued to be confused as to who really had control.
The fight continued through 2010, with members of the Mexican Mafia in Los Angeles traveling to Orange County to discuss the state of the organization. In a meeting in 2010, according to the indictment, high-ranking members of La Eme in O.C. and Los Angeles met and decided Ojeda was still the leader.
On April 30, 2011, Ojeda was recorded talking with Alberto Vargas and Suzie Rodriguez, the indictment reads. In that conversation, according to the indictment, Ojeda told Vargas to get the word out: "Moreno is to be killed."
Today, Moreno is in Theo Lacy jail on racketeering charges. Ojeda is in a federal prison in Colorado.



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