LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – A Mexican Mafia member who controlled Hispanic street gangs that operated across Orange County was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating federal racketeering and narcotics laws.
Peter Ojeda, 64, of La Habra, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana.
Ojeda pleaded guilty on September 12 to conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and conspiring to distribute narcotics. A total of 28 people linked to the Ojeda Organization have now been convicted, either by guilty plea or following a trial.
One of Ojeda’s top lieutenants was sentenced this morning by Judge Carter to 37 months in prison. Jose Becerra, 39, of Placentia, pleaded guilty on August 14 to the RICO conspiracy count.
The members and associates of the Ojeda Organization were indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2005. The Ojeda Organization engaged in extortion and assault, as well as assisting in the distribution of narcotics throughout Orange County. The Ojeda Organization included high-ranking members of several Hispanic street gangs, which helped the organization exert its influence across Orange County and into the Orange County jail system and California prisons.
The indictment alleged dozens of overt acts committed by members of the organization to expand the power and control of the enterprise. Detailing conduct in 2004 and early 2005, the RICO count outlined how Ojeda and his assistants demanded taxes from numerous street gangs and others who wanted to distribute drugs in Orange County. The Ojeda Organization coordinated the collection of taxes from jail inmates who were selling drugs, and it ordered assaults on those who failed to pay taxes or showed disrespect to the organization.
The Ojeda Organization required Hispanic criminal street gangs in Orange County to pay money as a “tax” or “tribute” on a regular basis. The Ojeda Organization permitted the tax-paying gangs and gang members to exert influence over their neighborhoods and territories. The Ojeda Organization disciplined Orange County criminal street gangs and their members who engaged in unsanctioned violence, such as a drive-by shooting, which could cause increased law enforcement attention and thereby threaten the income of the Ojeda Organization.
Ojeda’s other top lieutenant, Marco Diaz, 33, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to a RICO charge in September. Diaz, who admitted that he helped Ojeda’s organization extort “taxes” from street gangs and ordered punishment to those who did not pay, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Carter on January 8.
Of the 23 defendants already sentenced, Judge Carter has imposed penalties ranging from 24 to 292 months in federal prison.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Santa Ana Gang Task Force, which is made up of officers from the Santa Ana Police Department and special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Douglas F. McCormick
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