LOS ANGELES – LawFuel.com – A Baldwin Park man and former 18th Street gang member pleaded guilty today to a federal drug trafficking offense and admitted that he was the triggerman in the previously unsolved 2006 murder of a person who had failed to pay “taxes” to a member of the Mexican Mafia.
Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, 39, pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in relation to a case that targeted the San Gabriel Valley-based Puente-13 gang. In addition to participating in drug trafficking activities that include collecting “taxes” or “rent” on behalf of the Mexican Mafia member who controlled Puente-13, Garcia admitted that he murdered another gang member who failed to pay to make those extortion payments.
In his plea agreement, Garcia admitted that in 2006 he and two members of Puente-13 lured another gang member to an apartment complex, where Garcia “shot the victim…in the head with a pistol,” an execution that constituted pre-meditated first-degree murder. Garcia was acting at the behest of leaders of Puente-13, who targeted the victim, a Valinda man named David Dragna, because Dragna was suspected of taking drug money that was intended for the Mexican Mafia.
Garcia’s guilty plea is pursuant to an agreement in which federal prosecutors have agreed with the defense to jointly seek a sentence of between 18 years and 24 years in federal prison.
Garcia pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on January 25, 2016.
Two members of Puente-13 have previously been convicted of participating in Dragna’s murder. Angel “Smiley” Torres, 39, and Steven “Flaco” Nunez, 36, each pleaded guilty in federal court. Torres was sentenced to 186 months in prison, and Nunez was sentenced to 10 years. The Dragna murder was unsolved prior to a federal racketeering indictment that was unsealed in June 2010.
The Mexican Mafia member who controlled the Puente-13 gang and his brother were sentenced in 2013 to life in federal prison after being convicted at trial for their roles in leading a wide-ranging Puente-13 drug and murder conspiracy (see: http://go.usa.gov/3eyKj).
The investigation into the Puente-13 criminal enterprise and the murder of Dragna was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department.