LAWFUEL – Legal Newswire – Eighteen members and associates of a La Puente-based street gang – including the alleged Mexican Mafia member who controlled its drug-trafficking operations – were arrested this morning by federal and local law enforcement authorities who executed dozens of search warrants across the San Gabriel Valley.
Culminating a four-month federal investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mexican Mafia member Rafael Munoz Gonzalez (also known as “Cisco”) and members of the Puente 13 gang were taken into custody pursuant to a grand jury indictment and a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court.
The investigation, which was started as local investigation in April 2007 by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, examined the methamphetamine trafficking operations of Puente 13. The investigation started about the same time that Gonzalez was released from prison and took control of Puente 13 drug operations by “taxing” members and associates of the gang who distributed methamphetamine.
In December, the DEA; the United States Attorney’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and the LASD created a task force to target the methamphetamine and firearms trafficking activities of the Puente 13 street gang, which is allegedly responsible for distributing multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine, a portion of which is produced locally in clandestine laboratories. Members of the gang also allegedly sold cocaine, marijuana and oxycodone in Los Angeles, Alaska, Seattle, Arizona and North Carolina.
“Street gangs, and the drugs and guns they employ, continue to wreak havoc within our communities,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Today’s arrests will severely disrupt firearms and methamphetamine trafficking operations in the San Gabriel Valley. Through the cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement, the core leadership of this street gang will now be brought to justice.”
This morning’s operation targeted 30 individuals. A total of 18 were arrested, two were already in custody, and 10 are fugitives.
Those arrested this morning are:
Andy Villa (aka Shadow), 27, of Glendora;
John Antonio Dacosta, 28, of Whittier;
Lorraine Christina Lopez, 34, of La Puente;
Josue Deloen (aka Josh, Purple Lips and Juicy Lips), 26, of La Puente;
Rene Valdez, 39, of La Puente;
Hoia Thanh Nguyen (aka Y), 32, of El Monte;
Steven Mark Mancha (aka Dirt Rock and Tight Shirt), 34, of Whittier;
Ernest George Mancha, 34, of Whittier;
Rafael Mungoz Gonzalez (aka Cisco), 38, of La Puente;
Michael Anthony Ortega (aka Temper), 35, of La Puente;
Steven Burgan (aka Gaucho), 25, of La Puente;
Wayne Arthur Goik (aka Zambrano), 59, of West Covina;
Noel Gonzalez (aka Big Noel), 56, of La Puente;
Noel Gonzalez III (aka Little Noel), 35, of La Puente;
Lenny Robert Casas (aka Little Dude), 18, of Whitter;
Henry Collao (aka Funny), 20, of La Puente;
Joventino Garcia III, 18, of La Puente; and
Antonio Torres (aka Tony Tough), 20, of Phoenix (who was arrested in Arizona).
The defendants arrested in Los Angeles are making their initial court appearances today in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
The two already in custody are:
Cesar Luis Torres, 25, who is in a Los Angeles County jail; and
Edward Martin Dominguez (aka Charger), 31, who is in an Orange County jail.
The 10 defendants still being sought by authorities are:
David Ortega (aka No-No), 22;
Javier Gabriel Moralez (aka Little Javi), 22;
Aaron Armando Torres, 25;
Xavier (last name unknown);
John (last name unknown);
Gabriel Richardo Aldana (aka Weasel), 27;
Richard Cesar Teran (aka Spider and Spanks), 19;
Joseph Anthony Garcia (aka Denies), 20; and
Erin Nicole Mancha.
“Joint investigations including federal and local law enforcement are essential when dealing with long-entrenched gangs that operate both in prison and on the streets,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “The federal charges in this case, and the lengthy mandatory minimum sentences they carry, will take gang leaders out of the community and put them into federal prison, improving safety and making a difference in the lives of local residents.”
Members of the task force also executed 35 federal search warrants, which yielded one pound of methamphetamine, 20 pounds of marijuana and 16 firearms.
The DEA and the LASD received significant contributions to this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation from the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT), the Pomona Police Department, the West Covina Police Department and the Juneau (Alaska) Police Department.