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Head of East Chicago Imperial Gangsters Avoids Death Penalty for Five Murders

March 10, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Head of East Chicago Imperial Gangsters Avoids Death Penalty for Five Murders

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A cold-blooded boss of a violent and feared East Chicago Street Gang was spared the death penalty after being found guilty of five murders, and instead will spend the rest his life in prison.

A jury found Juan “Tito” Briseno, who is one of the leaders of the Imperial Gangsters street gang, guilty in federal court to murder and racketeering charges.

Feds indicted Tito and 24 other members of the Imperial Gangsters on 13 murders spanning from Chicago to Gary, Indiana.

The indictment included a decade-long racketeering conspiracy that involved 19 additional attempted murders and the large scale distribution of cocaine and marijuana.

The jury found Briseno, 25, guilty of the following charges:

  • Five counts of murder in aid of racketeering.
  • One count of attempted murder in aid of racketeering.
  • One count of possession of firearms in connection with the attempted murder.
  • One count of RICO conspiracy.
  • A single count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and offenses related to the case.

Federal prosecutors say the Imperial Gangsters established a rule to shoot on sight any rival gang member or anyone selling narcotics in their territory, without the gang’s OK.

According to the indictment, the five murders were committed in accordance with the gang’s policies between 2007 and 2010. Prosecutors say Briseno exercised a key leadership role in the gang, in which he supervised soldiers, termed “shorties,” for the 149th Street Imperial Gangsters.

The jury found Briseno guilty of his direct involvement in the murders of Luiz Ortiz, Miguel Mejias, Michael Sessum, Miguel Colon and Latroy Hawkins.

Prosecutors said that the defendant knocked on the door of Luis Ortiz’s apartment in Hammond, Indiana and shot him dead in the as he stood in the doorway of his apartment.

Investigators said the Briseno shot Mejias and Sessum, who were unarmed, as they brought food back to their pregnant girlfriends.

Briseno fired multiple shots after entering the home of Mejias, one of the bullets hitting a female victim in the arm as she held her infant child.

Mejias had sent Briseno a message, insisting that he renounced his membership in the Latin Kings and didn’t want a problem. Briseno responded: “F*** him if he’s going to bring Latin Kings in our neighborhood.”

Briseno was found guilty of the June 2010 murder of Leroy Howard, who was killed for selling drugs in a neighborhood controlled by the Imperial Gangsters, without getting permission.

A video surveillance presented at the trial showed Briseno driving around the block in his car and then walking up on foot and shooting the unarmed Howard twice in the head at point-blank range.

A total of Twenty-three defendants out of twenty-five defendants entered guilty pleas in the case.

Briseno’s attorney, Arlington Foley, expressed a sigh of relief Monday that his client avoided the death penalty saying, “The jury did an outstanding job coming to its conclusions and verdicts in both the guilt phase and the penalty phase.”

Foley said they intended to appeal the decisions, but will wait until after sentencing, which is scheduled for June 15th.

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