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Longtime Mexican Mafia boss found guilty in federal racketeering case

January 14, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Longtime Mexican Mafia boss found guilty in federal racketeering case

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A jury has found the 73-year-old boss of the Mexican Mafia in California guilty of federal racketeering charges in federal district court in Santa Ana on Wednesday.

Prosecutors argued that Peter Sana Ojeda maintained power and control of the gang’s criminal activities in the local neighborhoods and in the California state prisons while he was serving his jail term in a federal prison on the east coast.

It would be Ojeda’s second conviction as the boss of the Orange County’s Mexican Mafia known also as La Eme, which could see him finish out the rest of his days behind bars.

The jury also found Ojeda’s girlfriend, 53-year-old Susan Rodriguez, who prosecutors accused of being the go-between Sana and local gang members, guilty.

Both defendants were convicted on charges including conspiracy to commit murder, drug extortion and drug trafficking. Ojeda and Rodriguez face maximum life prison sentences.

Over two dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, who spent a decade building cases against Sana and his allies, hailed the verdicts as a major victory against Southern California’s most feared criminal organization,

According to the Orange County Register, the courtroom had every seat filled as the U.S. District Judge James V. Selna read the verdict.

“Today’s decision demonstrates our ongoing commitment to using all available tools to dismantle the Mexican Mafia and the street gangs associated with it,” United States Attorney Eileen Decker said to reporters after the verdict. She added, “No one associated with the Mexican Mafia, is beyond the reach of the law.”

Prosecutors said Ojeda maintained unmatched power among Orange County gang members for more than 30 years, and not even a 2006 federal racketeering conviction could loosen Ojeda’s grip on leadership.

Federal law enforcement officials believed they had ended Ojeda’s reign as boss of the syndicate, after shipping him off to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, which is located three time zones away.

However, prosecutors said between 2006 and 2011 he continued to direct criminal activities from behind bars with the help of Rodriguez, who acted as Ojeda’s eyes and ears in Orange County.

“In the Southern California gang world, it a well-known fact that Orange County belongs to Peter Ojeda,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph McNally told the jury during opening statements back on Nov. 13th.

U.S. Prosecutors said Sana-Ojeda couldn’t face the prospect of losing control of the Orange County-based Mexican Mafia and set in motion an elaborate plan to continue to be the head shot caller from his prison cell in Pennsylvania.

Former allies Peter Sana Ojeda and Armando Moreno fought a bitter dispute over control of the Mexican Mafia

Former allies Peter Sana Ojeda and Armando Moreno fought a bitter dispute over control of the Mexican Mafia, Moreno would end up cooperating with authorities against Ojeda.

“He could have moved on to a new chapter of his life, but he refused to let go of power,” McNally said after the judge had read the verdict.

The decision marks the culmination of a joint investigation called “Operation Black Flag,” involving local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the indictments of Ojeda and 59 alleged members and associates of the powerful, prison-based gang.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office charged another 40 suspects with gang-related crimes.

Law enforcement officials describe Ojeda as a charismatic leader, who first came into the public’s eye in the early 90s when he was at the forefront of an effort to put an end to the rash of drive-by shootings in local neighborhoods.

Several years later Ojeda pleaded guilty to charges listed in a federal racketeering indictment and was sent to serve his sentence in Lewisburg, Pa.

Prosecutors presented taped jailhouse phone conversations and relied on witness testimony from informants and former gang members during the trial, to paint a glimpse into the secret world of the leadership of the Mexican Mafia.

The prosecution said the crime group would commit extortion, through what the members call “taxing” drug dealers and would maintain command of much of the gang activity on the streets or in prisons from behind bars.

The government’s case primarily centered on an alleged power struggle that took place between Ojeda and Armando Moreno, 44, a former longtime ally within the gang.

The alliance broke down after Sana-Ojeda had accused Moreno of asserting control within local jails without his direct permission.

Prosecutors said Ojeda eventually won the struggle for power over Moreno, with the backing of several other Mexican Mafia leaders from Los Angeles.

Moreno would end up cooperating with authorities and testified against his former mentor. He said during testimony that Ojeda was one of several gang bosses who endorsed Moreno for entry as a “made” member of the Mexican Mafia.

Peter Sana seen in this photo while in federal prison

Image shows Peter Sana second (l) seen in federal prison

Moreno claimed that during a meeting at a federal holding facility right after Ojeda’s racketeering conviction in 2006, the 73-year-old gang boss tapped him to oversee all the Orange County gang activity on Ojeda’s behalf after he was shipped out of state.

Additional gang members to take the stand testified against Ojeda included Glenn Navarro, who testified he helped run the streets of Orange County and collect “taxes” from drug dealers and gang members who weren’t following Mexican Mafia’s rules.

Navarro testified that Ojeda controlled who would lead the local crew and provided direction from jail.

Also testifying against Ojeda and Rodriguez was Oscar Moriel, an informant and former Mexican Mafia member who served time in the local jails during the turmoil created by the power struggle.

Ojeda’s attorney Craig Wilke denied the allegations laid out in the prosecution’s case, and argued that overzealous federal authorities falsely made his client the focus of the investigation, which began in 2007, who at the time remained in prison and under 24-hour surveillance.

Wilke said gang members like Navarro used Ojeda’s name to further his criminal enterprises and to protect them against reprisal.

During closing arguments on Friday, Wilke asked the jury to discount testimony from Navarro and other gang members, who the attorney noted are longtime drug users and known criminals.

Rodriguez’s attorney Karen Kenney also denied the government’s charges, arguing that her client was in a romantic relationship with Ojeda, not serving as a pipeline to transmit Mexican Mafia orders.

After the proceedings, Kenney said she planned to appeal the conviction. “It’s just one of those cases where, in my opinion, the system let her down,” Kenney said outside of the courthouse following the verdict.

Ojeda, attorney, declined to comment. The judge set a sentencing for May 9th.

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