Friday, February 22, 2013

High-Ranking Mexican Mafia Associate Sentenced in Stabbing and Drug Trafficking Case

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced that Robert Mercado, a high-ranking Mexican Mafia associate from San Diego, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia to 14 years in custody after Mercado pleaded guilty to violent crime in aid of racketeering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1959. Mercado was one of 360individuals arrested last year as part of Operation Carnalismo, an investigation that targeted the Mexican Mafia’s organized criminal activity. Operation Carnalismo was one of three similar investigations charged at the same time that focused on Mexican Mafia crime, which resulted in well over 100 arrests of local gang members and associates.
Court filings describe the Mexican Mafia as a notorious, violent prison gang that controls a large portion of the criminal activity committed by Southern California Hispanic street-gang members. The Mexican Mafia controls the criminal activity of its subsidiary gangs through the extortionate collection of the proceeds from other criminal activity, such as drug trafficking. These extortion payments, commonly referred to as “taxes,” are collected for the benefit of members by gang associates like Mercado. The Mexican Mafia and its associates engage in a variety of crime in order to maintain their presence in the criminal world, including murder, assault, kidnapping, extortion, and drug trafficking.
As part of his plea, Mercado admitted that he carried out a variety of crimes in support of the Mexican Mafia, including assault with a dangerous weapon (stabbing), drug trafficking, and extortion. Filings with the court revealed that Mercado was a trusted lieutenant to convicted Mexican Mafia Member Salvador Colabella. Colabella had several independent methamphetamine trafficking organizations under his command. Mercado and others took money and cars from a number of drug dealers through violence or the threat of violence. In one particular incident, Mercado admitted stabbing a drug dealer (and twisting the knife in order to maximize the damage) because he believed that the drug dealer was not properly paying taxes to Colabella. After the stabbing, Mercado and an associate sent a third member of their group to the hospital in order to prevent the injured drug dealer from speaking with the police. Adding insult to injury, Mercado and his associate further demanded that the drug dealer give them his car, which he did later that evening after being released from the hospital. As part of his plea, Mercado also admitted that he sold heroin that was provided to him by the same victim of his violent assault.
United States Attorney Duffy praised the members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crimes B Gang Group (VCTF-GG”, which led this investigation, for their continued, outstanding work in pursuit of Mexican Mafia crime. The VCTF-GG is a federal task force composed of investigators from the FBI, Bureau of Prisons, and the San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City Police Departments. Duffy added, “We will continue to work tirelessly in order to ensure that our neighborhoods remain safe from organized gang activity through the successful prosecutions of cases like this. Gang members must know that their actions have serious consequences under federal law.”
Defendant in Criminal Case No. 12CR290-AJB
Robert Mercado
Progress of Cases Charged as Part of Operation Carnalismo
Summary: As of February 15, 2013, 30 of 36 defendants have been convicted, and 12 of those 30 have been sentenced.
  • Salvadore Colabella—RICO conspiracy
  • Jose Luis Mercado—RICO conspiracy
  • Robert Mercado—violent crime in aid of racketeering (168 months in custody)
  • Maria de Jesus Claudia Ochoa—RICO conspiracy
  • Silvano Hernandez—RICO conspiracy
  • Jose Briseno-Contreras—RICO conspiracy (46 months in custody)
  • Ramon Agredano—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (84 months in custody)
  • Ricardo Cornejo—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (135 months in custody)
  • David York—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine Guillermo Chaidez—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (120 months in custody)
  • Adrian Dominguez—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Charles Smith—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Anna Sheneman—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (93 months in custody)
  • Esteban Rodriguez—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (60 months in custody)
  • Juan Guerrero—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (135 months in custody)
  • Jorge Moreno—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Eduardo Moreno—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (120 months in custody)
  • Allen Mundell—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Brett Youkel—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (120 months in custody)
  • Lacy McElroy—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (100 months in custody)
  • Alfredo Bazurto—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Charles Monroe—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Jose Pedro Covarrubias—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (120 months in custody)
  • George Chavez—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine Jose Esparza—Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • John Atkinson—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (120 months in custody)
  • Annabel Vasquez—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
  • Fantaja Deleal—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (78 months in custody)
  • Carlos Lozano—distribution of methamphetamine (57 months in custody)
Investigating Agencies
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Chula Vista Police Department
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
National City Police Department
San Diego Police Department
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
U.S. Bureau of Prisons
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
San Diego County Probation Department
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations
Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations

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