Mexican Mafia’s Top Lieutenant Pleads Guilty in US Court
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
A top lieutenant to a Mexican Mafia member who controlled Hispanic street gangs across Orange County pleaded guilty today to federal charges, admitting that he conspired with others to violate federal racketeering laws.
Thirty-three year old Marco Diaz of Santa Ana, CA, became the 28th defendant indicted to be convicted of federal RICO charges. Diaz, one of two top assistants to Mexican Mafia member Peter Ojeda, helped Ojeda’s organization extort “taxes” from street gangs and ordered punishment to those who did not pay.
Ojeda, 64, of La Habra, pleaded guilty on September 12. Both Diaz and Ojeda pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and conspiring to distribute narcotics. Both men, who pleaded guilty before United States District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana, face potential life sentences. Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2007, while Ojeda is scheduled to appear before Judge Carter for sentencing on December 18.
The 28 defendants in this case were indicted by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana in June 2005. The evidence in the case showed that the Ojeda Organization engaged in extortion and assault, as well as assisting in the distribution of narcotics throughout Orange County, CA.
The Ojeda Organization included high-ranking members of several Hispanic street gangs, which helped the organization exert its influence across Orange County and into the Orange County jail system and California prisons.
Sixteen of the defendants were charged with and have pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge. The indictment alleged dozens of overt acts that members of the organization committed to expand the power and control of the enterprise. Detailing conduct in 2004 and early 2005, the RICO count outlined how Ojeda and his assistants demanded taxes from numerous street gangs and others who wanted to distribute drugs in Orange County.
The Ojeda Organization coordinated the collection of taxes from jail inmates who were selling drugs, and it ordered assaults on those who failed to pay taxes or showed disrespect to the organization.
The Ojeda Organization required Hispanic criminal street gangs in Orange County to pay money as a “tax” or “tribute” on a regular basis. The Ojeda Organization permitted the tax-paying gangs and gang members to exert influence over their neighborhoods and territories.
The Ojeda Organization disciplined Orange County criminal street gangs and their members who engaged in unsanctioned violence, such as a drive-by shooting, which could cause increased law enforcement attention and thereby threaten the income of the Ojeda Organization.
The other top lieutenant of the organization, Jose Becerra, 38, of Placentia, pleaded guilty on August 14 to the RICO conspiracy count. Becerra, who faces up to 20 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Carter on November 13.
Of the other 25 defendants, 17 have been sentenced. Judge Carter has imposed penalties ranging from 24 to 292 months in federal prison.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Santa Ana Gang Task Force, which is made up of officers from the Santa Ana Police Department and special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.