Mexican Mafia Kingpin and Underlings Headed for Prison
by Jim Kouri
A top Mexican Mafia member, who controlled Hispanic street gangs that operated across Orange County, CA, was sentenced on December 18 to 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating federal racketeering and narcotics laws.
Peter Ojeda, 64, was sentenced by United States District Judge David Carter in a packed Santa Ana courtroom.
Ojeda pleaded guilty on September 12 to conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and conspiring to distribute narcotics. A total of 28 people linked to the Ojeda Organization have now been convicted, either by guilty plea or following a trial.
One of Ojeda's top lieutenants was also sentenced on December 18 by Judge Carter to 37 months in prison. Jose Becerra, 39, pleaded guilty on August 14 to the RICO conspiracy count.
The members and associates of the Ojeda Organization were indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2005. The Ojeda Organization engaged in extortion and assault, as well as assisting in the distribution of narcotics throughout Orange County.
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.
The indictment alleged dozens of overt acts committed by members of the organization 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. They permitted the tax-paying gangs and gang members to exert influence over their neighborhoods and territories. The group often 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 gang.
Ojeda's other top lieutenant, Marco Diaz, 33, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to a RICO charge in September. Diaz, who admitted that he helped Ojeda's organization extort "taxes" from street gangs and ordered punishment to those who did not pay, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Carter on January 8, 2007.
Of the 23 defendants already sentenced, Judge Carter has imposed penalties ranging from 24 to 292 months in federal prison.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. 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 a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. 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, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.