Three SUR-13 Gang Members Found Guilty of Violent Crimes
by Jim Kouri, CPP
After a trial lasting about two weeks, a jury in federal district court returned guilty verdicts against Freddie Sandoval, 23, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, Angel Mazariegos, 24, of Doraville, Georgia, and Luis Nandy, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia, on federal charges relating to their violent criminal activity as members of a street gang known as "Surenos-13," or "SUR-13."
Kenneth A. Smith, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Atlanta said, "Vicious transnational criminal organizations like SUR-13 have terrorized our communities. Today's guilty verdicts should send the message that law enforcement is united in its efforts to protect our communities from those who seek to terrorize our law-abiding citizens. Let me be clear: we will use every law enforcement tool at our disposal to put gang members behind bars where they belong."
"The street gang known as SUR-13 was devoted to committing acts of violence, including the murders of innocent persons as well as drive-by shootings and armed robbery," said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias.
"The indictment broke the leadership structure of SUR-13, and the jury's verdicts today seal the end of this gang's reign of terror. Today's convictions should also have a chilling effect on persons who consider joining gangs and committing such crimes: They should know that we will devote federal resources to prosecute gangs and to protect the residents of North Georgia. With these convictions today and the previous convictions in this case, five defendants will be sentenced for three murders that occurred in Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Fulton Counties. Four of these defendants face life imprisonment without parole."
FBI Special Agent In Charge Greg Jones added, "The jury has sent a clear message that, as representatives of the community in this matter, they are resolved to restoring order to that community, an order that SUR-13 tried to take away. We appreciate the hard work and sacrifice made by the many people involved in today's guilty verdict and are confident that the streets are now safer as a result."
Sandoval, Mazariegos and Nandy were all convicted on charges of Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy. Sandoval was also convicted by the jury on charges of drug distribution, attempted drug distribution, and conspiracy to distribute drugs. However, Nandy was acquitted by the jury on those charges.
Meanwhile, the jury convicted Mazariegos on a charge of carjacking. The jury could not reach a verdict for him on the charges of Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.
In a previous trial that concluded on September 6, 2007, a jury found five members of SUR-13 guilty on charges of RICO conspiracy, Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering, possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and being an alien in possession of firearms. Four of them face sentences of up to life imprisonment.
According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented at trial: Sandoval was a leader of the youngest members of SUR-13, who were organized into a group called "Tiny Locos."
As a leader, Sandoval helped train new recruits of SUR-13-often as young as 13 years old-to break into cars to steal stereos, rob pedestrians at gunpoint, and engage in violent and often armed conflict with rival gang members.
In addition to participating in drive-by shootings and armed robberies, he engaged in the distribution of methamphetamine and marijuana. Mazariegos was involved with another SUR-13 member in stealing vehicles as early as 2002. In a three-day crime spree in early January 2005, Mazariegos participated with other members of SUR-13 to commit multiple drive-by shootings on suspected rival gang members and multiple armed robberies of pedestrians. Nandy assisted in the training of "Tiny Locos."
The defendants could each receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the RICO convictions. In addition, Sandoval could receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 on the charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs and distributing the drugs. Sentencing is scheduled for February 21, 2008.
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.