Leader of anti-gang group was selling guns

Man pleads guilty to illegally peddling assault weapons. L.A. had paid his organization $1.5 million to aid peace efforts.

By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 18, 2008

The director of the antigang organization No Guns, which the city of Los Angeles once paid $1.5 million to steer Latino youths away from a life of crime, pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally selling assault weapons to federal undercover officers.

Hector “Big Weasel” Marroquin, 51, was sentenced to eight years in prison, said Eric Harmon, the Los Angeles County prosecutor in the case.

Marroquin’s accomplice and girlfriend, Sylvia Arellano, 26, pleaded guilty to illegal weapons sales. She is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison, Harmon said.

Marroquin was arrested in May in a case that stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into gun sales by the 18th Street gang.

Using video surveillance and a confidential informant, the agency bought several weapons from Marroquin, Harmon said.

In one case, Marroquin sold a MAK-90 semi-automatic assault rifle out of his bar, Marroking Seafood and Bar on Atlantic Avenue in Cudahy, to a confidential informant for the firearms bureau, authorities said.

He also sold a Ewbank 7.62-millimeter assault rifle to the confidential informant and a M-11, similar to an Uzi, to an undercover bureau agent, authorities said.

Marroquin has had numerous run-ins with law enforcement.

He is a reputed longtime member of the South-Central Los Angeles 18th Street gang. A gang expert testified to a grand jury that Marroquin remained a shot-caller in 18th Street despite claiming to have dropped out, Harmon said.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators believe he organized street-gang taxing for the Mexican Mafia in the city’s Lennox area in the mid-1990s.

Sheriff’s investigators believe he ordered Latino street gangs to attack the Lennox 13 gang for refusing to pay taxes to the Mexican Mafia. A gang war ensued.

In 1996, Marroquin formed No Guns, an organization he said was dedicated to mediating gang wars and stopping gun violence in besieged neighborhoods.

The city’s antigang program, L.A. Bridges, eventually contracted with No Guns to provide gang intervention services, in part becaue of a dearth of Latino antigang organizations in the area.

The city ended up paying No Guns $1.5 million over a three-year period.

The Sheriff’s Department even used Marroquin as a mediator in race riots at Pitchess Detention Center.

In an earlier interview with The Times, Marroquin said he had turned away from a life of crime and gangs. He claimed to have helped more than 60 gang members find jobs in labor unions.

In 2006, however, revelations that Marroquin hired many of his relatives at No Guns — including his son, Hector “Little Weasel” Marroquin Jr. — followed by his arrest on weapons charges prompted the city to cancel its contract with his group.

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