Street Gang Leader Is Sentenced to Life on RICO Conviction

LOS ANGELES
Street Gang Leader Is Sentenced to Life on RICO Conviction
His Columbia Li’l Cycos ran drug sales around MacArthur Park. The case was first use of U.S. racketeering law against such a group in L.A.
By David Rosenzweig
Times Staff Writer

February 4 2003

The leader of a street gang that controlled narcotics trafficking in Los Angeles’ crime-plagued MacArthur Park area was sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years Monday after being convicted on federal racketeering charges.

Francisco (Pancho Villa) Martinez, 39, ran the Columbia Li’l Cycos gang from a prison cell, issuing orders to gang members through his wife, who is awaiting sentencing.

All told, 22 Li’l Cycos members have been convicted in what has been described as the first use of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act against a Los Angeles street gang.

Until their indictment three years ago, the Li’l Cycos were raking in about $85,000 a week in protection money from street dealers in the northeast MacArthur Park area, according to testimony in Martinez’s trial last year.

Prosecutors said the gang tried to pattern itself after an East Coast Mafia family. Instead of squandering their money, they plowed much of it into the purchase of suburban homes, two restaurants, a used car lot and a juice bar.

Some money was also sent to Mexico for safekeeping.

FBI agents seized about $450,000 in cash, along with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, when they raided the home of Martinez’s wife, Janie Maria Garcia, 52, in Monterey Park, and those of other relatives.

But like so many Mafia families, the Li’l Cycos became embroiled in deadly turf battles with rival gangs. In court Monday, special Assistant U.S. Atty. Luis Li said Martinez was responsible for the assassinations of three people and the attempted murders of three others during his reign as the gang’s “godfather.” Li asked the court to impose the maximum sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

Defense attorney Gerald Scotti argued that his client should be given a lighter sentence because he has been held under harsh conditions — in solitary confinement — and because he has accepted responsibility for his crimes.

But U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew rejected the argument, saying a sentence of life in prison plus 60 years was justified “given the nature of the charges.” Several members of Martinez’s family wept softly as the judge spoke.

Martinez, who has been behind bars since 1994, had only one request — that he be allowed to join his friends in prison. Lew said that is up to the Bureau of Prisons to decide.

Although this was the first RICO prosecution of a Los Angeles street gang, federal prosecutors have successfully used the law against members of the prison-based Mexican Mafia. And RICO prosecutions are pending against three other groups, the Wah Ching street gang and two prison gangs, the Nazi Low Riders, and the Aryan Brotherhood.

Posted by on Feb 4 2003. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

*

Search Archive

Search by Date
Search by Category
Search with Google

Photo Gallery

Log in |
  • Home
  • Hispanic Gangs
  • Homies Figures – The Original Homies
  • Prison Gangs
  • The Inside Man – Confidential Informant, Los Angeles Gangs & the LAPD
  • Email
  • Connecticut Drug Threat Assessment report – 2003
  • Dianne Feinstein Report, The Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act: Combating the Spread of Gang Violence – 2003
  • National Alliance of Gang Investigators 2005
  • L.A. Area Terrorized by Marauding Youngsters
  • Other Cities
  • Three persons were killed by shotgun blast in hotel on Vermont Avenue, 1979
  • Jamiel’s Law, proposed by Mayoral candiate Walter Moore
  • MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA, CHIEF BRATTON, AND LOCAL AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ANNOUNCE MAJOR CRACKDOWN ON L.A. STREET GANGS
  • Los Angeles Police Gang Enforcement Initiaitives – 2007
  • My Kingdom Come – 2015
  • Passing of Vincent A Alonso
  • SG Music Group
  • Crip Gangs
  • Bloods
  • Asian Gangs
  • Forums
  • Shop
  • Injunctions
  • Contact information streetgangs.com
  • Resources
  • Contact