Merced "Shadow" Cambero. Photo: FBI
Merced “Shadow” Cambero. Photo: FBI

A Latino gang member from Highland Park, who spent more than 15 years on the run in connection with a racially motivated murder, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges.

Merced “Shadow” Cambero, 38, entered his plea to charges of conspiracy against rights, interference with federally protected activities, aiding and abetting, and use or discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson set a March 28 trial date in downtown Los Angeles.

Cambero was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in Baja California and turned over to the FBI at the border on Feb. 3. Federal prosecutors allege he was one of three shooters who gunned down Kenneth Kurry Wilson, a black man, in Highland Park in April 1999.

Cambero, according to federal court documents, is a member of the Avenues gang, which waged a campaign of terror against blacks in Highland Park.

The case marked the first time the federal hate crime statute had been used to combat racial violence by members of a street gang.

In 2006, three other members of the Avenues gang were sentenced to life in federal prison as part of the six-year conspiracy that also saw another black man gunned down at a bus stop in December 2000. A fourth man was convicted as a lookout in that 2000 slaying of Christopher Bowser.

-City News Service 

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