The second-in-command of a Mexican Mafia-linked East Los Angeles street gang that federal authorities say terrorized residents of the Ramona Gardens housing complex in Boyle Heights for decades has been sentenced to nearly 13 years behind bars.
He’ll be immediately deported to Mexico after his release.
Victor “Grizzly” Barrios, 43, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder to a 155-month prison term, reduced from 180 months to account for about two years served in federal custody following his arrest on conspiracy and drug trafficking charges.
Upon release, he will be detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deported to Mexico, according to court papers.
The sentencing was handed down Monday.
Barrios was among nearly three-dozen members of the Big Hazard gang indicted in December 2014 under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, which federal authorities in Los Angeles have successfully used for decades to battle prison gangs and street gangs.
The initial indictment outlines alleged criminal acts dating back to 2007, including drug deals, intimidation, violence against people believed to have cooperated with law enforcement, illegal weapons sales and threats against black residents of Ramona Gardens, including tagging with phrases such as “no blacks.”
The Hazard gang takes its name from a park near Ramona Gardens and is believed to have around 350 members.
In a letter to the court, Barrios acknowledged his “unwise choices,” and the former gang shot-caller admitted that he alone is responsible for his actions.
Barrios said that prior to his arrest, he spent three years with Father Greg Boyle’s Homeboy Industries, learning how to be a pastry chef. He told the judge that he had enrolled in an internship program at Bouchon, chef Thomas Keller’s French bistro in Beverly Hills.
“Not only did I learn the art of bread baking, but I was given the chance to work as an extra in a couple of TV series,” Barrios wrote.
According to the indictment, Barrios’ gang distributes methamphetamine, PCP, crack cocaine, heroin and other controlled substances in neighborhoods it controls.
Gang members are known to “advertise” their criminal acts by shouting references to their gang before or during a crime to cause fear, the indictment said. Hazard-related symbols are used in tagging throughout the neighborhood.
Prosecutors say the gang uses murder, assault and threats to keep its members, associates and other Latino gangs in line. The Mexican Mafia authorizes the gang to carry out the attacks, federal authorities said.
The lead defendant in the 45-count indictment is Manuel “Cricket” Larry Jackson, a Mexican Mafia member who allegedly oversees the activities of the Hazard gang.
The indictment alleges that under Jackson’s control, the gang commits a wide variety of crimes, most significantly drug trafficking, which generates revenues through the sale of narcotics and the “taxing” of drug dealers who operate in Hazard territory. Some of the revenues generated through “taxes” or “rent” are funneled back to Jackson and other members of the Mexican Mafia, according to the government.
Jackson is awaiting trial in Los Angeles federal court in two separate cases.
–City News Service