A suspected gang member who had been a fugitive for nearly two years is behind bars Friday facing a federal racketeering indictment that charges him in the attempted murder of an undercover Whittier police detective.
Frankie Vasquez of Carson, 39, was arrested Thursday in connection with an indictment that charges him and 50 other suspected members and associates of the Canta Ranas organization, a wide-ranging criminal enterprise which operates primarily in Santa Fe Springs and Whittier under the control of a member of the Mexican Mafia, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The racketeering indictment, unsealed in June 2016 and updated the following year to add additional charges, alleges that an incarcerated member of the prison gang exerts control over the Canta Ranas street gang and other gangs, and that he received compensation in the form of “rent” or “taxes” generated by drug trafficking and other offenses committed in gang territory.
The first superseding indictment also alleges that Vasquez, a member of the Varrio Keystone street gang and a key supplier of narcotics to the Canta Ranas organization, along with another defendant who was part of the Canta Ranas organization, attempted to murder a detective with the Whittier Police Department when they shot at him in his unmarked vehicle while he was conducting undercover surveillance as part of a narcotics investigation.
For his alleged role in the criminal enterprise, Vasquez is charged with conspiring to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — commonly known as RICO — conspiring to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking, as well as conspiring to distribute narcotics and commit money laundering.
Prosecutors contend that when Vasquez was apprehended, he possessed a copy of the indictment, with certain sections highlighted.
“We will be relentless in tracking down dangerous fugitives and bringing them to justice,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said. “The criminal organization charged in this indictment is responsible for myriad crimes of violence and drug trafficking. Apprehending fugitives linked to dangerous organizations is part of our overall commitment to making our communities safer.”
At his arraignment, Vazquez was ordered held without bond. Most of the defendants charged in the RICO indictment have been broken into five groups for purposes of trial. The first trial is expected to begin on Aug. 7 in downtown Los Angeles.