A member of a street gang that operates in Santa Fe Springs and Whittier pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal criminal charges, including counts stemming from the April 2016 slaying of a rival outside a San Gabriel Valley restaurant.
Leonardo Antolin, 25, of Whittier pleaded guilty to five felonies before U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who scheduled a Sept. 23 sentencing hearing. The plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court specifies that Antolin will serve a sentence of 33 to 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Antolin — a member of a Mexican Mafia-affiliated gang — admitted in the plea agreement that on April 19, 2016, he killed a rival Mexican Mafia member who, according to prosecutors, wanted to expand his influence and challenge the authority of other Mexican Mafia members in the San Gabriel Valley.
During the confrontation at a restaurant in the unincorporated community of Bassett, the Mexican Mafia member was fatally shot, his bodyguard was severely wounded and an innocent restaurant patron was shot six times in the abdomen, back, buttocks and legs, according to federal prosecutors.
Antolin also admitted to aiding in the trafficking of methamphetamine on behalf of his gang, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Antolin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations– RICO — Act, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances, and discharging a firearm during a violent crime.
The guilty pleas arose from a 2016 federal grand jury indictment charging 51 suspected gang members and associates. Prosecutors have secured more than 20 convictions so far. Trial for Jose Loza, 40, an alleged Mexican Mafia member and gang shot caller, and Ronald Sotello, 43, is scheduled to begin on July 30 in downtown Los Angeles.
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