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Six Mongols are charged with a shooting at a 2005 Toys for Tots charity drive in Norco that injured three people

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Six Mongols are charged with a shooting at a 2005 Toys for Tots charity drive in Norco that injured three people, including a Norco firefighter. The Mongols opened fire after a fistfight with rival Hells Angels members attending the event at the Maverick Steakhouse. Alex Lozano, president of the Mongols' San Bernardino chapter, and members Manuel Armandarez, Rafael Lozano, Ricardo Gutierrez, Andres Rodriguez and Mario Angulo all are charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting, the document states. Other gang members are charged with causing a riot at a 2002 Ultimate Fighting Match at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, where people were attacked with knives and chairs as Mongols members began kicking victims with steel-toed boots. Among those arrested Tuesday was Mongols President Ruben Cavazos. In June this year, he claimed that police were infringing on the Mongols' social organization by arresting several members after they nearly shut down Interstate 15 by performing stunts en route to a rally in San Diego. O'Brien said the evidence compiled in the indictment is proof that the gang is not a social club. "Any social organization willing to use violence poses a significant threat," O'Brien said. "These charges of drug trafficking, murder and mayhem clearly show this is not a recreational club." ATF agents served search warrants at several Inland locations beginning at 5 a.m. Tuesday. At Rafael Lozano's Orange Street home in Redlands, ATF agents broke down a deadbolted door. Agents ransacked the house and said they recovered a gun, ammunition, Mongols clothing and paraphernalia. Lozano had a "Say No to Drugs" sticker on his front door and a sticker of a Redlands police badge. A security camera monitored his front porch as a new Mercedes and a Ford Shelby Cobra sat in the driveway. Lozano had no prior criminal charges in Riverside or San Bernardino counties, other than driving violations. He is charged in the Norco shooting and with methamphetamine sales as part of the Mongols gang. The raids also hit Los Angeles, Washington, Colorado, Florida and Nevada. In the Los Angeles and Inland areas, authorities seized seven pounds of methamphetamine, about 70 motorcycles and about 71 weapons. The Mongols organization was created in Montebello during the 1970s after Hispanics were excluded from the Hells Angels gang, the indictment states. The club now boasts chapters in Canada, Mexico and Italy on its Web site. Mongols members sell methamphetamine and cocaine to raise money to pay dues to the gang leadership, the indictment states. In exchange, they receive protection from a violent feud with the Mexican Mafia and other criminal street gangs, the indictment states. Mongols award a special skull-and-bones patch to members who commit murders or shootings to increase their status in the club, according to an ATF affidavit. All 71 men arrested were expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles Federal Court and will proceed to a jury trial in their next court proceedings, U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek said

Indictment alleges the Mongols organization was involved in a wide range of criminal activity, including murder, hate crimes against Black people, ass

Indictment alleges the Mongols organization was involved in a wide range of criminal activity, including murder, hate crimes against Black people, assaults, firearm violations and drug trafficking.The organization of the Mongols gang “from top to bottom has been charged and targeted,” said Michael Sullivan, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.“We believe it puts a stake in the heart of the Mongols,” Sullivan told reporters at a downtown Los Angeles news briefing.Among those taken into custody were former Mongols National President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos, along with several chapter presidents and various officials of local chapters in conjunction with 162 search warrants executed in California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Ohio.
Ten other defendants were arrested previously as part of “Operation Black Rain.”The investigation involved four male ATF agents — supported by four female ATF agents — who infiltrated the gang and were involved in “some of the most harrowing undercover work” that U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said he had seen.
The male agents went through the Mongols’ recruitment process and submitted to lie detector tests, according to O’Brien, who said their lives were in danger “virtually every day.”The four female agents accompanied the undercover agents to a number of functions, the U.S. attorney said.Investigators seized more than 70 motorcycles, 86 firearms, one explosive device and a quantity of drugs, including more than six pounds of methamphetamine.The U.S. attorney, who stood in front of about 20 of the seized bikes, said the evidence shows clearly the Mongols are “not a recreational motorcycle club,” and noted the indictment seeks the forfeiture of the trademarked Mongols name.Authorities have filed papers seeking a court order to prevent Mongols gang members from using or displaying the gang’s name and to allow law enforcement officers to stop anyone wearing a Mongols vest and to remove it, O’Brien said.He said the Mongols logo has been used as a source of “intimidation.”
“Our message today is that’s going to stop,” O’Brien said.Some of the defendants are facing life in federal prison if convicted of murder, and most of those arrested are potentially “facing decades” behind bars, the U.S. attorney said, adding that investigators had “dealt a massive blow to the Mongols motorcycle gang.”ATF Special Agent in Charge John Torres said the vision of the undercover investigation was to “literally stop the violence” involving Mongols gang members, which he said has been accomplished.Authorities said the nationwide organization’s membership includes former members of several street gangs.The multi-agency investigation included personnel from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Montebello Police Department, Las Vegas Metro Police Department and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Bandido Boss Ross Brand died in hospital after being gunned down while leaving the bikie gang's Geelong clubhouse

Bandido Boss Ross Brand died in hospital on Thursday after being gunned down while leaving the bikie gang's Geelong clubhouse on Wednesday night with three other men.
A second man was undergoing surgery on Thursday to remove shotgun pellets in his buttocks, thigh and arms while the other two escaped injury and later gave their accounts of the ambush to police.A volley of shots was fired from a white twin-cab ute parked outside the clubhouse as the men left it just after 6pm (AEDT), near the corner of Bayldon Court and Leather Street in an industrial area of the Geelong suburb of Breakwater.Bandidos throughout Australia and around the world have sent condolences to the Geelong chapter of the global gang.Among the messages on the gang's website are several stating "God forgives, Bandidos don't."Police said they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the shooting, although it was well known the Bandidos had been in a bloody feud with rival Geelong gang the Rebels for at least two years.Detective Inspector Steve Clark said police were not assuming it was carried out by a rival gang."It's too early at this stage to determine whether the shooting was linked to any outlaw motorcycle groups," Det Insp Clark told reporters."Certainly we don't have a closed mind and have views that the shooting was necessarily done by another outlaw motorcycle gang."We need to review all the evidence we have got and see where it takes us."He said Mr Brand appeared to the victim of a "targeted shooting".Det Insp Clark said Mr Brand, 51, was a "fully-patched" member of the Bandidos and had prior convictions for violence, firearms and weapons offences.His Torquay home had been shot at earlier this year.Det Insp Clark said police were hopeful gang members would help the investigation and not hide behind a wall of silence."We're pleased with the cooperation so far and have no reason to suspect that people won't talk to us," he said.The shooting is the second on the Bandidos' clubhouse in the past 18 months and bullet holes from the previous attack are still visible in its roller door.In April, the Rebels' Geelong headquarters was firebombed and, in June, two gunmen shot four Rebels gang members at a nightclub in Adelaide.

Anthony Shippley, 41; Ernest Salas, 40; Edward Montano, 42; Adrian Sisneros, 26; Michael Hee, 44; and Thomas Hernandez, 33, Mongol members arrested

Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Metro Gang Task Force carried out sweeps this week in the metro area, searching for 14 Mongol gang members and their associates, along with evidence, after they were named in federal indictments. With two additional arrests Wednesday, 13 are now in custody. They face numerous criminal counts on allegations of drug trafficking, illegal firearms possession and witness tampering. Similar operations took place in six other states, with the biggest occurring in California. Dozens have been arrested.
Agents continued to search for Steven Gonzales, 40, whose last known address was in Denver. Maestas was arrested on numerous federal counts, including trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and Ecstasy, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A neighbor who befriended Maestas when he and his family moved into the Harvey Park neighborhood recalled federal agents carrying out a raid at the Maestas home about two years ago. But neighbors rarely saw Denver police at the house despite a lot of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.Maestas, 34, is married with two young sons and owns a towing service."He seemed, to me, that he very much separated his time in the club from his home life and maybe even tried intentionally to do that," said the neighbor who asked not to be identified. "But there was a lot of activity at his house. Nobody would be home, and a lot of people I had never seen before would be going into his house, you know. "I think there was always suspicious activity around there, but no indication to me, or just from watching, that anything would be going on."In Fort Lupton, where federal authorities executed a warrant at a home belonging to Ruben Bravo, the police chief said his officers noticed a large Mongols presence in the summer. The indictment does not indicate whether Bravo, one of the two arrested on Wednesday, was a Mongols member or a gang associate. "We had a few daily contacts - but just (because) there were a bunch of them on the weekends when it was warm and they would be riding their bikes with their colors on," Police Chief Ron Grannis said.After checking records, the chief found just one call about six months ago on a domestic violence complaint at the home where Bravo lived. "They did have a few parties . . . during the summer that didn't get out of hand to the point that neighbors had to call us," Grannis said.Grannis plans to meet with federal agents on Friday to learn more about the criminal activities in which the Mongols were allegedly involved.In addition to Maestas and Bravo, the 11 other Mongol members and associates taken into custody on Tuesday and Wednesday were Anthony Shippley, 41; Ernest Salas, 40; Edward Montano, 42; Adrian Sisneros, 26; Michael Hee, 44; and Thomas Hernandez, 33, all of Denver. Also, John Bertolucci, 48, of Lakewood; Cary Weinman, 64, of Centennial; and Wayne Ordakowski, 48, of Parker.Victor Muniz, 27, and Leonard Martinez, 41, no hometowns given, already were in custody.

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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