A well-known Hispanic gang member from Los Angeles, California, today accepted in court his guilt for distributing methamphetamines and collecting “taxes” from other narcotics dealers in the name of the prison gang La Mafia Mexicana (the “Eme”), the prosecutor’s office said. Central District of California.
Jonathan Zepeda, 28, a member of the Frogtown gang, pleaded guilty to violating the Organized Crime Law (RICO) and other serious charges, facing a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison with possible freedom conditional for life.
According to the results of the investigation presented by the prosecution, Zepeda was the main lieutenant of Jorge Gray, another gang member who acted in the streets as leader of Arnold Gonzales, “Arnie”, member of the “Eme” and who gave the orders from the Pelican Bay state prison.
On Gonzales’ orders, the Frogtown, Toonerville and Rascals gangs, fighting for territory in Los Angeles, joined in 2010 to control the sale of narcotics and other illegal activities along the Los Angeles River, from Elysian Park to close to the city of Burbank, north of Los Angeles.
The criminal organization that controlled Gonzales through Gray and Zepeda obtained illegal income through extortion and specifically with the collection of “taxes” from other gangs and individuals who distributed narcotics in the territory they controlled.
In pleading guilty today, Zepeda – who was on probation – acknowledged possessing several firearms, including a machine gun.
Part of their job was to obtain firearms to reinforce the authority of the criminal organization.
Santos Zepeda, Jonathan’s brother, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to violate the RICO and methamphetamine trafficking law.
The Zepeda brothers are part of a list of 22 gang members accused in 2015 after a federal investigation into the operation of the three gangs.
Of the accused, 13 have pleaded guilty and the other nine – including Gray – will be prosecuted as of March 6.
Zepeda’s sentence is scheduled for March 5.
The Eme (Mexican Mafia) is one of the four major prison gangs in California. It originated in the penitentiary system of that state in the 1960s.