Read my lips: no new taxes . . . imposed by Hispanic prison gangs on street thugs and drug dealers. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Anaheim Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) endorse that message, as their joint investigation netted seven men and two women being arraigned in Santa Ana this morning for their roles in an
extortion conspiracy involving the unusual “tax.”
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Two others were indicted for heroin sales as a result of the probe, which through leg work, research, surveillance and undercover intelligence gathering uncovered the following, according to an OCDA statement:
Between March 2010 and July 2011, the nine defendants worked the streets for an unidentified Hispanic prison gang, collecting weekly or monthly taxes from gang members and drug dealers who were not in custody and then funneling the money back to the prison gang. This actually amounted to extortion, authorities claim, as the targeted taxpayers were said to have disobeyed orders or broken other rules of the prison gang.
The extortion defendants are: Alberto Vargas, 49; Gloria Aguilar, 55; Joe Lara,
40; Raul Gonzalez Hernandez, 36; Edward Barela, 49; Richard Aguilar, 43;
Ismael Esquivel, 33; Marvin Robles, 47; and Annette Gomez, 33. Each is being held in lieu of $1 million bail and, if convicted, could get life in prison, which at least would put them closer to their bosses. Actual charges against individual defendants vary but could include conspiracy to commit a crime, extortion by force or threat, attempted
extortion by threat, street terrorism and sentencing enhancements for
criminal street gang activity and prior strike and prison
Indicted at the state level for the sale of
controlled substances were Alejandro Maldonado, 34, and Eugenio Salazar, 41. Their charges include sale
or transportation of a controlled substance and transporting heroin
from noncontiguous counties with sentencing enhancement allegations for
possession for sale of over 14.25 grams of heroin. Each is
being held on $250,000 bail and face a maximum sentence of 10 years and
four months in state prison if convicted, according to the OCDA.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.