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Members of L.A. gang that targeted blacks are convicted

January 12, 2009 |  5:28 pm

Firestone

In a case that federal prosecutors trumpeted as the “largest ever” of its kind, 10 members and associates of the Florencia 13 street gang were convicted Monday on a range of federal charges, including racketeering, drug trafficking and attempted murder.

The verdicts followed a 3 1/2-month trial in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana in which prosecutors told jurors of a widespread criminal enterprise directed by Mexican Mafia members, both on the street and in prison.

The gang controlled drug distribution in unincorporated areas south of Los Angeles and in Huntington Park and collected “rent” from people who wanted to commit crimes in the area the gang controlled, prosecutors alleged.

The gang drew wide notoriety for allegedly shooting indiscriminately at African Americans who came into the neighborhoods in which it operated.

The defendants convicted Monday were among 102 gang members charged in four related indictments that stemmed from an investigation dubbed “Operation Joker’s Wild.”

To date, 76 of the defendants have either pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. Those convicted Monday were scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9 by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter.

--Scott Glover

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Martin Magdaleno, who works for a graffiti removal company, paints over graffiti on the side of a garage in the Florence-Firestone area.

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