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Asian Boyz gang shot-caller convicted of eight slayings

February 18, 2011 |  7:49 am

Marvin_mercado He was the shot-caller in the Asian Boyz gang and the last of his cohorts to face justice in connection with at least eight slayings and 10 shootings in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

Jurors convicted 37-year-old Marvin Mercado in connection with those crimes Wednesday and will decide next week whether to recommend a sentence of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mercado eluded authorities for more than a decade by escaping to the Philippines, where he lived under an assumed name until he was arrested and brought to Los Angeles in 2009.

His seven co-defendants -- Bunthoeun Roeung, Sothi Menh, David Evangalista, Roatha Buth, Son Thanh Bui, Ky Tony Ngo, Kimorn Nuth -- were convicted in 1999 following a joint six-month trial.

The Asian Boyz gang grew out of a meeting between Mercado and fellow Cleveland High School student Sothi Mehn in the late 1980s.

Over the next few years, Sothi Mehn and Mercado informally built the circle of friends and acquaintances who would later evolve into a feared street gang. By the mid 1990s, the Asian Boyz were 200-strong, with the bulk of its members in Southern California and affiliates in Northern California and Texas, authorities said.

The gang initially participated in property crimes that targeted Southeast Asian immigrant business people. But their downfall began when they started targeting rivals, police said.

Mercado was convicted in connection with the April 1995 execution-style slaying of two rival gang members in Van Nuys and a car-to-car triple fatal shooting in August 1995 on the San Bernardino Freeway in El Monte.

Prosecutors also presented evidence that Mercado went to a party in March 1996 and pulled the pin on what he believed was a live grenade, throwing it into a crowd while co-conspirators opened fire on party-goers, killing one and injuring two others. He was also linked to at least two other slayings.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Marvin Mercado shown in a police photo in 1997. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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