Mexican Mafia boss in La Puente gets life in federal prison
A Mexican Mafia prison gang member and longtime leader of the Puente Trece gang was sentenced Wednesday to life in federal prison after his conviction for racketeering that includes murder plots and a brutal stabbing of an inmate designed to deter victims from cooperating with police.
Rafael “Cisco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 42, of La Puente controlled Puente-13 before he became a member of the Mexican Mafia and operated a large portion of the drug market in the east San Gabriel Valley, federal prosecutors say.
U.S. District Court Judge Howard Matz sentenced him to life in prison a day after sentencing his brother, Mexican Mafia member Cesar “Blanco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 38, of Rowland Heights to the same life term. Neither will be eligible for parole in the federal prison system.
A federal jury convicted the pair in December of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, illegally possessing firearms and other offenses.
Prosecutors during a trial showed that Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez ordered an attack on a witness who was cooperating with federal investigators in the case. The man was attacked at the federal jail in downtown Los Angeles, where he was stabbed 22 times and beaten, suffering a punctured lung and fractured skull.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence that as Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez was in custody until 2007, his brother trafficked huge amounts of methamphetamine with other gang members and acted as his brother's spokesman at gang meetings, directing the collection of protection money from area dealers.
The brothers had all the trappings of drug lords, including mounds of cash, luxury cars and custom boats, until they were arrested during a federal investigation into the gang's drug trafficking activities in 2008 and a subsequent racketeering indictment in 2010.
Prosecutors already convicted two other leaders of Puente-13 last year. Matz sentenced Abraham “Listo” Aldana, 30, of West Covina to 27 years in federal prison on Monday.
According to federal prosecutors, when Aldana got out of Pelican Bay State Prison in 2008, he became one of Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez’s "most aggressive lieutenants, collecting tax payments and helping facilitate the conspiracy to murder and assault rival gang members."
Last month, Michael “Mikey” Torres, 43, of La Puente, who was involved in the gang’s narcotics trafficking, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for racketeering, drug and firearm offenses.
Puente Trece was formed in La Puente about 60 years ago under the name “Bridgetown Gentlemen.” Since that time, federal prosecutors say, it has spawned more than a dozen “cliques,” or subgroups, all of which are loyal to the Mexican Mafia.
Puente-13 now claims as its “turf” a large portion of La Puente, as well as unincorporated parts of the San Gabriel Valley and portions of nearby cities, such as Hacienda Heights, Walnut and West Covina, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
In 2007, after getting out of federal prison, Raphael Munoz-Gonzalez and a cohort tried to muscle in on a rival Mafia leader's drug territory, prosecutors said. The rival, Jacques "Jocko" Padilla, who was already in prison, and his organization plotted to kill the pair before being arrested by local authorities.
-- Richard Winton