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Mongols ex-leader pleads guilty to racketeering, faces 20 years in prison

July 7, 2009 |  1:46 pm

Ruben "Doc" Cavazos, the former Mongols motorcycle gang leader indicted with 78 others last year for allegedly ordering murders, extortion, drug trafficking and attacks on gang opponents, has pleaded guilty to a count of racketeering that could send him to prison for 20 years.

The plea deal, apparently reached in January, was disclosed in court documents filed late last month in the case, which has largely been prosecuted under seal.

Cavazos' guilty plea was revealed in a filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles that sought forfeiture of the Mongols' registered trademarks -- a sanction that has allowed authorities to shut down the motorcycle gang's website and bar display of logos and insignia by the indicted members.

By pleading guilty to the charge under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Cavazos was agreeing to surrender the trademarks as part of his sentencing deal, the June 29 filing stated.

Prosecutors claimed in a 177-page indictment in October that Cavazos and other Mongols leaders operated a violent criminal organization that directed gang members to kill, maim, rob and otherwise intimidate rivals in the drug-trafficking circles in which they sought domination. Several others among the 79 gang members arrested in six states last year have also entered guilty pleas, the recently disclosed documents show.

The indictment alleged that Cavazos conspired with Mexican Mafia leaders to enforce that gang's control of the drug market in Southern California, including hits on trafficking rivals or to press collections. The gang's activities were in part financed by credit-card fraud, allowing federal authorities to bring the RICO charges against Cavazos and others.

Cavazos faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in February.

Phone calls made by The Times to the U.S. Attorney's Office and to Cavazos' federal public defender, Angel Navarro, were not immediately returned.

-- Carol J. Williams