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9 indicted for allegedly aiding Latino prison gang

October 29, 2012 | 10:56 pm

Alberto Vargas, Annette Gomez, Joe Lara, Raul Hernandez.
Nine people have been indicted for allegedly being part of an extortion conspiracy in which agents of a Latino prison gang levied taxes on street gang members in Orange County, law enforcement officials announced Monday.

Representatives from an unnamed Latino prison gang regularly collected money from street gang members -- money raised by drug-dealing and other criminal enterprise -- which was then funneled back to the prison gang, according to a joint statement from the Anaheim Police Department, federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Orange County district attorney's office.

Authorities said the activity stretched from March 2010 until July 2011.

Officials said all nine will be arraigned Tuesday: 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.

The charges include conspiracy to commit a crime, extortion by force or threat, attempted extortion by threat and street terrorism. 

Officials said two others arrested during the investigation face charges related to drug dealing. Alejandro Maldonado, 34, and Eugenio Salazar, 41, face charges including the sale and transportation of a controlled substance and transporting heroin from noncontiguous counties. 

The investigation -- which included surveillance and undercover operations -- was a combined effort of Anaheim police and the DEA.


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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Alberto Vargas and Annette Gomez, top row. Joe Lara (L) and Raul Hernandez, bottom. Credit: Orange County district attorney's office