Mexican Mafia's O.C. boss convicted of federal racketeering charges

The reputed godfather of the Mexican Mafia in Orange County was convicted Wednesday of federal racketeering charges.

The jury in Santa Ana found Peter Ojeda guilty after just more than two days of deliberations, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. 

Ojeda, 73, was convicted of on one count each of racketeering and committing violent crimes to support a racketeering conspiracy -- charges first filed in 2011 against him and dozens of other alleged Mexican Mafia members in a 40-page indictment.

Jurors also found that the conspiracies included a turf war between a rival Mexican Mafia member and Ojeda, whose nicknames are "Sana" and "The Big Homie." As part of the feud, Ojeda was involved in plans to kill other gang members, prosecutors said.

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Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, said the case is proof of her office's commitment to take down the notorious prison gang.

“No one associated with the Mexican Mafia -- whether they are an actual member of the prison gang or the member of a gang affiliated with Mexican Mafia -- is beyond the reach of the law," Decker said in a statement.

The trial, which began in November, offered an inside look at the infamous clandestine organization that wields power in the prison system, as well as among Latino gangs. 

Ojeda was one of 28 people initially charged in the federal indictment. The defendants allegedly operated a racketeering organization that distributed narcotics, taxed other gang members and protected and expanded the power of their criminal enterprise through intimidation, violence, threats of violence, assaults, murders and conspiracies to commit murder.

Suzie Rodriguez, the 53-year-old girlfriend of Ojeda, was also convicted in the two conspiracies for relaying messages between local gang members and Ojeda during his stay in a Pennsylvania federal prison.

Rodriguez, who was out on bond, was taken into custody after Wednesday's verdict.

Of the defendants initially charged, only Ojeda and Rodriguez remained set for trial. With the exception of two defendants who died, all of the other nonfugitive defendants have pleaded guilty, according to a prosecution trial brief. 

In 2006, Ojeda was convicted on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act charges. Later he was transferred out of Orange County to serve his sentence in the federal Bureau of Prisons, according to the indictment. Although he was in prison outside California, Ojeda maintained his leadership position, according to the indictment.

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna is scheduled to sentence Ojeda and Rodriguez on May 9. Each faces up to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole.

Twitter @brittny_mejia

Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.


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