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Montebello gang member convicted of federal racketeering and firearm charges

In this file photo, U.S. marshals raid a home in Montebello as part of Operation Sudden Impact.

In this file photo, U.S. marshals raid a home in Montebello as part of Operation Sudden Impact.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A longtime member of a Montebello street gang was found guilty of federal racketeering charges, authorities said Friday.

A federal jury said George Vera Sr., 48, conspired to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The jury also found him guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Vera and his two sons are among 16 defendants who have been convicted in federal court on charges related to Operation Sudden Impact, a task force investigation among state, federal and local agencies into gang activities in Montebello.

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Sudden Impact solved six cold case murders and resulted in the convictions of nearly two dozen gang affiliates. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged six people in relation to the slayings. Four of those charged have been convicted in state court, the U.S. attorney’s office said, and another two defendants are pending trial.

Five other defendants were charged by the district attorney on crimes ranging from drug sales to attempted murder, prosecutors said.

Vera, known as “Rascal” and “Big Rascal,” was a senior member of the Mexican Mafia-affiliated Southside Montebello street gang. Prosecutors said Vera led a double life, working as an electrician for Los Angeles County during the day and acting as gang leader and shot-caller by night.

“George Vera Sr. was a senior member of a gang that undertook great efforts to quash its rivals,” U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. “This gang also maintained an arsenal of weapons, regularly engaged in acts of violence and was involved in significant narcotics trafficking.”

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Two of Vera’s sons were also charged and pleaded guilty in the case, authorities said.

Marcus Matthew Vera pleaded guilty to drug, conspiracy and firearm charges and will be sentenced later this year. George Vera pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison.

The elder Vera provided a younger gang member with a firearm that was used in a murder, stored firearms and ammunition at his home for gang members to use and hosted gang meetings, according to court documents.

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He was “involved in the payment of ‘taxes’ to the Mexican Mafia on the gang’s behalf, directed younger members of the gang to protect his home from disrespect from rival gangs, and agreed to lie to his son’s probation officer to shield him from prosecution for drug dealing,” the documents said.

“As a result of this collaborative effort, the city of Montebello is now a safer and more peaceful place,” said Montebello Police Chief Kevin L. McClure.

Vera faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a mandatory minimum prison term of five years.

sarah.parvini@latimes.com

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