A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts against five defendants, Armando Prudente, 34, Roberto Sandoval, 25, Israel Cruz, 29, Jorge Flores, 28, and Ricardo Gama, 29, all residents of Atlanta, Georgia. They have been convicted, after a trial that took a month to complete, on federal charges all relating to criminal activity that they were engaged in as members of a street gang known as “Sureños-13,” or “SUR-13.”
Defendants Prudente, Sandoval and Gama were all convicted of ” Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization,” RICO for short. Prudente, Flores and Cruse were convicted of Committing Violent Crimes that aided in Racketeering. Prudente and Sandoval were charged with possessing controlled substances with the intent to sell and also for conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to sell. Gama was convicted on charges of being alien in possession of firearms. And Prudente and Sandoval were found not guilty of attempted distribution of drugs.
In their decision the jury states that they found that the defendants were members of Sureños-13, or SUR-13, a street gang that was active in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and for most of the time, Prudente as the leader of the gang.
The evidence showed that the gang members were involved in committing murders, robberies, carjackings as wll as dive by shootings. They also were involved in dealing drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
In particular, the jury found Prudente, Sandoval and Flores guilty of murdering Rogelio Guznam in a drive by shooting. This event took place on April 24, 1999. In the commission of this one crime, Prudente gave the orders for Sandoval and Flores to carry out the shooting in a rival gang’s territory. He also supplied them with semiautomatic weapons. However, Guzman was not a member of any gang and the picked him out because of the type of car he drove.
The jury also found Cruz guilty of murdering Florention Marcial at a party on December 13, 2003. Members of the gang were at the party and a fight broke out between them and the members of another gang. Cruz exchanged insults with a member from the other gang, then pulled out a hand gun and started firing indiscriminately into the crowd, shooting Florentino Marcial in the back as he tried to flee, killing him instantly. Marcial was another victim who was not a member of any gang.
The jury convicted Gama for being an illegal alien who was in possession of firearms. The evidence presented at trial showed that it was from Gama that the gang members purchased their firearms from.
When they are sentenced on, February 19, 2008, Prudente, Sandoval Cruz and Flores are expected to each receive a sentence of life in prison. Gama could get up to 20 years in federal prison and face a fine of up to $750,000.
Source: FBI http://atlanta.fbi.gov/