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Transnational Gangs
11/16/2011

ICE HSI New York takes down Los Vagos RICO enterprise

NEW YORK – Twenty-five members and associates of Los Vagos, a Mexican transnational gang, were arrested on outstanding New York City arrest warrants, immigration violations and federal charges. These charges included: murder conspiracy, assault, firearms offenses and narcotics trafficking. These charges stem from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

The indictment alleges that the 12 gang members operated as a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) – a criminal enterprise – that sold narcotics and engaged in violence to protect and preserve its power, territory and profits. Two defendants were previously in custody on federal charges, and the remaining 10 defendants were arrested this morning in a coordinated takedown.

"The gang members we arrested today are career criminals, alleged murderers, drug dealers, and robbers who created a climate of fear in numerous communities throughout New York City," said James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New York.  "Their era of control is over."

"As alleged, these defendants were part of a dangerous and deadly criminal organization that used threats, intimidation and extreme violence to protect their turf," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York. "Today's charges are an important step forward in dismantling this ruthless gang and disrupting their reign of terror. Our campaign to rid the streets of New York of violent gangs and to return the neighborhoods they infest to their residents continues."

"These individuals used violence, including stabbings and shootings to carry out their criminal enterprise," said NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. "Their behavior put innocent people at risk.  I want to commend the NYPD's Gang Division, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and prosecutors from the U.S Attorney's Office for working together to bring these violent gang members to justice."

According to court documents:

Los Vagos gang is a criminal organization primarily comprised of Mexican and Mexican-American members based in East Harlem and the Bronx. During the period of time charged in the indictment, Juan R. Climico and Jesus Martinez were two leaders of the gang and were responsible for calling gang meetings, overseeing gang initiations and collecting dues from gang members and associates.  Initiations also referred to as "baptisms," involved gang members beating the prospective member. The members collected dues which were used to buy firearms for the gang and sent to incarcerated gang members. Dues were also used to pay the expenses of deported gang members and to assist them with illegally re-entering the United States.  Los Vagos members marked their territory with graffiti, including "tags" that read, for example, "VGS" (short for "Vagos"), "VGS-116" (short for "Vagos, 116th Street," in Manhattan), or "10 MDS" (short for "10 Mandamientos," or "10 Commandments").

The indictment alleges that Los Vagos gang was a racketeering enterprise, the purposes of which included: (a) enriching the members and associates of the enterprise through the distribution and sale of narcotics, including cocaine; (b) preserving and protecting the power, territory, and profits of the enterprise through murder, assault, robbery, and other acts of violence and threats of violence;(c) promoting and enhancing the enterprise and the activities of its members and associates; (d) keeping victims and potential victims in fear of the enterprise and its members and associates through acts and threats of violence; and (e) providing assistance to members and associates who committed crimes for, and on behalf of, the enterprise. 

Nine defendants – Juan Climico, Jesus Martinez, Fidel DeJesus, Arturo Medina-Lopez, Rudy Mendoza, Yasmin Osuna, Marcos Reyes, William Rojas, and Luisbi Santos – are charged with participating in the racketeering enterprise. Each of these defendants, except Osuna, is also charged with using, carrying, discharging, brandishing and possessing firearms.

As outlined in the indictment, Los Vagos members committed acts of violence, including: beatings, stabbings, and shootings to protect their members from rival gangs and to dissuade rival gangs from encroaching on their territory.  The gang also extorted or robbed individuals who lived or worked in their territory.  Los Vagos' extortion and robbery victims included people who controlled brothels in the area as well as individuals who were not engaged in criminal activity.  Climico, DeJesus and Jesus Martinez are charged with conspiring to murder and conspiring to assault members of the Latin Kings, and DeJesus is charged with the attempted murder of a member of the Latin Kings and the assault of another individual.

In addition, Climico, Jesus Martinez, Rubi Martinez, Mendoza, Osuna, Reyes, Santos, Marco Cruz, and Jorge Leyva are charged with conspiring to distribute narcotics.  Cruz is also charged with possessing a firearm as an illegal alien, and Rubi Martinez is charged with providing a firearm to criminal associates, who were not members of Los Vagos, but who used the firearm in a shooting on Aug. 25, 2011.

Climico, Jesus Martinez, DeJesus, Medina-Lopez, Osuna, Reyes, Rojas, Santos, Leyva, and Rubi Martinez were arrested today and will be presented in Manhattan federal court later this afternoon. Mendoza was previously charged with robbery conspiracy, narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses in U.S. v. Gaspar Vallejo, Sr. and is currently in federal custody.  Cruz was previously arrested on a complaint that charged him with possessing a firearm as an illegal alien and is currently in federal custody.

Count 1: RICO conspiracy

  • Juan R. Climico 
  • Fidel DeJesus 
  • Jesus Martinez 
  • Arturo Medina-Lopez 
  • Rudy Mendoza 
  • Yasmin Osuna 
  • Marcos Reyes
  • William Rojas
  • Luisbi Santos

Count 2 and 3: Conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering

  • Juan R. Climico
  • Fidel DeJesus                                  
  • Jesus Martinez

Count 4: Attempted murder in aid of racketeering

  • Fidel DeJesus

Count 5: Assault in aid of racketeering

  • Fidel DeJesus

Count 6: Narcotics trafficking

  • Juan R. Climico
  • Marco Cruz
  • Jorge Leyva
  • Jesus Martinez
  • Rubi Martinez
  • Rudy Mendoza
  • Yasmin Osuna
  • Marcos Reyes
  • Luisbi Santos

Count 7: Using, carrying, possessing, brandishing, and discharging firearms during and in relation to violent crime in aid of racketeering (Counts 2 through 5)

  • Juan R. Climico
  • Fidel DeJesus
  • Jesus Martinez

Count 8: Using, carrying, possessing, brandishing, and discharging firearms during and in relation to the RICO conspiracy

  • Juan R. Climico
  • Fidel DeJesus
  • Jesus Martinez

Count 9: Using, carrying, possessing, brandishing, and discharging firearms during and in relation to the RICO conspiracy

  • Rudy Mendoza

Count 10: Using, carrying, possessing, brandishing, and discharging firearms during and in relation to the RICO conspiracy

  • Arturo Medina-Lopez
  • Marcos Reyes
  • William Rojas
  • Luisbi Santos

Count 11: Illegal alien in possession of a firearm

  • Marco Cruz

Count 12: Transferring a firearm, knowing that such firearm would be used to commit a crime of violence

  • Rubi Martinez
Defendants
NameCityAge
Juan R. ClimicoNew York, New York25
Marco CruzBronx, New York33
Fidel DeJesusNew York, New York21
Jorge LeyvaBronx, New Yorkunknown
Jesus MartinezNew York, New York20
Rubi MartinezNew York, New York21
Arturo Medina-LopezNew York, New York22
Rudy MendozaBronx, New York26
Yasmin OsunaNew York, New York25
Marcos ReyesNew York, New York29
William RojasNew York, New York18
Luisbi SantosNew York, New York20