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Transnational Gangs

Father of Bay Area gang member sentenced for obstruction of justice and being an accessory to multiple murders

SAN FRANCISCO – The father of a Bay Area gang member was sentenced Friday to 70 months in prison for obstruction of justice and being an accessory-after-the-fact to three racketeering murders committed by his son, Joseph Ortiz.

Michael Ortiz, Sr., 50, of San Bruno, admitted that on the evening of December 22, 2010, his son told him that he shot and killed several rival gang members in South San Francisco. The elder Ortiz and other co-defendants agreed to hide or destroy firearms used in the shootings to help Joseph Ortiz avoid arrest as well as to hinder the investigation of the shootings. In addition, the next day, the elder Ortiz drove his son out of the Bay Area and later helped him flee to Mexico. Michael Ortiz, Sr. also helped hide a critical witness from law enforcement in Mexico.

The charges are the result of a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Daly City and South San Francisco police departments, with the assistance provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

"This sentence should serve as a warning about the consequences facing gang members who use violence and intimidation to further their criminal enterprises," said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "Homeland Security Investigations will continue to use all of the resources and authorities at its disposal to attack and dismantle the dangerous transnational gangs operating in the Bay Area."

Michael Ortiz, Sr., pleaded guilty July 10 to being an accessory after the fact to racketeering murder; conspiring to obstruct justice; obstruction of justice; and concealment of an object to obstruct an investigation.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston handed down the 70-month sentence. Judge Illston also ordered the defendant to serve a three-year term of supervised release during which he may be searched by any federal, state, or local law enforcement officer with or without cause.

Joseph Ortiz, aka "Little Vicious," a member of the 500 Block/C Street Gang, pleaded guilty to the racketeering murders July 19. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 8.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Acadia L. Senese and W.S. Wilson Leung, with the assistance of Kevin Costello, Ponly Tu, Marina Ponomarchuk, and Daniel Charlier-Smith. Of the 19 defendants originally charged as a result of the probe, 14 have pleaded guilty to racketeering-related charges and/or offenses related to the obstruction of justice.