LOS ANGELES – A member of the 18th Street gang has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison following his conviction on two narcotics trafficking charges involving the sale of about two ounces of methamphetamine during an undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Aaron “Droopy” Ramos, 31, a resident of the Florence-Graham district of Los Angeles, was sentenced Monday afternoon to 168 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder.
Following a jury trial in December, Ramos was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine. Ramos was also convicted at trial in 2014, but that conviction was reversed by Judge Snyder because of comments made by a juror.
“Drug trafficking continues to be a core activity of street gangs,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Taking this violent drug trafficker off of our streets both protects the community and cuts off a source of funding for the gang.”
A second defendant in the case – Sharon “Hyper” Paiz, 35, of Lancaster – who obtained the narcotics involved in the transaction, pleaded guilty and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison when she is sentenced by Judge Snyder June 20.
In court papers, prosecutors argued that Ramos was a high-ranking member of the 18th Street gang and that he was the driver in a fatal drive-by shooting. Ramos “was involved in a drive-by shooting simply for sport,” according to a sentencing memo filed in the case. “The shooting was a gang initiation that resulted in the death of a non-gang member [Ramos] was supervising in his leadership role.” Ramos was convicted in relation to this shooting in state court and has nearly completed an 8-year prison sentence.
This investigation was part of HSI’s Operation Community Shield, a global initiative, where HSI collaborates with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs in the United States and abroad. Through its domestic and international Operation Community Shield task forces, HSI leverages its worldwide presence and expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to mitigate the threats posted by these global networks, often through the tracing and seizing of cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.
Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have arrested more than 40,000 street gang members and associates linked to more than 2,600 different gangs.
The National Gang Unit oversees HSI’s expansive transnational gang portfolio and enables special agents to bring the fight to these criminal enterprises through the development of uniform enforcement and intelligence-sharing strategies.
To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or visit www.ice.gov.