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Attorney General Bill McCollum Press Release
Member of Dangerous Manatee County Gang Gets 30 Years in Prison
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that a Manatee County gang member has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of criminal racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Jimmy Sanchez is a member of the SUR-13 criminal street gang operating in Manatee County. Sanchez and 13 co-defendants were prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
The verdict was returned last night by a Manatee County jury after just over two hours of deliberation. Sanchez was immediately sentenced to 30 years in prison by Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Debra Johnes Riva.
Sanchez and fellow members of SUR-13 frequently engaged in robberies and various weapons offenses, including drive-by shootings. Sanchez and his co-defendants were arrested in July 2007 by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Sanchez’s co-defendant, Orlando Valenzuela, was previously convicted by the 12th Circuit State Attorney’s Office for the shooting death of Stacy Willams III, a nine-year old boy who was caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting while riding his bicycle.
The gang members were charged with criminal racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering, a new strategy employed by state prosecutors. Using the racketeering charge, authorities target the gang as an organized criminal enterprise, often useful when witnesses or victims are unwilling to testify against the gang members.
The prosecution of the gang members is part of the Attorney General’s statewide gang reduction strategy. The other pillars of the strategy focus on preventing children from being recruited and providing rehabilitation to incarcerated gang members so they may re-enter society without returning their previous gang lifestyle.