Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
December 14, 2007
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Manatee County Gang Members get Prison Sentences for Criminal Racketeering Charges
~ Brown Pride Locos targeted by state officials for organized crime ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced a significant victory in the fight against gang violence with prison sentences obtained for four Manatee County gang members. The individuals were each charged with criminal racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering for their participation in Brown Pride Locos, a violent street gang that has terrorized Manatee County through robberies, assaults, violence against law enforcement and other dangerous crimes. The men were prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution in conjunction with the State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Judicial Circuit.
“We must continue to protect our state by stopping these organized groups of criminals from threatening our communities,” said Attorney General McCollum. “We are going to do everything within our power to prosecute gang members to the fullest extent of the law and send them to prison for substantial periods of time.”
Sentenced today were the following individuals: Justino "Crazy" Santana, 25, sentenced to three years in prison and three years of probation; Fernando "Freddy" Chavez, 22, sentenced to four years in prison and two years of probation; and Jose "Payaso" Luis Rodriguez, 21, sentenced to 71 months in prison to run concurrently with a 15-year sentence for trafficking cocaine. Pedro "Perico" Garcia, 25, was also sentenced to six years in prison which will run consecutively with another four-year sentence on separate charges and then will serve three years of probation after his release. State prosecutors used the racketeering charge to target the gang as an organized criminal enterprise, often useful when witnesses or victims are unwilling or unable to testify against the gang members. Racketeering charges also provide for stronger sentences.
Gang leader Jose “Charlie Brown” Lopez, was sentenced to seven years in prison in September. Lopez and his co-conspirators were arrested in January through a joint effort by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Bradenton Police Department. Three additional gang members, Frank “Magoo” Alvarez, Alberto Gutierrez and “Pistol” Pete Garcia, already pleaded to charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Alvarez has been sentenced to seven years in prison; Gutierrez and Garcia will be sentenced at a later date. A tenth member, Eric "E" J. Santiago, will be tried in January.
To address the gang issue on a statewide level, the Attorney General’s Office launched a statewide grand jury in August to investigate criminal gang activity including crimes involving narcotics or other dangerous drugs, robbery and gambling, as well as violations of the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization (RICO) Act. The jurors are also studying various criminal issues and make recommendations to the legislature on needed laws to deter gang activities and punish those involved in these pursuits. This morning, the Office of Statewide Prosecution announced the first indictments returned by the grand jury against 10 members of another dangerous statewide gang, SUR-13. Each gang member will be charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
A copy of the charging document against the Brown Pride Locos gang members is available here.