Friday, September 21, 2007

Members of San Manuel Indians Linked to Mexican Mafia (Press Enterprise Sept 19, 2007)

BS Ranch Perspective

This is just a case where there is just large amounts of money is dropped off, in this case for Gaming, and it is a business that is is normal for this to be going on. In this kind of Games there is always large amounts of Cash laying around, flowing into the business, and it is always a target for Gangs to use as a filter for Money Laundering, to clean the money and massive amount of monies that they take in for the business of Drugs. Back in the Early 90's in The City of Rialto had an area known as 'The Woods' (Given that name by the streets in the area. [Glenwood, Beechwood, Amberwood, etc etc...]) were serving several Search Warrants on several Apartments in the 200 Block of N. Glenwood Ave. And Some Apartments located in 210 N. Beechwood Ave.  and One on Lorraine Place. One of the Apartments on Glenwood Ave had over a million dollars worth of Crack Cocaine in the apartment, and very little money, however the bank for the Gang was located in another Apartment also named in the Warrants, in 210 N. Beechwood Ave.  The Living Room had $1.5 Million in $100's& $20's all Stacked in nice neat stacks in the middle of the living room floor all the way into the kitchen/dinning area.

Now if the Indian Tribes are caught to have been doing business with the Gangs with whom Deal drugs, then there is no telling how much money is Drug money and how much money is not drug money, and how much has been laundered into the casino. Now, all the trust that the Indian tribal councils have been asking from the public in these last elections are all washed up!! in fact they are all filled with mud!!

In my opinion, the regulatory commission that was being asked for back two elections ago, which was voted down by the public as a request by the Indian Tribal Council, Should have been voted into effect, and the state should have had an Oversight Committee on Gambling and the Casino's in the State of California!!  This might have prevented the money laundering that has taken place in California. After all when they originally were calling for this type of oversight I was calling for the same oversight as what Nevada has for their Casino's Have!! After all Nevada has cleaned up their Money Laundering problems there, now it is California's Turn. Lets call in a States Oversight, and Audits!!

BS Ranch

Members of San Manuel Indians linked to Mexican Mafia

  Download story podcast

10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The Press-Enterprise

Authorities say that several members of a wealthy Inland gambling tribe have links to the Mexican Mafia and other criminal gangs, according to law-enforcement officials and documents from a pending court case.

Among the members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians with alleged gang ties, two are charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a case involving gang members, according to authorities. They were arrested during a drug bust at the reservation and in the San Bernardino area in December.

Suspected Mexican Mafia members, arrested in the same Drug Enforcement Administration-related raids, are co-defendants in the murder-conspiracy case, which is scheduled to return Wednesday to San Bernardino County Superior Court. A preliminary hearing could be scheduled at that time.

An analysis of court records in that case and others involving tribal members, along with interviews with law-enforcement officials, show that at least four members of the 200-person tribe are suspected of having ties to criminal gangs.

Among the findings:

Law enforcement authorities say that tribal member Stacy Cheyenne Barajas-Nunez, 24, has bought vehicles for gang members suspected in crimes, has hidden suspects and has served as a financial backer for gangs.

Barajas-Nunez and her brother, Erik Barajas, 34, were arrested Dec. 12 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder along with reputed members of the Mexican Mafia. Barajas-Nunez also faces drug charges. The two have pleaded innocent.

Authorities identify tribal member Robert Vincent Martinez III, 27, as a gang member who was charged with attempted murder in connection with a 2004 shooting outside The Brass Key, a Highland bar. The charges were later dismissed.

Authorities say tribal member Valerie Gonzales, 29, allowed her 1997 black BMW to be used by her boyfriend at the time, a suspected gang member charged with killing four gang leaders in 2000. Authorities said Luis Alonso Mendoza, the boyfriend, used her car to get to and from the scene of the killings.

The San Manuel tribe said in a written statement and interview that officials are cooperating with investigators and working to protect the casino, patrons and tribal members from criminals.

"Truly, the tribe is looking absolutely at being part of the solution. San Manuel Indian reservation is not the problem. The problem is countywide, regionwide, in fact, it's all over the country," said Jacob Coin, director of communications for the tribe. "We are just in the way -- the path -- of these kinds of criminal activities."

Coin said the tribe has a security checkpoint where guests are stopped before getting access to reservation homes, but "crime finds a way to infiltrate even the safest and most secure of cities."

One court record, listed as "DEA sensitive," described an October meeting between law-enforcement officials, including a San Manuel security staff member and a San Bernardino police officer. They discussed fears that Mexican Mafia "gang members had infiltrated the Indian reservation and were extorting some of the tribal members for money."

San Manuel tribal members receive profit checks -- listed in court documents as $100,000 a month -- from the casino, which draws customers from across Southern California.

Coin would not address that allegation about casino-profit checks.

"The tribal government would have no real way to control how the tribal members spend it," he said.

'Particularly Vulnerable'

Critics of California's Indian gambling industry argued a decade ago that tribal casinos would be vulnerable to organized crime without strict outside regulation, much as Las Vegas was until regulation increased.

An investigation by a U.S. Senate committee in the 1950s found widespread evidence of criminal influence and skimming in Las Vegas casinos, prompting a crackdown on criminal involvement in casinos and forcing the mob eventually to sell their casino interests.

Tribal casinos are regulated by a tribal gambling agency, state agencies and the federal government. State and federal regulators said they were unfamiliar with possible connections between San Manuel members and organized crime, but many have warned against the risk for years.

Federal investigators this year said they busted an organized crime ring based in San Diego County. They accused the group of running card-cheating scams in 10 Indian casinos, including some in Southern California.

"They're particularly vulnerable to organized crime inside and out," said Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office. "Any casino that is handling large amounts of cash -- it's a potential target for criminal activity."

The National Indian Gaming Commission, a federal agency charged with limiting organized crime influence in Indian casinos, has not found any violations at the San Manuel casino, said Shawn Pensoneau, a spokesman for the commission.

The tribe defended its regulatory system in its written statement.

"The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, like other tribes engaged in government gaming, has instituted strong and effective regulatory and oversight systems at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino," the statement said. "The regulatory efforts are led by the tribe's own gaming commission and surveillance and security agencies. Beyond that, the casino complies with the myriad of state and federal laws and regulations aimed at protecting the gaming activities from undue influences and corruption."

Drug Bust

Deputy District Attorney Cheryl Kersey, the leading gang prosecutor for San Bernardino County, said she has noticed a connection between Hispanic gangs in Southern California and San Manuel tribal members in recent years.

Kersey is the prosecutor in the case involving Barajas, Barajas-Nunez and brothers Salvador Orozco Hernandez, 42, and Alfred Orozco Hernandez, 38, described as gang members in police records.

They were arrested when authorities raided four homes on the reservation and others off the reservation in December as part of a seven-month undercover DEA investigation targeting the Mexican Mafia and its methamphetamine trafficking and street crime, officials said at the time.

The Mexican Mafia, which controls territory from the Mexican border to Bakersfield, uses its power to run a criminal empire inside and outside prison walls, according to prison and law enforcement sources.

At a Dec. 12 news conference, authorities announced that 400 Inland law-enforcement officers working with the DEA executed 43 search warrants that resulted in 19 arrests and the seizure of $1 million in methamphetamine and cash as well as 56 guns.

According to court records from the DEA case, all four -- the Hernandez brothers as well as Barajas-Nunez and her brother, Erik -- are charged with conspiracy to commit murder as well as carrying out the crime in association of, and to benefit, a criminal street gang.

Salvador Hernandez, described in the court documents as a top Mexican Mafia member in Southern California, and Barajas-Nunez, a tribal member, are charged in the same counts of transporting and possessing methamphetamine.

In court documents, Barajas-Nunez is described as helping support gang members' families and paying rent and providing vehicles for gang members. Authorities say she has bailed gang members out of jail.

According to a DEA document in the case, Alfred Hernandez plotted to sell a half-pound of methamphetamine during a meeting at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino with an unnamed buyer.

On Wednesday, Barajas-Nunez said in a brief telephone conversation that she is frustrated by the charges. Her attorney, Albert Perez Jr., said that the allegations against his client are not true.

"The authorities do what they do," Perez said. "We're still trying to figure all this out -- that's the God-honest truth."

Mayra Romero, 27, identified in court records as a close friend, described Barajas-Nunez as a full-time married mother of four boys -- two 15-year-olds she adopted and two other children, ages 3 and 4.

"They're painting her as this mafia person, drug-dealer, and that's not her," Romero said. "Anybody who knows her, knows she's all about her four kids."

Calls made to the Bloomington home of Salvador Hernandez were not returned.

In a December interview at the house, Janet Hernandez described her husband as a good father and husband who worked as a steel cutter.

The conspiracy to commit murder charges against Barajas-Nunez, Barajas and the Hernandez brothers stem from an alleged plot to murder the manager of The Brass Key, a Highland bar. The business is owned by Greg Duro, son of tribal Chairman Henry Duro.

Fatal Shootings

The former manager, who is not being identified, said he believed he was the target in the murder-conspiracy scheme because he was friends with James Seay, a bar patron and brother of former San Diego Chargers football player Mark Seay, according to court documents. Court records don't make clear why the manager was targeted.

James Seay was shot and wounded in front of The Brass Key on May 17, 2004. Tribal member Robert Vincent Martinez III was charged in the case, but the charges were later dismissed, records show.

Seay, citing his lost wages and injuries, sued Martinez on May 9, 2005. In court records, Martinez's lawyer, Trent Copeland, referred to the suit as a "sham" and "extortion."

Nonetheless, Martinez settled the case. Police records show Seay was then fatally shot in front of his mother's house in San Bernardino within days of receiving a settlement of more than $500,000. The killing remains unsolved.

In what authorities describe as another link, tribal member Valerie Gonzales also has ties to gang members who are charged with murdering four gang leaders in 2000, Kersey said.

Gonzales was dating Luis Alonso Mendoza , 31, law enforcement officials said. Authorities say he used her car July 9, 2000, when the gang members were slain. The three defendants -- Mendoza, Lorenzo Inez Arias and John Adrian Ramirez -- face the death penalty if convicted.

The shootings were dubbed the "Dead Presidents" murders because the deceased were suspected of being gang leaders.

Opening statements for all three defendants are expected to begin in mid-January in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Staff writer Paige Austin contributed to this report.

No comments: