The federal government scored another victory Friday in a high-profile case against one of Southern California’s most violent gangs.
A jury found four “high-ranking” members of the Columbia Lil' Cycos clique of the 18th Street Gang guilty on racketeering and murder charges.
“The results in this case are proof that the members and the leaders of the 18th Street Gang will be held accountable for the violence and intimidation they use in their efforts to terrorize the law-abiding residents of the city of Los Angeles,” United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. said.
The four defendants found guilty are Eduardo Hernandez, 35; Vladimir Iraheta, 31; Leonidas Iraheta, 31; and Javier Perez, 35. All face potential sentences of life without parole in federal prison.
Prosecutors said they are leaders in Colombia Lil’ Cycos or CLCS. For years, the gang has operated in the bustling immigrant neighborhoods around MacArthur Park, just west of downtown L.A.
In a press release, prosecutors said the CLCS organization used violence and intimidation to control narcotics distribution. Under the orders of gang leadership, narcotics suppliers and street dealers paid “rent” — typically a percentage of proceeds from the sale of narcotics — in exchange for permission from the CLCS organization to sell narcotics in the organization’s territory, prosecutors said.
In 2007, members of CLCS killed a 3-week-old girl as they shot at a street vendor who’d refused to pay them $50. The infant was sitting in a stroller next to the vendor’s cart. The incident helped spark the current case.
For more than a decade, prosecutors have been using federal racketeering laws to go after L.A. street gangs on murder, drug and money laundering charges. Thirty-seven people have been convicted in the case against the Colombia Lil’ Cycos. The defendants included an attorney who laundered more than a million dollars in drug and extortion proceeds on behalf of the gang.
“The members of the 18th Street Gang, including those convicted today, thought that they controlled neighborhoods and territory within this city,” Birotte said. “Today’s verdicts prove otherwise, and law enforcement at every level will work together to continue to make our streets safe.”