By Aaron Blevins, 1/17/2013
A federal criminal defense attorney was sentenced on Jan. 10 to seven years in federal prison for his conviction on racketeering and money laundering offenses committed on behalf of the Mexican Mafia and the 18th Street gang.
Isaac Guillen, 52, received the 84-month sentence from United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson. He was a member of a street gang during his late teens, leaving that life behind to attend the UCLA School of Law and become a successful criminal defense attorney.
Guillen, however, became an associate of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos clique of the 18th Street gang while doing legal work for a member of that criminal street gang. The former attorney admitted that he used the shield of the attorney-client privilege to relay gang communications to and from convicted Mexican Mafia member Francisco “Puppet” Martinez, who was serving multiple life sentences at the federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colo.
With Guillen’s help, Martinez was able to continue to run the Columbia Lil’ Cycos from behind the walls of the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility, which is regarded as the nation’s most secure prison.
In addition to facilitating communications between Martinez and the Columbia Lil’ Cycos’ leadership, Guillen laundered more than $1.3 million dollars in drug and extortion proceeds on the organization’s behalf by, among other things, creating three businesses and providing funds for the establishment of a methamphetamine laboratory.
The State Bar of California disbarred Guillen in late 2010.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the Columbia Lil’ Cycos used violence and intimidation to control narcotics distribution in an area adjoining MacArthur Park in the Westlake District of Los Angeles. Under the orders of CLCS 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 to sell narcotics in the gang’s territory.
Those who paid rent received the exclusive authorization to sell narcotics in Columbia Lil’ Cycos territory, as well as protection from rivals. Street vendors operating in the gang’s territory also were required to pay rent to the organization in order to be allowed to sell their wares near MacArthur Park.
The Columbia Lil’ Cycos made tens of thousands of dollars a week through its collection of rent and other crimes, according to authorities. The failure or refusal to pay rent and otherwise follow the gang’s rules would result in retribution, including acts of violence.
The Columbia Lil’ Cycos racketeering case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department.