By Edwin Folven, 1/24/2013
A member of the 18th Street criminal street gang has been sentenced to life in federal prison after being convicted on racketeering offenses relating to a September 2007 shooting of a street vendor near MacArthur Park that resulted in the murder of a 23-day-old infant.
United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson sentenced Javier Perez, 35. There is no parole in the federal corrections system.
Perez was one of four defendants — all of whom were members or associates of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos clique of the 18th Street gang — who were found guilty of federal racketeering offenses last May.
The three other defendants are Eduardo Hernandez, 35; Vladimir Iraheta, 31; and Leonidas Iraheta, 31. Their sentencing hearings are scheduled for today and tomorrow in the downtown federal courthouse.
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. Narcotics suppliers and street vendors were required to pay “rent” — typically a percentage of proceeds from sales — in exchange for permission from the gang to operate in the area.
A street vendor who refused to make a $50 rent payment was shot on Sept. 15, 2007. The victim survived despite being shot four times. A 23-day-old infant sleeping in a stroller next to the vendor was struck by the gunfire, however, and killed.
Shortly after the failed attempt to murder the vendor and the death of the child, gang leaders ordered the kidnapping and murder of the gunman in order to make amends with the Mexican Mafia. The gunman was taken to Mexico by Perez and other members of the gang under the false pretense that the he would hide there from police. Once in Mexico, the alleged gunman was driven to a remote area where he was strangled and thrown over a cliff. The gunman survived the attempt on his life, according to authorities. The gang associate who assisted Perez in strangling the gunman was later convicted in state court and sentenced to life without parole.