El Monte neighborhood

Forty-one alleged members and associates of a gang that operates in El Monte were indicted on a range of charges, federal officials announced. (Mapping L.A. / July 30, 2014)

More than three dozen alleged members and associates of a San Gabriel Valley gang said to be controlled by the Mexican Mafia were indicted on a range of murder, robbery, drug trafficking and other charges, federal officials announced Wednesday.

Of the 41 defendants named in the 167-page federal racketeering indictment, 17 were arrested Wednesday morning, 15 were already in custody and nine are still at large, according to the Department of Justice.

The El Monte Flores gang was formed in the 1960s and operates in El Monte and South El Monte. Since its origin, more than 800 people have been identified as members or associates, officials said. It receives direction from the Mexican Mafia prison gang, according to the indictment.

The investigating task force on the case included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation unit and the El Monte Police Department.

The 62-count indictment alleges that members of the gang commit violent crimes ranging from battery to murder, as well as robbery, burglary, carjacking, witness intimidation, kidnapping, weapons trafficking, credit card fraud and identity theft. 

The indictment points to the execution of a former Mexican Mafia member and four other people in an El Monte home in 1995, alleging they were killed by co-conspirators hired by a gang member.

The indictment also alleges the gang commits hate crimes against blacks in El Monte and South El Monte "in an effort to rid these cities of all African Americans.” 

The gang maintained a presence at a Boys & Girls Club in El Monte, where members openly sold drugs, held gang meetings and even hosted a car-wash fundraiser, according to the Department of Justice.

A person who answered the phone at the club said he was unaware of the allegations and declined to make anyone else available to The Times for comment.

Authorities also allege in the indictment that gang members collect "taxes" from drug dealers who operate in the area -- particularly at Crawford's Plaza and the Klingerman apartments -- and use violence and intimation to maintain control.

In addition to the acts of violence, the defendants face various charges, including racketeering, drug and weapons-related charges, money laundering and being an undocumented immigrant after previously being deported.

Those taken into custody were scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

If convicted, all of the defendants could face up to 20 years in prison for violating a federal racketeering law and potentially decades more, depending on each defendant's individual charges.

One defendant, 33-year-old Johnny Mata, could face the death penalty if convicted of being the shooter in the killing of a rival gang member on Christmas Eve in 2010, according to federal prosecutors.

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