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Mongols leader makes plea deal in racketeering case

Documents filed by U.S. in attempt to seize gang's assets show Ruben 'Doc' Cavazos will face up to life in prison when he is sentenced next year.

July 08, 2009|Carol J. Williams

Former Mongols motorcycle gang leader Ruben "Doc" Cavazos faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty to a single racketeering charge among 86 counts accusing gang members of murder, assault, robbery and drug-trafficking, court documents show.

The plea deal between Cavazos and the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles was made in January but sealed until June 29, when the government filed for forfeiture of the gang's registered trademarks under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act.

The RICO charges have allowed the government to shut down the gang's website and bar commercial use of registered trademarks as financial activity in service to criminal enterprise.

In filing for forfeiture, the U.S. attorney's office said Cavazos' guilty plea allowed the government to force the gang to give up its assets despite an attempt late last year by then-Mongols President Hector Gonzalez to transfer ownership to a new gang.

The proceeds generated by the Mongols' enterprise was valued at $5 million and its property subject to forfeiture includes a West Covina residence, as well as the Mongols' trademarked insignia, according to the 177-page indictment brought in October.

A three-year undercover sting operation infiltrated the gang of about 600 bikers that was active in a dozen states as well as Mexico and Canada.

Among the allegations made against Cavazos and a handful of other leaders in the Mongols' mother chapter were charges of conspiracy with the Mexican Mafia and other Los Angeles-based gangs to control drug-trafficking by means of murder, robbery, extortion, money-laundering and witness intimidation.

Congress enacted RICO "to provide new weapons of unprecedented scope for an assault upon organized crime and its economic roots," the indictment said.

Several others among the 79 gang members arrested last year have also entered guilty pleas, documents filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles reveal. Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, declined to specify how many defendants have entered guilty pleas, saying that some aspects of the case remain under seal.

Mrozek said Cavazos will face up to life in prison when he is sentenced in February, but the details of his plea deal were not disclosed.

Other defendants who have entered guilty pleas to the same charge face maximum sentences of 20 years.

Phone calls seeking comment from Cavazos' federal public defender, Angel Navarro, were not returned.

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carol.williams@latimes.com

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