A multi-jurisdictional task force this afternoon sought 23 other fugitives as part of ``Operation Smokin' Aces,''
So far, 129 gang members and their wives or girlfriends have been indicted so far in state and federal courts, Laura Eimiller of the FBI said.
The raids were an extension of Operation Black Flag, a similar Mexican Mafica crackdown in July 2011, Bertagna said. About 100 people were charged in the raid targeting ``shot-callers,'' U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.
Today, law enforcement officers targeted ``street soldiers,'' as well as their wives and girlfriends, who are mainly responsible for smuggling messages, or ``kites,'' out of prison from the shot-callers, Birotte said.
``In some ways, that's a first,'' Birotte said of targeting wives and girlfriends. ``They play a critical role when (gang members are) in prison because they've got to get a message out.''
Three alleged gang members, who were not part of the indictments, have been charged with murder in a related case that was a hit ordered by the Mexican Mafia, Rackauckas said.
In February, the trial of three men arrested for a 2009 beating in Theo Lacy jail two years ago ended with plea agreements when jurors could not find enough common ground for a unanimous verdict.
Peter Ojeda, one of the reputed leaders of a gang in the Mexican Mafia and other co-defendants were indicted in Operation Black Flag and scheduled to be tried March 25.
Smokin' Aces is a reference to law enforcement ``smoking out'' the
During the most recently probe, undercover officers bought 67 weapons, seized 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.5 pounds of heroin and three pounds of cocaine. Thirty-eight of the weapons were handguns and 29 were rifles.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Erik Petersen said Operation Black Flag focused on criminal activity that stemmed from a feud between Ojeda and another gang leader, Armando ``Mando'' Moreno, while the latest operation relates to violence involving Ojeda's alleged desire to ``clean house'' after prevailing over Moreno's attempt to take over Mexican Mafia operations in Orange County, Petersen added.
Robert Gaxiola, 43, and Jose Anguiano, 35, are believed to be in
The three were charged Monday with a count of conspiracy to commit murder and murder with sentencing enhancements for murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose and committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang. Esquivel is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
Esquivel is an alleged high-ranking gang member who lives in
They are accused of killing 39-year-old Juanita Carillo-Ortiz in a
Carillo-Ortiz's killers burned the body and dumped it in a remote part of
Carillo-Ortiz allegedly told Orange County gangsters that she represented the Mexican Mafia in Los Angeles and had authority to collect ``taxes'' while ordering Orange County gang members not to pay ``taxes'' to area gang leaders, Petersen alleged.
``She may or may not have had orders from the Los Angeles Mexican Mafia,'' Peterson said. ``She probably would not take that up on her own.''
Authorities recovered her body, exhumed it in
Law enforcement officers involved in the raids included members of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Orange County District Attorney's Office, the FBI, federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Internal Revenue Service,