Four Members of 18th Street Gang Clique Convicted of Charges Relating to the 2007 Killing of 3-Week-Old Baby BoyMay 14th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon
On a warm Saturday night in mid-September 2007, a 22-year-old gang member named Giovanni Macedo waded into a crowd near MacArthur Park and—as he had been told to do—opened fire on a street vender who had failed to pay the gang of which Macado was a member $50. Specifically, Macedo claims membership in the Columbia Lil’ Cycos (CLCS), a clique of the 18th Street gang, was reportedly ordered to shoot the vender by members of his clique who were more senior than he was.
Although he did what he was told, he wasn’t a great shot. He hit the vender four times, but the wounds fortunately were not fatal.
Yet another of Macedo’s bullets went way wide of the mark with truly tragic results. A woman, a friend of the vender, was standing nearby with her 23-day-old baby, Luis Angel Garcia, who was in his stroller. One of Macedo’s errant bullets hit the tiny boy and killed him.
The shooting, as mentioned above, was over money. Extortion, to be specific.
There is a longstanding pattern in which the EME—the Mexican Mafia—requires “taxes” to be paid by anyone, namely gangs, who sells narcotics in areas of town it considers to be under its jurisdiction. Traditionally, they collect the taxes from the Latino gangs over which they excert power.
In the past few years, however, the EME has extended it’s taxing strategy to various kinds of people who are not gang involved and not selling drugs. In an around MacArthur Park that evidently meant the street venders who sold various wares in the area—clothing, knickknacks, food, that sort of thing. The street gangs were the collectors of the money and the deliverers of threats, to persuade the venders to pay up. Extortion, in other words.
The greater portion of the extortion money, which piled up into considerable amounts each month, reportedly went up the food chain to EME hire ups.
This particular vender didn’t like being extorted and said no to the demand for $50. After several go-rounds, the gang members decided the vender had to be “dealt with.” The order went out from those at the top of the clique to shoot the vender. The rest of the tragedy unfolded from there.
As it happens, the EME is not at all in favor of shooting uninvolved 23-day-old babies. In fact the Big Brothers, so to speak, were very unhappy about the matter, and held all the Columbia Lil’ Cycos responsible.
To fix matters, the CLCSs were told to kill their shooter, Giovanni Macedo. Otherwise there would be “consequences” of a dire nature for the gang as a whole.
A kidnapping plot was concocted to kidnap Macedo and to take him to Mexico on the pretense of getting him out of town for his own good, to avoid arrest. Instead, once in Mexico Macedo was strangled. A rope was looped around his neck, and then he was tossed by his former friends off the side of a raised road in an isolated area.
Unbeknownst to the kidnapper/stranglers, Macedo did not, however, die. Instead, he lived to be brought back to the US to testify in great detail for the Feds. (In return for his cooperation, he was sentenced in a plea deal to 51 years and four months prison for the killing of baby Luis.)
The result of Macedo’s testimony plus that of a list of others was that, on this past Friday afternoon, four additional members of the CLCS clique were found guilty of a pile of RICO charges, namely participating in a racketeering enterprise responsible for the September 2007 shooting of the street vendor and the murder of baby Luis—and the attempted hanging of their fellow homeboy Macedo too.
With Friday’s guilty verdicts, a total of 37 people have been convicted in the same RICO case investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the LAPD.
The four defendants found guilty on Friday, one of them the main Mexico kidnapper, are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson in September.
Those involved with the case at the US Attorney’s office seemed particularly satisfied with Friday’s verdict.
US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr stated for WitnessLA, “To me this case represents the advantages of a focused, selective strategy that targets the very worst offenders for prosecution. The results here will resonate loudly among the gang and also the neighborhood where the gang operates. The message that this case sends is that no one— not even a gang leader or shot-caller—is either above or outside the law. And that is a message that we are proud to send.”
Photo by Brian Van der Brug, Los Angeles Times