Orange County gang member sentenced in connection with Mexican Mafia racketeering case – Orange County Register

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An Orange County gang member, who got caught up in a federal Mexican Mafia racketeering case after police arrested him on his way to assault another man on Christmas Day 2017 on the orders of a gang chieftain, was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison.

Alex Gonzalez, 33, also was ordered to spend three years of supervised release after his release from lockup after reaching a plea deal in which he admitted to having a .9mm handgun loaded with hollow point bullets during a police traffic stop in 2017.

Gonzalez was on his way to carry out an assault ordered by Johnny Martinez, who at the time was a leader of a local street gang and who since has become the purported leader of the Orange County faction of the Mexican Mafia, according to court filings.

From a prison cell, Martinez is accused of reaching out to Omar Mejia, his alleged “shot caller,” to order an assault on a man who Martinez believed was “using drugs with, and making advances toward,” Martinez’s girlfriend, prosecutors wrote in court filings.

Investigators “intercepted” a call between Martinez and Mejia in which Martinez told Mejia to get “Hitman” — which prosecutors identified as Gonzalez’s street name — to attack the man he allegedly believed had been spending time with Martinez’s girlfriend, according to the prosecution filings.

Officers spotted Gonzalez riding in a car that was headed toward the would-be victim’s home, prosecutors wrote. During a car stop, Gonzalez resisted police and “a struggle ensued,” in which a firearm fell out of his waistband, prosecutors wrote.

In 2022, Martinez, alleged high-level Mexican Mafia associates, including Mejia, and alleged lower level gang members with suspected ties to the Mexican Mafia, including Gonzalez, were named in a federal indictment alleging that those connected to the powerful, prison-based Mexican Mafia had carried out murders, attempted murders and a variety of drug and gun-related crimes.

Comprised of senior members of Latino street gangs, the Mexican Mafia exerts widespread control over gang activity across Southern California. Those who deal drugs in gang-controlled territories or traffic narcotics in and out of lockup are “taxed” by Mexican Mafia leaders. And those who ignore or refuse to follow the Mexican Mafia’s rules or orders are often targeted for assaults or even death.

In a sentencing memo, prosecutors wrote that Gonzalez previously ransacked the home of a man who had allowed his girlfriend to stay at his home. They also described Gonzalez, in 201 5, hitting a girlfriend in the face while she was holding the couple’s 1-month-old baby.

“Defendant’s history and conduct show a quick and ready willingness to act violently and a persistent disrespect for the law,” prosecutors wrote.

Gonzalez’s defense attorney wrote in his own sentencing memo that between being pulled over in 2017 and charged in 2022 Gonzalez had turned his life around. Gonzalez overcame the drug addiction he had struggled with since the age of 13, his attorney wrote, had left behind the gang life and had become a plumber.

The defense attorney argued that Gonzalez had grown up poor in a gang-infested, drug-ridden neighborhood. His mother abandoned Gonzalez when he was 2 years old, the defense attorney wrote, and his father left when he was 4. Gonzalez later took on the same “Hitman” street moniker that his father had used when the father was a member of the same gang, the defense attorney added.

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