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Valencia woman arrested in FBI gang roundup

Posted: December 11, 2013 11:03 a.m.
Updated: December 11, 2013 11:03 a.m.

A 40-year-old Valencia woman was one of 20 people arrested Tuesday by the FBI and identified as either MS-13 gang members or associates for their roles in a drug trafficking network and extortion scheme.

Sandra Hernandez Chinchila was arrested Tuesday without incident and charged with one count of distribution of methamphetamine, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told The Signal today.

“We worked with the (Santa Clarita Valley) Sheriff’s on the arrest,” she said. “All the arrests were made without incident.”

Chinchila was named in indictment with two other defendants - 32-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia, also known as “Duende” and 34-year-old Jorge Orellana, aka “Spike” - filed by the FBI with the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

The three were indicted by a grand jury in October, according to a copy of the indictment obtained by The Signal.

The indictment alleges: “On or about March 26, 2012, in Los Angeles County, within the Central District of California, defendants Juan Carlos Garcia, also known as “Duende,” and Sandra Chinchila knowingly and intentionally distributed at least 50 grams, that is, approximately 79.9 grams, of methamphetamine, a Scheduled II controlled substance.”

It further states that on or about April 25, 2012, Garcia and Orellana: “each aiding abetting the other” knowingly and intentionally distributed about 71.4 grams of the same drug.

The arrests were part of a larger investigation that led to charges against 20 members and associates of the MS-13 street gang for violations, including distribution of methamphetamine and extortion leading to multiple arrests, Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said Tuesday in a written statement prepared on behalf of multiple agencies who conducted the investigation and who assisted during Tuesday’s operation.

The federal defendants were charged in indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles and unsealed Tuesday. The majority of the federal defendants are charged with distribution of methamphetamine in nine separate indictments, Lewis was quoted as saying in a news release issued Tuesday.

During this investigation, several individuals were charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office with extortion based on information obtained in this case.

Three of the federal defendants charged were already in custody prior to Tuesday’s operation; nine federal defendants were arrested during Tuesday’s operation; and one is considered a fugitive.

One defendant was arrested in Kansas City, Mo.

Those charged in the federal indictments are listed below:

Thomas Rodriguez, aka “Big Boy,” 35, Los Angeles, Arrested

Jose Rodriguez, aka “Dreamer,” 34, Los Angeles, Arrested

Jorge Orellana, aka “Spike,” 34, Los Angeles, Arrested

Anival Orellana, aka “Pantera,” 35, Los Angeles, Arrested

Juan Garcia, aka “Duende,” 32, Los Angeles, Arrested

Rogelio Lemus, aka “Sky,” 42, Los Angeles, Arrested

Elvis Molina, aka “Lil Comando,” 33, Lynwood, Fugitive

Jose Avelar, aka “Chema,” 38, Los Angeles, Arrested

Lazaro Nunez, aka “Fino,” 28, Los Angeles, Arrested

Fabel Roque, aka “Spooky,” 25, Kansas City, Arrested

Sandra Hernandez Chinchila, 40, Valencia, Arrested

Mario Morales, aka “Plucky,” already in custody on unrelated charges

Luis Vega, aka “Lil One,” 29, already in custody on unrelated charges

Edwin Castillo, aka “Directo,” 31, already in custody on unrelated charges

The state defendants are listed below:

Santos Ventura, aka “Payaso,” 30, Los Angeles

Jonathan Chavez, aka “Lento,” 25, Los Angeles

Thomas Linares, aka “Lil Lonely,” 30, Los Angeles

Oscar Chavez, 28, Los Angeles

Ivan Castro, aka Inocente,” 21, already in custody

A defendant not charged in the indictments, but linked to this case was also arrested. Candi Pascual was taken into custody based on a state bench warrant, according to the FBI news release.

The investigation focused on known members and associates of the Mara Salvatrucha (“MS-13”) street gang and its associated cliques, considered to be the largest and among the most violent gangs in the Los Angeles area, it said.

Origins of MS-13, or “Mara Salvatrucha-13,” can be traced to the Los Angeles area formed by immigrants who fled the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. The number “13” relates to the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, or “M,” a known to reference “La Eme,” or the Mexican Mafia, a California-based prison gang that exercises control over MS-13 members and other street gangs whose members pay taxes in exchange for protection. MS-13 operates in areas of Los Angeles including, but not limited to Rampart, Wilshire, Olympic, and Hollywood. The gang is estimated to have several thousand members in multiple U.S. cities, as well as throughout Central America and Mexico, and is known for its brutality.

During Tuesday’s operation, seven minor children were removed by the Department of Children and Family Services from defendants’ residences, the FBI reported.

If convicted of the charges, defendants face statutory maximum sentences ranging from ten years to life in prison.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Violent Gang Task Force, with participation from agents and officers with the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department; U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

Throughout this investigation and during Tuesday’s operation, the task force received assistance from multiple law enforcement partners, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and the Department of Child and Family Services. FBI Agents in Missouri assisted with the arrest of one subject.

The federal defendants will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. The District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles will prosecute the defendants charged with state violations.


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