A federal judge sentenced an El Sereno man and former 18th Street gang member to 24 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a federal drug trafficking offense and admitting he murdered a man who had failed to pay “taxes” to the Mexican Mafia.
U.S.District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald sentenced Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, 39, on Monday to 24 years.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Fitzgerald said it was “difficult to imagine a more egregious crime in federal court” and that the defendant had “stolen hope” from the victim’s family.
Garcia plead guilty last year to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in a case that targeted the San Gabriel Valley-based Puente-13 gang.
In addition, the drug trafficking included collecting “taxes” or “rent” on behalf of the Mexican Mafia member who controlled Puente-13, Garcia admitted that he murdered another gang member who failed to make those extortion payments.
“This defendant killed another human being in cold blood to further his own criminal credentials and to further his drug trafficking career,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker.
Adding, “While he may have believed he could get away with murder, the hard work and dedication of law enforcement and prosecutors in my office ensured that he was held accountable. This case is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of gang violence on our community and the severe consequences that will result from participating in those criminal enterprises.”
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Garcia admitted that in 2006 he and two members of Puente-13 lured another gang member to an apartment complex, where Garcia executed the victim with a bullet to the head.
Garcia was acting at the behest of leaders of Puente-13, who targeted the victim, a Valinda man named David Dragna, because Dragna was suspected of taking drug money that was intended for the Mexican Mafia.
At Monday’s sentencing, Dragna’s sister lamented the loss of her “best friend and the person who taught her how to ride a bike, drive a car, and went on [her] first date as a chaperone.”
She described the devastation the murder caused her family who, for the past decade, had been desperately waiting for the day that they would see justice be done, according to officials.
The Dragna murder was unsolved prior to a federal racketeering indictment that was unsealed in June 2010.
Two members of Puente-13 pleaded guilty to participating in Dragna’s murder. Angel “Smiley” Torres was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison, and Steven “Flaco” Nunez is currently serving a 10-year prison term.
The Mexican Mafia member who controlled the Puente-13 gang and his brother were sentenced to life in federal prison after being convicted at trial for their roles in the drug and murder conspiracy, according to officials.
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