Alleged gang members, associates arrested in Ariz.

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Authorities say nine alleged gang members and their associates are in custody after being indicted on various charges.

Search warrants and arrests were executed Wednesday in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties by the FBI's Violent Street Gang Task Force and their partner agencies.

The defendants are charged in indictments returned by a Pinal County grand jury.

They are charged with conspiracy, assisting a criminal enterprise, money laundering, drug charges and other related offenses.

Authorities say their investigation was aimed at disrupting ongoing violent street gang activity around Arizona.

The action was part of a multi-phase investigation aimed at disrupting on-going violent street gang activity which links Security Threat Groups within the Arizona Department of Corrections to neighborhood street gangs in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties.

The Defendants:

  • Leonard Medina, aka “Boom,” 38, Florence, AZ
  • Francisco Ruiz, aka “Cisco,” 39, Phoenix, AZ
  • Rigoberto Hernandez, aka “Lil Rob,” 45, Phoenix, AZ
  • Julia Santivanez, 36, Phoenix, AZ
  • Dolores Trevino, 33, Phoenix, AZ
  • Carmen Bedoya, 36, Tucson, AZ
  • Irene Acosta, 37, Palm Springs, CA

Two additional co-conspirators have not yet been named but are pending arraignment. One defendant remains outstanding.

FBI Phoenix Division Special Agent in Charge, Douglas G. Price stated, "Through the combined efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement and prosecutors, this violent criminal enterprise has been disrupted. Violence and drugs have a devastating effect on our communities and we will continue to work with our partners to make this state a safer place."

Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan stated, "The Arizona Department of Corrections is proud of our long standing participation with the FBI Violent Street Gang Task Force, and this investigation demonstrates the success that can be had when Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement resources are combined toward the common goal of public safety. Members of Security Threat Groups incarcerated in our state prison system rely on associations and control over lower level gang members who live in our communities to carry out their violent criminal activity and further the criminal agenda and profit for those incarcerated. The multi-agency FBI Violent Street Gang Task Force is an excellent example of combined jurisdictions working together to ensure that all individuals involved in such activities are held accountable."

"Our Detectives working with our Partners at the FBI, Phoenix Police, The Arizona Department of Corrections and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office have worked hard over the last eight months to gather enough evidence to put this criminal syndicate out of business. These gang members collaborated both inside and outside of prison to make dangerous narcotics available. It’s comforting to know these criminals will no longer be able to operate," said Robert Halliday, Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles stated, "Prosecuting gang members goes to the heart of fighting violent crime in Arizona. Being that federal and state prisons exist within Pinal, we continue to work closely with law enforcement on all levels to combat gang violence, whether it occurs inside or outside of prison." Mr. Voyles continued to say, "These two indictments against these 10 individuals allege nearly 250 counts of criminal acts ranging from participating in a criminal street gang and money laundering to promoting prison contraband and extortion."

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