By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
At the trial’s start, Hector Marroquin Jr.’s lawyer argued that his client was just doing a good deed when he went with a friend to the home of a former colleague just after Christmas 2005.
But in the end, Marroquin Jr., a purported anti-gang activist and son of Hector Marroquin — founder of the anti-gang group “No Guns,” who was recently charged with selling automatic weapons to an undercover federal agent — pleaded no contest last Friday to home-invasion robbery.
Marroquin Jr. was a program director at No Guns, funded by City Hall’s L.A. Bridges program to perform gang intervention, when he and co-defendant Pablo Cruz entered the home of a former No Guns employee as the former employee’s wife and baby cowered on a bed. Now both men are headed to state prison.
Cruz pleaded no contest to home-invasion robbery and will be sentenced to 16 years behind bars. Marroquin Jr. will be sentenced to nine years. Both men admitted they are members of 18th Street Gang, according to Hawthorne Police Department gang detective Chris Port, who saw Cruz flash gang signs as he was taken away. They will be required to register in a statewide database of gang members upon release from prison, Port said.
“This is a huge weight off our shoulders,” Port said on Tuesday. “I’m glad to see a true light shine on individuals as they really are — as opposed to what they are masquerading as.”
Hector Marroquin Jr. could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Patrick Smith, did not return calls.
Founded in 1996 by Hector Marroquin Sr. after he was shot defending his son from unknown assailants, No Guns went on to collect more than $1.5 million from the Los Angeles City Council’s anti-gang program, L.A. Bridges. This, in spite of L.A. County Sheriff’s intelligence reports about Marroquin Sr.’s alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia and his repeated arrests on gun charges that never seemed to stick.
Marroquin Sr. and an accomplice, Sylvia Arellano, face up to 50 years each if convicted of selling automatic rifles, silencers and a machine gun to an undercover ATF agent last September, October and November.
The Marroquin family, including wife Charlotte and daughter Charleeda, at one time received $200,000 per year in Los Angeles taxpayer-funded salaries for their work with No Guns.
But when police searched Marroquin Jr.’s home in Lennox in May 2006, they found a fully loaded Czech Luger 9mm automatic, a loaded .32 Beretta Tomcat, an unloaded Glock, an unloaded Smith and Wesson 9mm automatic, 100 rounds of ammunition and gang literature and paraphernalia such as photos and hats, according to search-warrant affidavits obtained by the L.A. Weekly.
In spite of the May 2006 gun seizure — and the seizure at that time of an unloaded gun at the home of Marroquin Sr., who claimed the gun was not his — L.A. Bridges took several more months to cut ties with the father and son, finally doing so for alleged nepotism and misuse of funds.
The recent arrest of Marroquin Sr. and the conviction of Marroquin Jr. last Friday for home-invasion robbery come on the heels of the recent sentencing of another of the city’s purported anti-gang program leaders, Mario Corona, from a group called Communities in Schools, for possession of a pound of methamphetamine and a handgun.
More on Hector Marroquin:
BROKEN BRIDGES Did City Hall’s plan to fight gangs bankroll a gangster?THE TOWN THE LAW FORGOT An L.A. ’burb is mired in gangs, cartels and south-of-the-border-style politicsDID CITY HALL FUND A GUN-RUNNER? Feds arrest Hector Marroquin, of the purported “No Guns” anti-gang programLIVING LA VIDA LOCA Purported anti-gang activist and "No Guns" founder Hector Marroquin pledges allegiance to the 18th Street GangHECTOR MARROQUIN'S REVENGE Feds arrest “No Guns” activist for selling guns, while L.A. politicians duck