A Latino gang member who a judge said "preyed on victims because they were black" received a sentence of life in federal prison (and then some) this week. Francisco Flores, 24, actually received a life sentence as well as a consecutive 10 years for racketeering that includes conspiring to commit murder, participating in an attempted murder, conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, and use of a firearm, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Flores was one of ten members of South L.A.'s large Florencia 13 gang who have received recent sentences for racketeering convictions by federal authorities. At his sentencing Wednesday, U.S. district Judge David O. Carter said Flores "preyed on victims because they were black and for no other reason but racial motive."
A second Florencia member, 36-year-old Jose Gonzalez, received 20 years this week for racketeering and drug trafficking, the U.S. Attorney's Office states. The pair, along with the other eight Florencia convicts, were nabbed in a federal sweep of the gang in 2007 that was dubbed the biggest gang take-down of its kind to date.
Agents arrested 97 of the 104 defendants named in an indictments against the gang's members, and 94 of them have convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Five gangsters are federal fugitives.
Feds say that Florencia controlled the drug trade in parts of southern Los Angeles County such as the city of Huntington Park, where the gang would "tax" dealers for its share of profits and then give some of that money to the Mexican Mafia "in return for Mexican Mafia protection when they went to prison or jail," according to a U.S. Attorney's Office statement.
During last week's sentencing of another Florencia member, 34-year-old Arturo Cruz, Judge Carter said he was taken aback by the level of racism involved in the gang's violence:
"I think this particular criminal organization is as ruthless as any the Court had seen," he said. "I've dealt with the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood now, soon to be the Mongols, but you really take first place. The racism displayed in these tapes, the hunting down and tracking of black citizens, whether they are rival gang members in territory selling drugs, or just the innocent young lady I saw [a robbery victim targeted because of her race] that came into this court is barbaric, and I think society needs to draw a rather strong line."