Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to dismiss charges against Alex Sanchez, the controversial gang-intervention leader accused of continuing to be a murderous "shot caller" for the notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) organization even as he glad-handed local leaders with a message of peace on the streets west of downtown.
The request, made late yesterday "without prejudice," means that the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A. can still refile the charges, according to documents. In fact, it appears it will:
Prosecutors say a federal grand jury's "errors" made it necessary to dismiss an organized-crime conspiracy count and a conspiracy-to-murder count against Sanchez in the 2009 case that brought 16 counts against 24 members of the gang.
But the U.S. Attorney's Office says this, according to the court filing:
The government makes this request with the express intention of re-filing certain of the dismissed charges ...
The office ...
... seeks the opportunity to correct the mistakes made in the previous grand jury resentation by representing this case to a new grand jury, focusing on the facts likely to be in dispute at trial.
After the judge grants its request, which seems likely, the office has 6 months to refile a new indictment.
At the same time, federal prosecutors are asking the court to deny the defense's request to dismiss those counts with prejudice, which would prevent the government from re-filing.
View MS and 18th Street in a larger map
Sanchez's anti-gang group, Homies Unidos, has received praise from many power players in City Hall at a time when "gang intervention" became a multimillion-dollar cornerstone of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's strategy to quell street crime.
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Many supporters, including liberal icon Tom Hayden, have rallied to Sanchez's side and alleged conspiratorial undertones on the part of authorities.
Sanchez was arrested and put behind bars until early 2010 as part of the grand jury indictments, which alleged that alleged MS-13 leaders engaged in conspiracy to murder, sell drugs and extort.
MS is one of the most prolific and bloody gangs in the world, having expanded to the East Coast and Central America after its founding in the early 1980s at Normandie Avenue and Olympic Boulevard in Koreatown.