“No Guns” leader peddled guns while City Hall paid him to fight gangs
Hector Marroquin founder of the gang intervention group No Guns, was sentenced today to eight years in prison after pleading no contest to weapon charges. Charged alongside 51-year-old Marroquin was his 25-year-old girlfriend Sylvia Arellano, who is expected to be sentenced to four years in prison for weapons charges – including possessing a silencer.
The couple entered pleas before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen on three counts involving the manufacture, distribution and transport for sale of an unlawful assault weapon. Marroquin was sentenced to eight years for each count, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Nicknamed “Big Weasel,” Marroquin, a one-time 18th Street gang member, was embraced by Los Angeles City Hall after he claimed to have gone straight as a result of being shot while defending his son from gang members.
He founded No Guns in 1996, purportedly to help kids stay out of gang life, and over the years received $1.5 million from the Los Angeles City Council’s much-ballyhooed L.A. Bridges gang intervention program.
(Photo courtesy L.A. County Sheriff's Department)
L.A. Bridges, now the subject of much controversy for its poor accountability and failure to document whether it diverts children from gang life, is a city-funded program that the 15 elected council members had hailed as the best way to prevent gangs from luring children at a young age. With the blessing of supporters like former state Senator Tom Hayden, Marroquin, his wife, son and daughter got hired under a subcontract, together earning more than $200,000 a year in salaries.
However, warning signs began to surface early on. In 1998, Marroquin was tried and acquitted of weapons violations. In 2000, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who worked in the prison-gang unit wrote memos to the highest levels of Sheriff Lee Baca’s department, alleging that Marroquin was a Mexican Mafia associate who was enforcing drug turf boundaries and ordering gang hits.
In 2003, he lost an L.A. County Probation Department contract that involved driving kids from school to gang-diversion programs after officials found his record-keeping shoddy and a family member he hired as a driver failed to pass a criminal-background check. He was also arrested in 2006 on weapons charges.
Throughout it all, Marroquin and the top officers of No Guns – made up largely of his own family members – were still being paid with taxpayer funds, thanks to City Hall’s widely criticized approach to overseeing the L.A. Bridges program.
Then last June, Marroquin was arrested at his Downey home after a nine-month investigation and charged with selling silencers and weapons — including three assault rifles and a machine gun — to federal undercover Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents on three separate occasions between September and November of 2006. During the raids, federal agents also searched a junkyard in South Gate, as well as Marroquin’s tavern on Atlantic Avenue in Cudahy, where they recovered a personal stash of snapshots showing Marroquin posing while flashing gang signs.
The sale of the weapons to the ATF agents occurred three months after the city severed its ties with Marroquin over misuse of funds and hiring his relatives – including his son, Hector “Little Weasel'' Marroquin, a known 18th Street gang member. Last year, Little Weasel pleaded no contest to a home-invasion robbery and was sentenced to state prison.
Read more about Marroquin from LA Weekly:
BROKEN BRIDGES, December 13, 2006
THE TOWN THE LAW FORGOT, February 21, 2007
HECTOR MARROQUIN'S REVENGE, June 6, 2007
HECTOR MARROQUIN JR: L.A.'S ANTI-ANTI-GANG ACTIVIST, June 19, 2007