For Immediate Release
Two Mexican Mafia ‘Secretaries’ Sentenced to Federal Prison Terms for Being Intermediaries for Imprisoned Street Gang Member
LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man and his long-time girlfriend were sentenced today to federal prison terms for collecting and storing extortionate “taxes” for the man’s brother, an imprisoned Mexican Mafia member, and for acting as the brother’s eyes and ears on the street, delivering coded messages to him, including one message that resulted in an individual being marked for death.
Thomas Gonzales, 61, and Gloria Valerio, 66, both of the Elysian Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez. Gonzales was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison. Valerio was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison. Both defendants were immediately remanded into custody.
After a two-week trial, Gonzales and Valerio were found guilty by a jury on March 4 of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Gonzales also was found guilty of making a false statement to a law enforcement officer.
Gonzales and Valerio were named in a 2015 federal RICO indictment that charged 22 defendants and outlined how Gonzales’s brother, Mexican Mafia member and senior Frogtown gang member Arnold “Arnie” Gonzales, 59, had ordered the unification of the traditional rival Los Angeles street gangs of Frogtown, Toonerville, and Rascals.
The inter-gang alliance began in 2010 and resulted in the three gangs controlling the narcotics trade and other illegal activities in an area along the Los Angeles River that ran from Elysian Park nearly to Burbank. Through violence and threats of violence, senior members collected money, or “taxes,” from legitimate and illegal businesses in the area for Arnie Gonzales’s benefit.
Gonzales and Valerio acted as “secretaries,” or people who act as the bridge between imprisoned members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang and the gang members on the street. “Secretaries” often are not gang members themselves and have normal jobs and minimal criminal histories, which is why the Mexican Mafia targets them to be used as intermediaries, as they are able to make prison visits to Mexican Mafia members without arousing suspicion. In this case, Valerio worked as an insurance analyst and Thomas Gonzales was an HVAC technician.
Valerio and Thomas Gonzales visited Arnie Gonzales, who was serving a life sentence at Pelican Bay State Prison for a murder conviction. As Arnie Gonzales’s eyes and ears on the streets, Thomas Gonzales and Valerio stored the extortionate “tax” money gang leaders had collected from street gangs in Arnie Gonzales’s name within the territories controlled by him. Valerio deposited some of that money into Arnie Gonzales’s prison account. A search warrant executed at the defendants’ residence in June 2015 resulted in the seizure of more than $22,000 in cash.
Gonzales and Valerio used coded language to inform Arnie Gonzales about an individual who was falsely claiming to have the authority to collect “taxes” on Arnie Gonzales’s behalf. That individual later was marked for death.
A total of 21 people have been convicted in this case.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation - Special Service Unit; the Glendale Police Department; and the Los Angeles Police Department. This investigation was conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carol Alexis Chen, chief of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section, and Alexander B. Schwab of the Major Frauds Section.