A Northeast Los Angeles gang member convicted of helping to run a coalition of rival gangs that unified under the Mexican Mafia was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
Manuel Vallejo, aka “Boxer,” 36, described the organized crime syndicate that aimed to dominate narcotics deals from Elysian Park to Burbank as a “New World Order” or “United Neighborhoods” in the vein of the United Nations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
Vallejo was the leader and “shot caller” of the Toonerville gang, which, along with the Frogtown and Rascals gangs, formed an alliance under a peace treaty brokered by the Mexican Mafia, or La Eme, in 2010, according to federal investigators.
The 36-year-old is one of 22 defendants charged in connection with the operations of the gang coalition, an initiative led by Mexican Mafia member Arnold “Arnie” Gonzales, who was incarcerated while allegedly orchestrating the truce, officials said.
Gonzales was serving time in Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California following a murder conviction, and allegedly appointed Jorge Grey, a member of the Frogtown gang, as his emissary on the streets.
Along with narcotics trafficking, the federal indictment accuses the nearly two dozen defendants of extortion, money laundering and conspiring to operate a criminal enterprise.
Vallejo entered a plea agreement and was convicted of conspiring to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering (VICAR), conspiring to traffic methamphetamine and carrying a firearm during and in relation to the commission of a VICAR.
Prosecutors said he told the court during his Monday morning sentencing hearing, “Even if I stole God’s calculator, I couldn’t add up all the mistakes I’ve made.”
Vallejo admitted, as part of the plea agreement, to being one of the syndicate’s leading members and collecting “taxes” from gang members as well as others involved in the illegal drug trade and illicit activities along the L.A. River in Northeast Los Angeles, investigators said.
He was also convicted of being directly engaged in setting up and executing narcotics sales in the area for the benefit of Gonzales and the Mexican Mafia.
Vallejo pleaded guilty to the VICAR charge, meaning he additionally admitted to shooting another man known as “Grinch” multiple times in 2011 after the victim attempted to claim a higher standing in the Toonerville gang, according to prosecutors.
Vallejo boasted several times about the shooting and once threatened to “reenact the one who stole Christmas” when other gang members were working behind his back, according to recordings obtained by federal officials.
“The career criminal in this case spent his life committing violent acts and intimidating others into coercion as part of his gang activity,” said Bill McMullan, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Los Angeles field office. “As justified, he is one of many from this case going to prison for a very long time.”
Nineteen of the 22 defendants in the federal indictment have already pleaded guilty, prosecutors said, with the remaining three expected to be tried this summer.