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Avenues gang leader gets 25 years for racketeering

A former Avenues gang chief is the latest to go to prison in a case that involved several murders, including a deputy's.
October 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Five years after his indictment, a known gang leader has been sentenced in connection with a racketeering crackdown. The former Avenues gang chief is the latest to go to prison in a case that involved several murders, including the killing of a sheriff's deputy.

Rudy Aguirre Jr. is described by prosecutors as the leader of a violent northeast L.A. street gang called the Avenues. He was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for two murders. In a plea agreement Aguirre admitted to shooting and killing a rival gang member in 1999 and ordering the killing of one of his own gang members in 2008.

"Defendant Aguirre was the leader of the Avenues gang," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich. "He ran the streets of the Avenues gang territory in northeast Los Angeles on behalf of his Mexican Mafia counterparts in Pelican Bay [State Prison]."

Before Aguirre was taken away to begin serving his sentence, his mother stood up and spoke in his defense. She wouldn't give her name. She lashed out at prosecutors in court, accusing them of laughing during Monday's proceeding. She said that wasn't appropriate behavior.

"As an assistant United States attorney, our job is to seek justice and make sure that any defendant who appears before us is treated fairly," said Trutanich. "This defendant had his day in court, he pled guilty and was sentenced today to 300 months in prison because of his conduct."

Aguirre's conviction and sentencing is part of a law enforcement crackdown on the Avenues street gang. One member, Carlos Velasquez, was convicted in the August 2008 shooting of L.A County Sheriff's Deputy Juan Escalante.

Escalante was shot and killed outside his Cypress Park home as he was leaving for work at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

Velasquez was sentenced to life without parole after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for Escalante's murder.

Prosecutors said Velasquez thought Escalante was a rival gang member. Escalante wasn't wearing his uniform when he was killed.

Three other Avenues gang members also were convicted in connection to Escalante's murder, and two others await trial in state court.

Nearly 90 gang members and their associates were indicted four years ago as part of a crackdown on the Avenues gang. Most have been sentenced, receiving prison terms of up to 25 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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