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Anti-gang crusader pleads not guilty

June 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
An anti-gang crusader, who was once part of a notorious Mexican street gang, pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges Monday.Alex Sanchez, 37, was arrested last week during a gang raid. He was named in a federal indictment with 24 alleged members of the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 gang on June 24.

Prosecutors say Sanchez and three others conspired to murder a rival who was shot to death in El Salvador three years ago. He is also accused of drug distribution and extortion.

Sanchez was reportedly an active member of MS-13 in the Los Angeles area as a youth. He was deported to his native El Salvador, but allegedly snuck back into the United States one year later.

Sanchez later tried to turn his life around and helped to organize the local chapter of Homies Unidos, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping kids out of gangs.

Trial for Sanchez is set for September 1 in U.S. District Court.

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