news: Calif. Tribe linked to Mexican Mafia

Mousey

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Interesting article...

Authorities: Members of gambling
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MICHELLE DEARMOND and JOHN F. BERRY
September 20, 2007 11:42 AM
Scripps Howard News Service

Must credit The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif.

The Press-Enterprise

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Authorities say that several members of a wealthy regional gambling tribe have links to the Mexican Mafia and other criminal gangs, according to law-enforcement officials and documents from a court case.

Among the members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians with alleged gang ties, two are charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a case involving gang members, according to authorities. They were arrested during a drug bust at the reservation and in the San Bernardino area in December.

Suspected Mexican Mafia members, arrested in the same Drug Enforcement Administration-related raids, are co-defendants in the murder-conspiracy case.

An analysis of court records in that case and others involving tribal members, along with interviews with law-enforcement officials, show that at least four members of the 200-person tribe are suspected of having ties to criminal gangs.

Among the findings:

Law-enforcement authorities say that tribal member Stacy Cheyenne Barajas-Nunez, 24, has bought vehicles for gang members suspected in crimes, has hidden suspects and has served as a financial backer for gangs.

Barajas-Nunez and her brother, Erik Barajas, 34, were arrested Dec. 12 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder along with reputed members of the Mexican Mafia. Barajas-Nunez also faces drug charges. The two have pleaded innocent.

Authorities identify tribal member Robert Vincent Martinez III, 27, as a gang member who was charged with attempted murder in connection with a 2004 shooting outside The Brass Key, a Highland bar. The charges were later dismissed.

Authorities say tribal member Valerie Gonzales, 29, allowed her 1997 black BMW to be used by her boyfriend at the time, a suspected gang member charged with killing four gang leaders in 2000. Authorities said Luis Alonso Mendoza, the boyfriend, used her car to get to and from the scene of the killings.

The San Manuel tribe said in a written statement and interview that officials are cooperating with investigators and working to protect the casino, patrons and tribal members from criminals.

''Truly, the tribe is looking absolutely at being part of the solution. San Manuel Indian reservation is not the problem. The problem is countywide, regionwide, in fact, it's all over the country,'' said Jacob Coin, director of communications for the tribe. ''We are just in the way -- the path -- of these kinds of criminal activities.''

Coin said the tribe has a security checkpoint where guests are stopped before getting access to reservation homes, but ''crime finds a way to infiltrate even the safest and most secure of cities.''

One court record, listed as ''DEA sensitive,'' described an October meeting between law-enforcement officials, including a San Manuel security staff member and a San Bernardino police officer. They discussed fears that Mexican Mafia ''gang members had infiltrated the Indian reservation and were extorting some of the tribal members for money.''

San Manuel tribal members receive profit checks -- listed in court documents as $100,000 a month -- from the casino, which draws customers from across Southern California.

Coin would not address that allegation about casino-profit checks.

''The tribal government would have no real way to control how the tribal members spend it,'' he said.

Critics of California's Indian gambling industry argued a decade ago that tri .....
 

lojo

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That would totally suck... 200 member tribe getting 100k each having their money extorted by a gang.

And on a positive note:

In 2003, the tribe donated $3 million to California State University, San Bernardino for the expansion of the Santos Manuel Student Union named in honor of the tribe's leader Santos Manuel

In 2004, the tribe bestowed a $4 million gift to the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law to establish a Tribal Learning Community and Educational Exchange in support of Native American study

In 2003, following the firestorms in Southern California, the tribe made a donation of $1 million to assist with fire relief efforts`

In 2002, the tribe made a donation of three fire engines and one HAZMAT vehicle to the City of San Bernardino to assist the local fire department

In 2002, the tribe donated ten thermal imaging cameras to various Inland Empire fire stations in efforts to help save lives

In 2003, the tribe donated nearly $50,000 to the San Bernardino City Fire Department to assist in the development of a fitness and wellness program for firefighters

The tribe also is a sponsor for the San Bernardino City Fire Department’s smoke detector program
 

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