So far, 16 members of the Southside Montebello set–an affiliate of the Mexican Mafia–have been convicted on charges of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). On Friday, George “Big Rascal” Vera Sr., one of the gang’s shot callers, was convicted by a federal jury on RICO conspiracy charges, as well as possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
According to the prosecution, Vera “led a double life,” working as a Los Angeles County electrician by day, and gang leader by night. He and the others who have been locked up were brought down by collaborative task force investigation called Operation Sudden Impact. The coalition of state, federal and local authorities was formed to probe gang activity in Montebello, CA. According to the LA Times:
Sudden Impact solved six cold case murders and resulted in the convictions of nearly two dozen gang affiliates. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged six people in relation to the slayings. Four of those charged have been convicted in state court, the U.S. attorney’s office said, and another two defendants are pending trial.
Five other defendants were charged by the district attorney on crimes ranging from drug sales to attempted murder, prosecutors said.
Vera, 48, was accused of giving a gun to a younger associate to commit a murder, storing guns and ammo for gang use in his home and hosting gang meetings. According court documents, he was “involved in the payment of ‘taxes’ to the Mexican Mafia on the gang’s behalf, directed younger members of the gang to protect his home from disrespect from rival gangs, and agreed to lie to his son’s probation officer to shield him from prosecution for drug dealing.”
Two of Vera’s sons were also busted during the investigation. Marcus Matthew Vera awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to drug, conspiracy and weapons charges. George Vera was sentenced to four and a half years in the feds after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a firearm.
“Big Rascal” faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.