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Local Gang Leader Gets Life in Federal Prison

Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez gang's turf reportedly includes a large portion of La Puente, as well as parts of nearby cities, such as Hacienda Heights, Walnut and West Covina.

A  Mexican Mafia prison gang member and longtime leader of the Puente-13 street gang was sentenced Wednesday to life in federal prison for a host of crimes that included a stabbing designed to keep victims from cooperating with law enforcement.

Rafael "Cisco" Munoz-Gonzalez, 42, who long controlled Puente-13 as part of his Mexican Mafia membership, was sentenced one day after his brother, Cesar "Blanco" Munoz-Gonzalez, was handed a life term for similar crimes. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

The Munoz-Gonzalez brothers were convicted in December by a Los Angeles jury that found them guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, illegally possessing firearms and other offenses.

Evidence at trial showed that Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez ordered an attack on a witness who was cooperating with a federal investigation of the brothers. The man, who was attacked at the federal jail in downtown Los Angeles, was stabbed 22 times and beaten over the head, suffering a punctured lung and fractured skull.

The jury also heard evidence that members of Puente-13 were involved in the manufacture and distribution of a substantial amount of narcotics, particularly methamphetamine, and that leaders of the gang extorted drug dealers by collecting "taxes," which allows drug dealers to operate in gang- controlled territory.

Testimony also showed that while Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez was in custody -- until 2007 -- his brother trafficked large amounts of meth, spoke on his brother's behalf at gang meetings, directed members of Puente-13 to collect payments from area drug dealers and warded off rival traffickers by announcing that certain Puente-13 drug stash houses were untouchable because they were "protected by Cisco."

The evidence showed that the Gonzalez brothers' racketeering activities brought them substantial amounts of cash, custom boats and luxury cars.

In early 2008, Puente-13 gang members and associates were arrested as part of a federal investigation into the drug trafficking activities of the gang.

Two other leaders of Puente-13 were also convicted of all charges against them at last year's trial.

Abraham "Listo" Aldana, 30, of West Covina was sentenced Monday to 27 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors said that after Aldana was released from Pelican Bay State Prison in 2008, he became one of Rafael Munoz-Gonzalez's most aggressive lieutenants, collecting tax payments and helping facilitate the conspiracy to murder and assault rival gang members.

On Feb. 26, Michael "Mikey" Torres, 43, of La Puente, a key player in the gang's narcotics trafficking, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for racketeering, drug, and firearm offenses.

Puente-13 was formed in the city of La Puente more than 60 years ago. The gang has since grown to include more than a dozen "cliques," or subgroups, all of which which are loyal to the Mexican Mafia, according to federal prosecutors.

The gang claims as its "turf" a large portion of La Puente, as well as unincorporated parts of the San Gabriel Valley and portions of nearby cities, such as Hacienda Heights, Walnut and West Covina.

Since 2008, as a result of the federal investigations into Puente-13, grand juries have issued four indictments which have resulted in the conviction of roughly 60 members and associates of the gang, along with the seizure of 77 firearms, 12 pounds of methamphetamine and $1.1 million in cash and other assets.

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