A member of the Pueblo Bishops Bloods, a criminal street gang that had used violence and intimidation to control the Pueblo del Rio housing project in South Los Angeles, pleaded guilty this morning to federal racketeering charges, specifically admitting that he was involved in the murders of two people not affiliated with any gang in attacks that had been unsolved prior to a federal RICO indictment, announced United States Attorney André Birotte, Jr, whose office is handling the prosecution of the case. Marquis Edwards, 22, of Los Angeles, who was known by the moniker “Baby Uzi,” pleaded guilty this morning and acknowledged participating in separate shooting attacks that killed a teenager in 2006 and a woman in 2007. Edwards also acknowledged participating in an attack in which bullets were fired at a group mourning the death of the youth killed by members of the Pueblo Bishops Bloods gang. Appearing this morning before United States District Judge S James Otero, Edwards admitted that he and other Pueblo Bishops gang members participated in a September 4, 2006 morning bush attack on a group of young people. Edwards jumped out of one of the vehicles involved in the attack, chased the victims and shot 15-year-old Jose Maldonado at close range. Maldonado—a high school honors student who was not affiliated with any gang—bled to death on his own driveway. Two other Latino youths with Maldonado were also shot and injured during the shooting. On the night Maldonado was killed, Edwards and another gang member returned to the site of the murder, where family members had gathered for a vigil and to clean up Maldonado’s blood. The other gang member shot into the vigil crowd, injuring one. Edwards also admitted to participating in a March 18, 2007 attack in which a 35-year-old single mother was fatally shot. Edwards and other Pueblo Bishop Bloods gang members in a convoy surrounded a van driven by Laura Sanchez, who yelled at her 18-year-old son to get down, which likely saved his life. Sanchez was struck by multiple bullets and died that night. Her son was able to escape the car and survive. Neither Sanchez nor her son had any known gang ties. All three shooting incidents were unsolved prior to a federal racketeering indictment that was unsealed in August 2010 (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/pr2010/122.html). After the initial indictment, which did not name Edwards, federal prosecutors, special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and officers from the Los Angles Police Department continued to investigate the gang, specifically looking at unsolved murders and other violence. With additional evidence, a grand jury issued a second indictment in May 25, 2011 that charged Edwards and other gang members and alleged new crimes. Edwards becomes the fourth Pueblo Bishop gang member to plead guilty to racketeering offenses and admit first-degree murder allegations in the Maldonado and Sanchez killings. Prior to the federal RICO indictment, three of these four defendants were uncharged in relation to the murders. Each now faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for their roles in the murders. Edwards is set to be sentenced by Judge Otero on August 20. A total of 45 defendants were charged in the federal indictments. With Edwards guilty plea today, 33 of those defendants have now been convicted; three are in state custody, and two are fugitives. A trial for seven remaining defendants is pending and scheduled to begin on June 5 before Judge Otero.
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