Los Angeles

Gang Member Gets Sentenced for Racially Motivated Firebombings

One of eight gang members involved in Ramona Gardens firebombings gets 92 months.

A gang member was sentenced Monday to 92 months in federal prison for firebombing the homes of black residents in the Boyle Heights area five years ago in an effort to drive them out of their neighborhood.

Edwin "Boogie" Felix, 27, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after completing his prison term.

Felix -- the second of seven defendants to be sentenced in the case -- pleaded guilty last year to four felonies, admitting that he conspired to violate the civil rights of the black families, specifically the constitutional right to live in a residence free from "injury, intimidation and interference based on race."

He also pleaded guilty to using explosives and fire to injure, intimidate and interfere with the residents because of their race and because they were living in the Ramona Gardens public housing development. Felix -- himself a sometime resident of Ramona Gardens -- further admitted to committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering on behalf of his gang.

"The conduct is just egregious,'' U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder said, adding that such a scheme "must not ever be repeated."

In the early morning hours of May 12, 2014, eight members of the street gang, which claims Ramona Gardens as its territory, prepared Molotov cocktails, smashed the windows of four apartments and threw the lit firebombs into the units.

Three of the four targeted apartments were occupied by black families, including women and children, who were sleeping at the time of the unprovoked attacks, according to court papers.

Prosecutors said the seven gang members -- all of whom pleaded guilty -- violated the civil rights of the families, specifically the constitutional right to live in a home free from "injury, intimidation and interference based on race."

According to the indictment, ringleader Carlos "Rider" Hernandez ordered his co-defendants to meet at a location in his gang's so-called territory on May 11, 2014 -- Mother's Day -- to prepare for the night's attack.

At the meeting, Hernandez distributed materials to be used during the firebombing, including disguises, gloves and other materials.

Hernandez -- who faces sentencing in October -- explained that the order for the racially motivated attack had come from the Mexican Mafia, a prison gang that controls the majority of Hispanic gangs in Southern California, prosecutors said.

The indictment also stated that Hernandez told the others to break the victims' windows, allowing the Molotov cocktails to make a clean entry, ignite the firebombs and throw them into the victims' units in order to maximize damage. One of the victims, a mother sleeping on her couch with her infant child in her arms, narrowly missed being struck by one of the weapons.

Felix told the judge he was "mournful" for his actions.

"With the time given, I hope to take advantage and better myself," he said.

Co-ringleader Jose "Lil' Moe" Saucedo, 25, was sentenced on June 3, to nine years behind bars for planning and carrying out the firebombings.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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