Friday, January 18, 2008

30-year prison sentence for Bradenton gang member


STAFF REPORT

BRADENTON — A reputed member of the street gang Brown Pride Locos was found guilty of racketeering today and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The trial was the first of its kind in Manatee County.

A jury found Eric Santiago, 21, guilty after less than an hour of deliberation. Santiago was charged last year with eight other men who the authorities say had ties to Brown Price Locos.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said the harsh sentence sends a “clear message” to gang members. “We will absolutely not back down in these efforts to combat gangs and gang violence in our state,” McCollum said in a statement.

The other defendants took plea deals for short stints in prison. The alleged leader, Jose A. Lopez Jr., got seven years.

Santiago is serving a 13-year sentence for heroin trafficking and he was prepared to accept a plea deal in the racketeering case for five years in prison.
He rejected the deal and took his case to trial.

“It was a hard four days, I will tell you that,” said Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Thomas D. Smith, a prosecutor in the case.

The racketeering prosecution in Manatee County, a novel approach to fighting gang violence, has become a model across Florida. Prosecutors built cases rooted in older charges against alleged members. The state says Brown Pride Locos and similar gangs are criminal street enterprises.

Authorities say victims and witnesses are often unwilling to cooperate in gang cases for fear of retaliation. But the prosecution of a gang member under racketeering laws does not require testimony from victims and witnesses.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I AM GLAD THAT HE GET 30 YEARS.HE SHOULD GET LIFE,BECUSEA I KNOW THAT ERIC SANTIAGO AND PEDRO GARCIA A.K.A PERICO KILL GUADALUPE VELA.BECUSAE THE DEATH OF THERE CUZING ANTONIO GARCIS.THEY KNEW THAT LUPE CAME BACK FROM TEXAS AND CUPEL OF MOUTH LATER THEY KILL LUPE....THE TRUE WILL COME OUT

Anonymous said...

WELL ITS NICE TO KNOW THAT HE GOT 30 YEARS BUT TO TELL U THE TRUTH HE SHOULD O GOT LIFE BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THAT THEY KILLED GOT THERE LIFE TOOKEN AWAY..MY QUESTION IS..WHY DO YALL GET INTO GANGS FOR??
YALL THINK YALL BIG BAD ASSES OR YALL FUNNA TKAE OVER OTHER PEOPLE..!!
IMA LET YALL KNOW STR8 UP PEOPLE AROUND HERE AINT FUNNA BACK DOWN FROM NE GANG MEMBERZ!! I USED TO BE IN A GANG AND I WENT AROUND ALOT OF STUPID SHYT THAT WASNT WORTH IT SO I DECIDED TO GET OUT OF IT AND START MAKING SOMETHINGO UT OF MY LIFE N MAKE GOOD DECISION
GANGS AINT A WAY TO LIVE LIFE!
TRUST ME I KNOW!

Anonymous said...

ten - twelve years back...who would have imagined this( gangs in b-town) were going to get like this(out of hand)...I'm almost 100% sure it all started as kids play...QUE NO? At the end of the day we all pay what's coming to us.

One person can make a difference...be a mentor to an at risk kid/teen, and see the difference you make in their life. ONE LESS GANG MEMBER.

Anonymous said...

wut about the life Guadalupe Vela Took ? The man was seventeen due to the hands of Guadalupe. Wheres the justice there. Y say he killed Antonio Garcia after he died? Maybe if he would of got charged for the murder of Tony, he wouldn't be dead??

Anonymous said...

The 17-year old Guadalupe Vela was my Uncle and those Heartless People toke his life Away, Leaving His Baby Daughter To Grow Up With Out A Father! He Should Of Got Death! Because Of Him My Whole Family Had To Suffer A Huge Lost :'(

Anonymous said...

First of E is my nephew, and the problem here is that fathers walk out of the picture and let single mothers alone to struggle.. I don't know whether these rumors are true, nor do I care to believe, I do know that the lack of self- love for other individuals in Bradenton is short.. Eric was giving a harsh punishment that I don't agree with, how do they let rapist and child abusers out in less than 3 years?

Anonymous said...

R.I.P pito may the lord hold u in his hands R.I.P. your always b in my heart and on my mind we miss u and always will b all I can say is (an eye for an eye) que no carnal puro LCP El SUAVE