LOS ANGELES – A gang member with ties to the Mexican Mafia prison gang was sentenced Monday to more than 13 years in federal prison for distributing methamphetamine to street gangs in the community of Bell Gardens.
Guillermo Ruiz, known on the street as “Weasel,” 42, of Bell Gardens, was sentenced to 160 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald. The case is the result of a large-scale investigation into Bell Gardens street gangs by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In October, Ruiz pleaded guilty to all six criminal charges contained in two indictments, each of which alleged narcotics distribution. HSI’s investigation led to a total of 15 defendants being federally prosecuted for narcotics and/or firearms offenses.
“Illegal narcotics sales are a scourge that damage neighborhoods with addiction and violence, as this defendant’s history of drug trafficking and violent crimes illustrates,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Criminal gangs like the Mexican Mafia and the Bell Gardens street gang involved in this case rely on drug sales to function, so my office will continue to attack their ability to make such sales.”
According to a sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors, Ruiz “participated in the distribution of nearly 550 grams of methamphetamine that was seized by the government, and he is suspected of distributing even more based on intercepted calls and recorded statements.” The memo goes on to say that the “defendant’s criminal activities extend beyond the drug trafficking conduct that gives rise to the underlying charges and instant convictions.”
According to the sentencing memorandum, Ruiz was affiliated with a Mexican Mafia member who was trying to exert control over a Bell Gardens street gang. Prosecutors say the Mexican Mafia member and Ruiz threatened members of that street gang with assault and murder in an attempt to collect money and extend their influence.
Court documents reveal Ruiz has a 25-year criminal history, including a 1997 manslaughter conviction. Federal grand juries returned indictments against Ruiz in 2013 and 2014 while he was a fugitive after fleeing while on trial in state court in 2011. He was taken into custody in 2015.
Ruiz had three codefendants in the 2013 case – Willie Lopez, also known as “Wino”; Miguel Angel Calderon, also known as “Speedy”; and Juan Carlos Rodriguez, also known as “Shorty” – each of whom pleaded guilty to narcotics offenses and received sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison.
In the 2014 case, Ruiz had one co-defendant – Mario Arciniega Jr., also known as “Osito” – who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Once he is released from prison, Ruiz will be on supervised release for five years, during which he will be subject to searches by authorities at any time.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chou of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.