The leader of a South Los Angeles street gang blamed for two decades of murders, robberies, extortion, illegal firearms possession, witness intimidation and narcotics trafficking near downtown’s Skid Row was sentenced Monday June 13, to nearly 22 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero also ordered Tyrine “Lil’ C-Bone” Martinez, 36, of Los Angeles, to spend 10 years on supervised release after serving his prison term.
Martinez pleaded guilty last year to federal charges of racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit murder, conspiring to traffic crack cocaine, illegally possessing a firearm and selling crack cocaine near an elementary school, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Martinez was among 72 defendants charged in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — RICO — indictment that targeted the Broadway Gangster Crips, a street gang that claims territory in South Los Angeles.
Other key defendants named in the 213-page indictment also pleaded guilty.
Tracy “Woody” Harris, 52, of Inglewood, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to sell methamphetamine after having been convicted of a prior drug felony, and selling methamphetamine near schools. He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
Roosevelt “TuTu” Sumpter, 44, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to distribute crack cocaine, illegally possessing a firearm, and selling crack cocaine near schools. He is currently serving 20 years.
In his plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court, Martinez admitted being a leader of the Gremlin Riderz, a BGC subset serving as the gang’s hit squad, and whose members bore tattoos from the 1984 movie “Gremlins.”
Otero said the BGC was “well-known to the court” for encouraging younger members to engage in violence against rivals and insubordinate members.
Martinez also admitted that he conspired with other Broadway Gangster Crips to murder a fellow gang member who had provided law enforcement information regarding a 2012 gang shooting that killed an unarmed teenager with no gang affiliation and wounded three others, including a 10-year-old girl.
At the time of the criminal conduct to which he pleaded, Martinez was on probation in four separate cases.
The judge also mentioned that while in custody, Martinez held a Gremlin Riderz meeting on a monitored telephone and discussed weapons sales and “disciplining” members who had violated the gang’s rules.
“I am sorry about whatever happened to whoever,” Martinez said when given the opportunity to make a statement to the court.
In his unsuccessful argument for the mandatory 15-year minimum sentence, defense attorney Stephen G. Frye said his client’s relatives had co-founded the BGC.
“He was literally born into gangs,” Frye said. “When he was 2 years old, they dressed him in gang clothes. He had no control over that.”
The gang, which was formed in the 1970s, grew into a violent criminal enterprise that conducts regular meetings, espouses a strict set of rules, and exacts punishments, including death, against those who cooperate with law enforcement, according to court documents.
In addition to committing crimes in its claimed territory east of the Harbor Freeway, the Broadway Crips sold drugs near the Skid Row section of downtown Los Angeles, according to the indictment, which states that area “is desirable to the gang because it is close to Skid Row, where there is a large and vulnerable customer base of drug addicts and mentally ill persons.”
The investigation into the BGC, which was called Operation Gremlin Riderz, was conducted by the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department under the auspices of the FBI.