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Sunday, 27 July 2008

Brothers Dennis and Enrique Medrano both pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering, felonies punishable by up to 30 years i


22:30 |

Brothers Dennis and Enrique Medrano both pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering, felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison.Dennis Medrano, 20, accepted a plea deal in which he'll serve 12 years in prison, followed by 10 years probation. He was also sentenced to five years in prison on a cocaine charge, and will serve the time concurrently.
Enrique Medrano, 21, accepted a deal in which he'll serve 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years probation. Of the 13 reputed gang members indicted by a statewide grand jury, six now have pleaded guilty and two more who have cooperated with statewide prosecutors are expected to plead guilty soon.The Medrano brothers join another brother, Alexis Medrano and a cousin, Kevin Medrano, who also have pleaded guilty. Dennis Medrano's defense attorney, Marianne Rantala, said outside court that defendants' flipping on each other has prompted the succession of plea deals. "When there are family members ready to testify against you, it's not good," she said.Dennis Medrano appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit signaling that he has had some discipline problems at the jail."Yes, ma'am," he politely answered Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown's questions.Dennis Medrano, who has an eighth-grade education, acknowledged participating in a variety of crimes prosecutors used to mount the racketeering case against him. They included physical attacks on people, stealing a car, cocaine posession and run-ins with law enforcement. Medrano also acknowledged being one of the shooters in an attempted first-degree murder, Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Todd Weicholz told the judge.The gang life is "the only life he's ever known," Rantala said. "I'm trying to get him to focus on the future."
These Sur 13 gang members, based in the Westgate neighborhood, became the first targets of a statewide grand jury convened to tackle a rise in gang violence.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said that Sur 13 is a violent criminal enterprise that is active across the nation, a gang responsible for robberies, drive-by shootings, beatings and drug dealing. "Street thugs. Street terrorists," another agent, Mike Driscoll of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, has described them.A coalition of investigators built the case under Florida's racketeering statute, historically applied to take down mobsters, but now used as a weapon against street gangs. Investigators link together the activity and planning by the gang to commit crimes.Enrique Medrano's defense attorney, Morgan McDonald, did not want to speak specifically about his client. But characterized the life of the gang members as an idle search for excitement, many fully expecting not to live long.
"Young men that lead this lifestyle don't care or don't have the foresight to understand they will end up dead at the hands of another gangbanger or in prison," McDonald said. "No one is concerned about long-term consequences."


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