Latino gang members plead guilty to firebombing homes of blacks in Boyle Heights

BOYLE HEIGHTS --  A member of the Big Hazard gang was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for his role in the May 2014 firebombings intended to drive out black tenants from the primarily Latino Ramona Gardens housing project, said the U.S. Attorney.

Jose Saucedo, also known as Lil' Moe, is the first of seven Latino gang members to be sentenced after pleading guilty in connection with the federal hate crimes case.

The 25-year-old Saucedo collected glass bottles to be used as Molotov cocktails, supervised one of the two groups of co-conspirators, and threw a firebomb into one of the targeted units, according to prosecutors. After the firebombing on Mother's Day, Saucedo continued to intimidate Ramona Gardens residents because of their race. 

 “The defendant violently attacked families sleeping peacefully in their homes, because of their race,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division in a statement. “The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute these acts of hate.”

Saucedo, who was sentenced on Monday, pleaded guilty to four felonies: conspiracy to violate civil rights, violent crime in aid of racketeering, interference with the Fair Housing Act, and attempted arson of federal property.

Saucedo was given four years credit for time served on a related offense.

The remaining defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

Jesus Sanchez, publisher of The Eastsider, has more than 30 years experience in newspaper and online journalism. 

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