SANTA ANA, Calif., Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in Santa Ana, Calif., say nine suspects have been charged with conspiracy and extortion for allegedly imposing taxes on street gang members.
The Orange County Register reported Tuesday the suspects have connections to a Latino prison gang.
A county grand jury indicted the suspects Oct. 3 on charges of extortion for allegedly collecting periodic "taxes" on criminal activity and turning the proceeds over to the prison gang. Prosecutors said the suspects took money from gang members who they thought had broken gang rules or disobeyed orders.
Alberto Vargas, 49; Gloria Aguilar, 55; Joe Lara, 40; Raul Gonzalez Hernandez, 36; Edward Barela, 49; Richard Aguilar, 43; Ismael Esquivel, 33; Marvin Robles, 47, and Annette Gomez, 33, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of all charges, the newspaper said. They were being held on $1 million bail each.
The arrests came after an investigation by the Anaheim Police Department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration that involved the use of surveillance and undercover work, prosecutors said.