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PRESS RELEASE: Federal Murder Charges Announced in San Jose Gang Shooting

U.S. Attorney’s Office
April 24, 2013

Northern District of California
(415) 436-7200

Federal Murder Charges Announced in San Jose Gang Shooting

SAN JOSE—A federal grand jury in San Jose, California, indicted Jose Farias Barajas, a/k/a “Oso,” and Victor Manuel Rodriguez, a/k/a “Silencer,” both of San Jose, on April 24, 2013. with racketeering and murder, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

According to the superseding indictment, Barajas, 23, and Rodriguez, 25, are alleged to be members of the San Jose-based Sureño street gangs Varrio Colonias Trece (“Colonias” or “VCT”) and the Varrio Tami Lee Gangsters (“VTG”), respectively. Colonias and VTG have existed as Sureño street gangs in San Jose for over 10 years. The gangs are located in east San Jose, and their respective claimed territories have historically abutted and overlapped with each other. Their collective territory covers the area south of Story Road, north of Tully Road, east of McLaughlin Avenue, and west of Highway 101.

For at least the last five years, Colonias and VTG have joined forces and essentially operate as a single, unified association-in-fact enterprise, although they each retain their separate historical gang names, which are referred to in graffiti and tattoos. Colonias/VTG Gang members coordinate their activities and engage in violence together to defend their collective territory against rival Norteño gangs.

The superseding indictment alleges on August 13, 2012, in the vicinity of Denair Avenue and Letitia Street in San Jose, California, Rodriguez, aided by Barajas, who served as the driver, shot and killed an individual who they believed was a rival Norteño gang member. The indictment further alleges that the shooting was done in furtherance of the goals of the Colonias/VTG Gang.

The defendants also distributed methamphetamine as part of their ongoing gang activity.

The superseding indictment charges each defendant with the following:

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)—racketeering conspiracy
18 U.S.C. § 1959—violent crime in aid of racketeering
18 U.S.C. § 924(j)—use of firearm causing murder
21 U.S.C. § 846—conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute methamphetamine
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)—possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine
18 U.S.C. § 924(c)—use/possession of firearm in furtherance of crime of violence and drug trafficking crime
18 U.S.C. § 2—aiding and abetting
Additionally, Rodriguez is also charged with 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(3) & (5)—possession of a firearm by prohibited person, (a) an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance and (b) an alien who was illegally and unlawfully in the United States)

The maximum penalty each defendant faces upon conviction is life imprisonment. The decision whether to seek the death penalty against either defendant is pending. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

On October 3, 2012, the defendants were arrested on methamphetamine distribution charges and ordered detained. The defendants are currently in the custody of the United States Marshals Service. The case has been assigned to the Hon. Edward J. Davila for trial purposes.

The next appearance has been set for Monday, April 29 at 9:00 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal for arraignment on the superseding indictment.

Stephen Meyer and Daniel Kaleba are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of paralegal Nina Burney. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Jose Police Department.

An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Barajas and Rodriguez must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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