LOS ANGELES (CN) - A criminal defense attorney was sentenced Thursday to seven years in federal prison for racketeering and money laundering on behalf of gangs.
Isaac Guillen, 52, committed the crimes on behalf of the Mexican Mafia and the 18th Street gang, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
"Guillen was a member of a street gang during his late teens, leaving that life behind to attend the UCLA School of Law and become a successful criminal defense attorney," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement announcing his sentence. "But he became an associate of the Columbia Lil' Cycos (CLCS) clique of the 18th Street gang while doing legal work for a member of that criminal street gang.
"Guillen admitted that he used the shield of the attorney-client privilege to relay CLCS communications to and from convicted Mexican Mafia member Francisco 'Puppet' Martinez, who was serving multiple life sentences at the federal 'supermax' prison in Florence, Colorado. With Guillen's help, Martinez was able to continue to run the CLCS from behind the walls of the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility, which is regarded as the nation's most secure prison.
"In addition to facilitating communications between Martinez and the CLCS leadership, Guillen laundered more than $1.3 million in drug and extortion proceeds on the organization's behalf by, among other things, creating three businesses and providing funds for the establishment of a methamphetamine laboratory.
"The State Bar of California disbarred Guillen in late 2010."
The CLCS used violence and intimidation to control the street drug trade around MacArthur Park, prosecutors said, making tens of thousands of dollars a week by "renting" dealers corners to sell drugs.
One dealer who refused to pay his $50 rent was shot four times on Sept. 15, 2007, but survived, though a 3-week-old baby sleeping in a stroller next to him was shot to death, prosecutors said.
Forty-three CLCS gang members were indicted in 2009. Thirty-seven were convicted; six are fugitives, prosecutors said.