Feds bring murder charges in NW Indiana against Imperial Gangsters
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org November 9, 2012 7:18PM
East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker (gesturing, near left) speaks with the extended family of murder victim Rene Alonzo after a press conference announcing indictments against eight alleged members of the Imperial Gangsters at the East Chicago Public Safety Facility in East Chicago, Ind. Friday November 9, 2012. U.S. Attorney David Capp announced indictments against a number of gang members, including Richard Reyes whom he said killed Alonzo in 2007. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 11, 2012 6:13AM
Rene Alonzo’s family has waited more than five years to see justice for his killing.
They might finally receive it after federal prosecutors office in Indiana announced an expanded indictment in the East Chicago Imperial Gangsters racketeering case, including murder counts connected to five murders including Alonzo’s.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Richard Alonzo, Rene’s father, said.
Federal attorneys had already charged 15 people in the case, most of whom were charged with conspiracy to racketeer and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine. Eight new defendants now face those charges as well.
Defendants in the case were already charged with murder counts connected to the killings of seven people. The new indictment adds five more, including:
• Anuar David Paez, killed July 24, 2004, in East Chicago. Ace Cortez, 33, of East Chicago, faces two murder counts in connection to Paez’s killing.
• Guadalupe Trevino, shot and killed as he and a friend were driving past the Gary/Chicago International Airport on July 24, 2005. Jason Medina faces two counts of murder in the case.
• Alonzo, shot and killed after he agreed to drive someone to the U.S. Sports bar on Adler Street in East Chicago on Sept. 16, 2007. Richard Reyes, 40, of East Chicago, faces two counts of murder in the case.
• Mario Soriano, killed on March 25, 2008, in Hammond. Julian Guillermo Serna, 23, of Munster, faces two counts of murder in the case.
The conspiracy count also says that unnamed members of the Imperial Gangsters shot and killed Martin Navarro on July 7, 2004, in East Chicago while the 17-year-old was standing on his front porch. It also said that Julius Solis, 23, of East Chicago, murdered Alonzo Cavanoz on May 3, 2009, although no charges were filed specifically to those crimes.
The indictment details other violent acts by the gangsters, including firebombing the house of a rival gang member and beating someone up because he refused to join the gang.
Juan Briseno, who already faced 10 counts of murder in connection to five killings, is now also charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of using a gun in relation to a violent crime. Another new defendant, Julius Solis, also faces one count each of attempted murder and use of a gun during a violent crime.
The indictment says Briseno has been in contact with his fellow gang members since his arrest more than two years ago, including telling them how to recruit new members, about the quality of drugs and the possibility that he might meet a new drug connection while in jail.
“We are determined to rid Northwest Indiana of these [criminals],” U.S. Attorney David Capp said Friday afternoon at a press conference announcing the indictment.
All the defendants charged with murder could face the death penalty, although a final decision to pursue that is made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
For Rene Alonzo’s family, they’re happy to hear someone will be held responsible.
“It was great,” his father said of hearing the news. “...I always had hope that they would get the guy.”
He said his son was a hard union worker who was employed with his father and brother at BP. Rene worked every day to provide for his two children and girlfriend, Erica Renee Badillo, Richard Alonzo said. They lived together in Griffith, and he had plans to build a new house.
“He had no enemies,” Richard Alonzo said.
Badillo said their children have had to live with the pain of not seeing him again.
“The pain will always still be there,” she said. “It’s been tormenting my kids to be without their father.”