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  • Local prosecutors to help net gang members in the U.S. illegally

    first_img“We’re thrilled,” he said, adding that federal prosecutors have limited resources. “There’s a huge problem with illegal immigration.” Mrozek estimated there are more than 1 million illegal immigrants in the Central District overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which covers the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Mrozek said the two deputy D.A.s will join representatives from other agencies in their office. “We call them special assistant U.S. attorneys. They’re funded by those agencies,” Mrozek said. While the two local prosecutors will be sworn in as assistant federal prosecutors, they will remain county deputy D.A.s under the Hard Core Gang Unit, said Deputy D.A. Gary Hearnsberger, who heads the unit. “It’s an additional weapon for us,” he said. “There’s a lot of multinational gangs. You have a lot of criminals going across the border. I’m not saying anyone crossing the border is a criminal.” But there are a lot of criminals. They join gangs and go back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, Hearnsberger said. “They’re gangbanging here.” At Cooley’s recommendation, the two local prosecutors will handle cases in Los Angeles County. Part of the impetus was the case of Jorge Arroyo Garcia, who shot and killed Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy David March during an April 29, 2002, traffic stop in Irwindale. Garcia was a convicted felon who had been deported four times before he killed March. His prior convictions included selling drugs and possessing a concealed weapon. He fled to Mexico after the murder and remained on the run until he was arrested in Jalisco on Feb. 23, 2006. There was a delay in returning Garcia to the United States after a 2001 ruling by the Mexican Supreme Court that found life in prison without possibility of parole was cruel and unusual punishment. The decision banned the extradition to the U.S. of suspects facing such a sentence. But the court reversed itself in November 2005. Garcia was sent back and pleaded guilty to the deputy’s murder on March 2, 2007. Hearnsberger said Lunsford and Rai are both very capable lawyers who come with excellent reputations and have strong academic credentials. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Two local prosecutors will be helping their federal counterparts target gang members who were convicted and deported, then returned illegally to this country. Starting this month, L.A. County Deputy District Attorneys Brock Lunsford and Grace Rai will be working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office downtown. “What Grace and I are looking at are gang members who entered the country illegally,” Lunsford said. Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said District Attorney Steve Cooley approached federal officials about six months ago and volunteered to help prosecute these cases. last_img read more