Mongols Case Scorecard

October 13, 2009

All Posts, News

Here is a summary of the three principal federal cases involving members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club as of today. The three cases are United States versus Cavazos and others in Los Angeles; US versus Maestas and others in Denver; and US versus Christopher Ablett in Oakland.

Cavazos Count One

Seventy-nine members and associates of the club were indicted a year ago. Jorge Cottini died in custody. Peter Soto has not yet been arraigned. Seventy-seven other defendants have been arraigned.

Forty four defendants have agreed to plea and sentencing agreements with the prosecutors. All but one of these defendants has pled guilty to Count One of the Indictment.

Count One alleges, in part, that, “Beginning on a date unknown, and continuing to on or about October 9, 2008” the defendants “being persons employed by and associated with the Mongols criminal enterprise, which enterprise engaged in and the activities of which affected interstate and foreign commerce, unlawfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together and with each other to violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962, that is, to conduct and participate, directly and indirectly, in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, as that term is defined in Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1961(1) and 1961(5), consisting of multiple acts involving murder…distribution of controlled substances, including methamphetamine and cocaine…and multiple acts indictable under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956 and 1957 (money laundering). It was a further part of the conspiracy that each defendant agreed that a conspirator would commit at least two acts of racketeering in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise.”

The first conspirator to “confess” was former club President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos.

The Remaining Defendants

According to an informed attorney close to the case, four more defendants are “optimistic” about negotiating plea and sentencing agreements with prosecutors. Those defendants are Horacio Ponce, Felix Figueroa, Ismael Rivera and Thomas Alarcon.  This informed attorney appears to be generally correct but is misinformed in at least one instance.

The same source identifies seven defendants who are not prepared to proceed with a trial scheduled for November 24th and do not expect to negotiate plea deals before then. Those defendants, according to the attorney, are Anthony Mark Tinoco, William Michael Munz, Walter Ramirez, Manuel Armendariz, Mark Garcia, William Owens and Manuel Melgoza.  The source is wrong about Owens.  Another source has definitively told this page that Owens will go to trial on November 24th.  This page has not been about to confirm whether Tinoco, Munz, Ramirez, Armendariz, Garcia or Melgoza will seek another continuance or not.  The problem many defendants seem to have had in this case is full and complete discovery of the evidence against them.

The informed attorney further identifies defendants who expect to go to trial on November 24th as former club President Hector Gonzalez, Jr., Robert Vincent Rios, Jorge Viramontes, Anthony Zuniga, Jon Jay Morein, Raymond Anthony Trujillo, Renato Gomez, Ismael David Padilla, Jr. and Jose Morales.

One defendant, Lawrence Wilson, is known to be cooperating with the prosecution. The actions and intentions of the remaining four defendants is unknown to the informed attorney and is difficult to discern from public documents. Those defendants are Ruben Cavazos, Jr., Ismael Padilla, Edward Moreno and Lance Eustice.

The Restraining Order

It has now been more than a month since attorneys representing the Mongol Nation Motorcycle Club corporation asked the presiding judge in this case, Florence-Marie Cooper, to modify a restraining order she issued a year ago regarding the motorcycle club’s registered trademarks.

The two trademarks are the word “Mongols” and the Mongols logo which is a line drawing of a Mongol warrior wearing a top knot and bell bottom jeans, brandishing a scimitar while riding a motorcycle with a rigid frame. Judge Cooper agreed with the government last October, that the name “Mongols” was a valuable asset of what might be a criminal organization and so should be “preserved.”

Zealous agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives interpreted this restraining order to mean that, “any law enforcement officer (who) sees a Mongol wearing his patch…will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back.” At the end of July, in a civil case titled Ramon Rivera versus Ronnie A. Carter et al., Judge Cooper made it clear that her injunction did not mean that.

Government prosecutors objected to the modification of the restraining order a month ago. As of today, October 13th, Judge Cooper has still not ruled on the Mongols motion.


The Colorado case accuses eleven members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club of drug sales, talking about drug sales on the telephone, identity theft, wire fraud, witness intimidation, possessing a motor vehicle that did not have a valid Vehicle Identification Number, and illegally possessing firearms. None of these defendants is accused of racketeering.

The lead defendant in this case, Benjamine Maestas, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors last May. The deal was sealed. Maestas appears to be cooperating with the government and his ten codefendants have been trying to unseal his plea and sentencing agreement for the last four months.

The judge in the case, Robert E. Blackburn, seems determined to keep Maestas agreement secret. He denied a motion to unseal the deal on September 28th. Another hearing is scheduled for November 30th. No trial date has been set.


Christopher Bryan Ablett is accused of murdering Mark Guardado, then President of the Frisco charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, last September and like the Mongols defendants in Los Angeles, he is accused of racketeering. Most of Ablett’s indictment is really an indictment of the Mongols. The club is accused of “maintaining…control and authority” over “territory,” seeking to expand that territory and, “preserving, protecting and expanding the power of the Mongols through the use of intimidation, violence, threats of violence, assault and murder.”

After reiterating this charge of violent territoriality four or five different ways, Ablett’s indictment accuses him murdering Guardado “as consideration for the receipt of and as consideration for a promise and agreement to pay anything of pecuniary value from the Mongols and for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing his position in the Mongols, an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity….”

Ablett faces a mandatory death sentence if he is convicted and his case has proceeded very deliberately. Ablett changed attorneys on September 23rd and since that time no additional hearings have been scheduled in his case.

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21 Responses to “Mongols Case Scorecard”

  1. Taino Says:

    It’s still a “Black and White ” World ,Love and respect to The World of Black and White, Taino MFFM!

  2. BROTHER Says:


  3. BROTHER Says:



    im there with u james. we just have to be patient. there’s a reason why we have this cabinet in place, “they know what there doing” hang on in there brothers we’ll be flying soon.

  5. JAMES Says:

    I know as bad as members want to wear their patches that the word has not come down from the top, and the lawyers have not said to to so, so I think people should be a bit more calm and give it time, as the members know who they are and it won’t be much longer.And as said earlier by someone let the lawyers do their jobs and bring this to a close.

  6. SBW Says:

    Technically only Rivera has the legal standing to display his Patch without the fear of it being seized. That also applies to any item bearing the “MONGOLS” trademark that Rivera may posess.

    The Club has filed suit on behalf of Members in good standing,family members,affiliates and The Mongol Nation Motorcycle Club.

    As the Club owns the trademark or trademarks in dispute they have legal standing on other grounds then Rivera and as such have filed their own suit.

    As stated in the Goverments extensive briefing they have voluntarily ceased siezing items bearing the “MONGOLS” trademark. They (the Goverment) as well as the Mongols MC are awaiting a ruling that not only addresses the issue of displaying the mark by unindicted third parties but also what if any items that have been siezed are to be returned, along with when and how it is to be returned.

    As with any legal issue before the Court some areas of the case may already have been decided in respect to case law. This case is very unique as it is the first time for this type of action sought by the Goverment. Also Judge Cooper has made a ruling as to the Motorcycles that have already been siezed which I believe is in Appelate Court as of now, which adds a twist to this case as well.

    The fact is this is the first case filed by the Goverment in this way. With that being said this is all new ground for ALL parties involved.

    The Judge wants to rule correctly,the Goverment wants to present it’s case from their perspective and the Plantiffs want to be heard on their legal standing as well. I believe that all the parties involved are acting on what they believe is right, unfortunately now that the facts have been entered, the Goverment nor the Mongols want to do anything that would jeopardize their case in part or whole so it’s a waiting game to get a prelimanary injuction against the restraing order.

    We all have opions of what is right and wrong but we can’t think for the Judge it is her call as to how the laws are to be interpreted. So why take the chance and be wrong when all the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club Inc. has to do is wait for a clear definitive answer from Judge Cooper in regards to the complete motion filed by the Club.

    Stay strong MONGOLS MC listen to your Lawyers it’s what they get paid for. You don’t have to like the system just accept it as not being perfect, time tells all.

  7. Mr. America Says:

    Now, can we get that in straight-up Spanglish?

  8. Rebel Says:

    Dear Real Deal,

    The judgement in Rivera reads:

    “The Court hereby preliminarily enjoins the Government, its officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and anyone in active concert or participation with any of the foregoing persons, from seizing, or asking or directing any other person or entity to seize, from Plaintiff any property or item bearing or displaying all or part of the collective membership mark at issue in United States v. Cavazos, Case No. 2:08-cr-1201-FMC.”

    And, you are right that only Rivera was the plaintiff. But that is not how case law works. Judge Cooper could only rule on plaintiff Rivera because he was the only plaintiff. Rivera was a “test case.” The ruling is not Rivera’s exclusive, private law. The feds know this. That is why they stopped seizing patches after the judgment in this civil case. The “legal fiction” in Rivera is that he is the only Mongol who had his property seized.

    Judge Cooper, because she is timid, intentionally danced around the First Amendment issue. Her exact phrase was “the elementary rule is that every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.”

    And, then she went ahead and gave her opinion on the constitutionality of seizing the patch:

    “In light of additional facts disclosed at the hearing for this matter on June 22, 2009, it is now clear that seizure of property bearing the mark at issue would have serious First Amendment implications. At the June 22 hearing, the Government revealed for the first time that the mark it sought to forfeit was a collective membership mark. Previously, in its Ex Parte Application for Post-Indictment Restraining Order, the Government referred to the mark simply as a trademark, which was “purportedly for use in commerce in connection with promoting the interests of persons interested in the recreation of riding motorcycles.” (Ciccone Decl. ¶ 4.) In contrast to commercial trademarks, which are used in commerce and generally not entitled to full First Amendment protections, collective membership marks are used by members of an organization to “indicat[e] membership in a union,an association, or other organization.” 15 U.S.C. § 1127. The use and display of collective membership marks therefore directly implicate the First Amendment’s right to freedom of association.
    The Supreme Court has recognized that “‘implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment’ is ‘a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends.’ This right is crucial in preventing the majority from imposing its views on groups that would rather express other, perhaps unpopular, ideas.”

    She also guts the next thing the government intends to say before they even have a chance to say it:

    “Though the symbol may at times function as a mouthpiece for unlawful or violent behavior, this is not sufficient to strip speech of its First Amendment protection.”

    Then, on the subject of whether she is only talking about one plaintiff or all unindicted Mongols, Cooper writes:

    “The seizure of property is also viewpoint or content-based, which triggers strict scrutiny. See Crawford v. Lungren, 96 F.3d 380, 384 (9th Cir. 1996) (“If the statute is content-based, we apply strict scrutiny to determine whether the statute is tailored to “serve a compelling state interest and is narrowly drawn to achieve that end.”). Though it is arguable whether a compelling reason exists to prevent the display of the Mongols trademark, the seizure of all property bearing the mark cannot be considered the least restrictive alternative.”

    Cooper is ruling that seizing property that bears the Mongols mark from anybody specifically violates the case law of Crawford versus Lundgren in 1996.

    And, that said, don’t listen to me. Listen to the lawyer. You are paying him. I am just talking.

    Good luck,

  9. Rebel Says:

    Dear Real Deal,

    Not quite. Everyone in the Mongols Motorcycle Club who is not indicted has the legal right to wear the patch. Whether the club advises you to do that or not is club business. There were, for example, Mongols patches at the funeral for James Hicks last weekend. What is yet to be decided is when unindicted members of the club who have had property seized will get that property back.

    your pal,

  10. Not Surprised Says:

    This was a Motion filed in the midst of an ongoing Criminal trial. As of yet, no jury has been involved so the Judge has full discretion. Since Motions naming mutliple Plaintiffs are traditonally filed in Civil Courts, the Judge can only respond to the Paintiff.

    But her ruling used language that makes it clear a precedent has been set not only in this case, but in future cases of this nature. It is illegal for any Judge to say it is legal for one member not under indictment to be protected and not others.

    She states that since Doc never owned the trademark, it is not subject to RICO foreiture and even if it were, unless and until a ruling is made BEFORE A JURY allowing the Government to seize the trademark, there is no legal grounds to confiscate it from anyone not currently under this indictment.

    She specifically stated by name John Ciccione and said the Government had failed to state a legal claim whereby its Motion could be granted. She said that the Government indicated the trademark was a revenue producing logo like the name “Coca Cola” and that this was untrue.

    She also said the mark does not nor has it ever belonged to one person but since 1969 had been used by what she calls “The Mongols Nation” and it was used by members to identify and associate with other members which is protected under the First Ammendment.

    Since all of us know the First Ammendment applies to everyone this means that “The Mongols Nation” (at least those not under this indictment) are free to display the trademark without fear of seizure.

    I mean no disrespect to the club or its lawyers. There isn’t going to be a legal document other than the one the Judge already signed and made law.

    What she basically did was REVERSE her original restraining order which was only to be in effect until the actual arguments could be heard in Court. She did NOT rule whether or not the Government can or cannot continue to seek ownerhsip of the trademark, that may be esttled by a jury at some later date. This is the limit of her authority. Remeber a Judge cannot rule on something that is never put before the Bench. Unless Rivera had filed this motion, the original restraining order would be in full effect.

    That is the fucked up thing about the legal system: a Judge cannot be your attorney and even if he or she KNOWS your attorney fucked up by not objecting or by not filing the right motion, they have to be “blind” to that sort of stuff.

    When a Federal Judge makes a First ammendment ruling, it reigns until challenged and it reigns for all in that Federal District.I cannot say this Judge’s ruling would apply, say in Alaska.

    with respect

  11. REAL DEAL Says:


  12. JAMES Says:

    AS I understand it they are waiting on the go ahead to fly from the CLUB LAWYERS.

  13. cdgridr Says:

    I agree with the selfish one…Thats the impression I was under as well… Not all members can “legally” wear their patches. Only Rivera can. Any clarification on that???


    that judjement is only for him. the aclu in san diego helped him with that. i have the copy your talking about but that by no means say’s the club as a whole can wear it. untill mother tells me i can it’s still illegel.

  15. Rebel Says:

    Dear Selfish One,

    The case is Rivera v. Carter et al. I will send you a copy.

    Back at you,


    hey rebel while i do find your blogs entertaining minuse the samcro soap, id like to see the paper work stating we can legally wear the patch. alot of brother do read this blog. but we’ve gotten no such word. with much respect.

  17. Rebel Says:

    Dear Joe,

    If you are not indicted, you can legally wear the patch.


  18. Joe Says:

    So the bottom line on whether or not the members of the Mongols can now wear their full patches instead of t-shirts is ??

  19. cdgridr Says:

    I dont understand why you wouldnt look forward to the Cavazos Ciccone Comedy Hour… It already sounds like a hoot. Just as long as it doesnt clash with Conan O Brian, them im cool.

  20. Rebel Says:

    Dear Ret11BX,

    Yes. Doc flipped in January. I wrote yesterday that his son is one of four defendants whose actions and intentions are very clouded in this case. Read anything you want into that.

    I have had some little contact with actors in this drama, through an intermediary who is a psychic paralegal in Dubai who knows some other psychics who are channeling some defendants or their representatives in this case. My psychic tells me his psychics have heard nothing from Lil Rubes.

    When Doc flipped, he pled guilty to Counts One and Two of the indictment. I have not seen his plea deal. It is very, very secret –you know, like the Aurora Project. Generally Doc’s crimes carry a punishment of up to 20 years in federal prison. I happen to think, just a hunch, that Doc Cavazos will do much less time than that.

    Guessing wildly, I think Ruben “Doc” Cavazos will be rehabilitated after three to five years in prison. When he emerges from the belly of the beast he will no longer have tattoos and he will own several Armani suits. First thing, Paul Rodriguez will play Doc in the bio-pic. Probably, in act 3, Doc will leave Salma Hayek for Shakira. Also, right out of the gate, Doc will take over the role of Dos Equis’ most interesting man in the world. I do not know when the next volume of Doc’s memoirs will be out. Doc’s agent, Alan Nevins, keeps ducking my phone calls. (Do me a favor, Call old Alan and ask him why he don’t want to talk to Rebel about Doc. Alan’s phone number is 323-848-8305.)

    The most famous thing F. Scott Fitzgerald ever said is “There are no second acts in America.” That was then. Now it is all second acts. Now that Doc is famous, I do not see how he can avoid getting as many second acts as he wants. I am kind of eager to see how it all plays out. I can hardly wait for The Doc Cavazos Hour of Faith on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. I am also really looking forward to Cooking Mexican With Doc on PBS. The Cavazos and Ciccone Comedy Hour on late night NBC, not so much.

    your pal,

  21. Ret11BX Says:

    So did Doc flip? what happen to his son Lil Rubes. What are the odds Doc will survive in prison.

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