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Four men taken into custody for extortion in California

Four men were taken into custody by the Santa Barbara Police Department on Oct. 1 following a 16-month investigation. The men were allegedly extorting others for the benefit of a local street gang. Three of the men were reportedly members of Santa Barbara gangs, while one of the men had connections to Lompoc area gangs.

Police say that the defendants were conspiring to extort money on behalf of the Mexican Mafia. In addition to the extortion charges, one of the men was also charged with conspiracy to possess methamphetamine for sale for the benefit of a criminal street gang. Police also say that legitimate activity was mixed with illegal deeds, and gang members often call this act of collecting the money "collecting taxes."

The four men were taken without incident and booked in the Santa Barbara County Jail. Their $500,000 felony arrest warrants were obtained on Sept. 25.

In a criminal case involving gang crimes, the penalties for those convicted may be severe. Jail or prison time may be possible in addition to fines, probation or any other penalty that a judge may add to a sentence. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help those charged with such crimes to escape a conviction. It may be possible to argue that a defendant had no gang ties or was compelled through threats of violence to cooperate. Furthermore, a lawyer may argue that his or her client was conducting legitimate business activities with no illicit agenda behind the operation.

Source: KSBY, "SBPD: four gang members arrested on suspicion of committing extortion", Lindsay MacLeod, October 03, 2014

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