W.S. gang members, associates face prosecution
- Madras Pioneer - News
r the past few months, the U.S. District Court in Portland has prosecuted numerous cases connected to assaults and gang activity on the Warm Springs Reservation.
"The Warm Springs Police Department and the FBI have been working to combat gang violence on the Warm Springs Reservation, including shootings and drug dealing," said Craig Gabriel, assistant U.S. attorney, who was involved with prosecution of the cases.
Juan Manuel Lamebear, 26, of Warm Springs, was sentenced Oct. 2 to eight years in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and felon in possession of ammunition.
"He is a self-proclaimed member of the 18th Street Gang in Warm Springs," said Gabriel, noting that the U.S. Attorney's Office has prosecuted at least half a dozen other members or associates of the gang recently.
In the government's sentencing memorandum, U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall wrote, "Defendant, while intoxicated, traveled with his fellow 18th Street gang members to a residence on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation for the sole purpose of confronting the victim for supposedly disrespecting the 18th Street gang."
"Defendant, and at least one of his fellow gang members, were armed with handguns," she continued. "Defendant shot his pistol, and then subsequently participated in an assault in which the victim was pistol-whipped in the face."
District Judge Michael H. Simon handed down the sentence, for an incident that occurred exactly one year earlier, on Oct. 2, 2011.
"The Warm Springs Police Department is dedicated to eradicating gang violence on the reservation," said Gabriel. "The dangerous and violent actions of a few gang members can negatively affect the quality of life for an entire community."
When a major crime occurs on the reservation, he explained, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has jurisdiction to assist the Warm Springs Police Department in bringing offenders to justice.
Three other gang members are also in custody for assorted charges. Daniel Faustino Arce, 23, pleaded guilty June 5 to felon in possession of a firearm in connection to a driveby shooting. He was sentenced July 26 to 37 months in prison.
Daniel Jesus Ortiz, 23, pleaded guilty Aug. 8 to assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, both of which occurred on June 22, 2011, the day he was released from prison, according to Gabriel.
Ortiz is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5.
Shannon Rae Wilson, 28, pleaded guilty June 13 to felon in possession of a firearm, which occurred Oct. 5, 2011, at Juan Lamebear's residence.
"Lamebear gave her the guns (from the earlier incident) and she hid the guns in her residence," said Gabriel. "She's a felon and not allowed to possess a gun. She's scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 29."
Two others associated with the gang are also incarcerated. Erica Irene Wewa, 24, pleaded guilty June 20 to making a false statement to the FBI.
On March 27, Wewa unintentionally shot a known member of the 18th Street gang, who was flown by Life Flight to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.
Warm Springs police interviewed Wewa, who said she heard the gunshot and then went outside and saw the man bleeding. "We found out, instead, that it was Erica Wewa, playing with a gun," said Gabriel. "She didn't get charged for the accidental shooting."
Wewa is set to be sentenced in the U.S. District Court on Nov. 9.
Callie Shannon Howtopat, 22, was sentenced to six months in prison on March 22 for felon in possession of a firearm. She was released last week.
On Monday, Sept. 10, Christian Alvarez Rodriguez, 28, of the Portland area, pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine on the Warm Springs Reservation, which occurred on Feb. 17. Rodriguez, who is currently in federal custody, is scheduled for sentencing before Judge Ancer L. Haggerty on Nov. 20.
Gabriel praised the work of the Warm Springs Police Department. "Police Chief Carmen Smith has worked tirelessly to investigate gang crimes in the Warm Springs community," he said.