In a verdict issued Friday night, Luis Manuel Tapia, leader of the Oxnard-based Colonia Chiques street gang and a validated associate of the Mexican Mafia prison gang, was found guilty of 26 federal charges, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Tapia, 37, now faces four mandatory life sentences and an additional consecutive 55 years when sentenced by District Judge Otis D. Wright II December 15.
The evidence presented against Tapia in the two-week trial alleged that Tapia was involved with running the Colonia Chiques and involved in selling firearms and narcotics, according to the press release.
Among the evidence presented was a series of secretly recorded meetings, where Tapia alluded to himself as the “CEO” of his operation. He compared it to Walmart, stating that he had an array of contraband.
There was also evidence shown to the jury where Tapia is heard boasting that his heroin was so strong it “killed six people” and was “good advertisement” for his operation. He went on to explain that his high-quality methamphetamine — which lab results reportedly proved was oftentimes 100 percent pure — was from Mexican drug cartels.
During another stage of the investigation, authorities seized 2.5 pounds of heroin, over 9 ounces of cocaine, 9.6 ounces of methamphetamine, cash and two loaded firearms inside a hidden trap in a car Tapia owned, according to the press release.
Four of Tapia’s co-defendants — Diana Zamora, Edgar Aguilar, Roger Armendariz and Jaime Cardenas — pled guilty to conspiring in the trafficking of narcotics and/or firearms. They received sentences of up to 10 years in federal prison. An unknown man, known as “Pancho,” who allegedly supplied narcotics to Tapia, is a fugitive believed to be in Mexico.
Tapia’s trial caps the second phase of "Operation Supernova,” a multi-agency investigation into Ventura County’s largest street gang.