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Tacoma gang member pleads guilty in murder plot

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on Jan. 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm with No Comments »
January 13, 2012 1:06 pm

A Tacoma gang member accused of helping to orchestrate a murder from prison pleaded guilty this morning to leading organized crime.

Pablo Ortiz, 28, originally was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper sentenced Ortiz to 15 years in prison. Part of the sentence will run concurrently with another prison term Ortiz already is serving.

Prosecutors contend he and other incarcerated members of the Eastside Lokote Surenos plotted to have their gang’s leader, Juan Zuniga, killed in 2010.

Zuniga was shot to death at a Tacoma house in May of that year, allegedly by other ELS members still on the outside. His cohort did not like the way he was running the gang, court records show.

One of the alleged shooters, Naitaalii Toleafoa, recently was arrested in Mexico, deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer said in court Friday. Toleafoa is expected to be extradited to Tacoma by the end of the month, Ausserer said.

Seven people so far have been convicted of felonies in Zuniga’s death.

Nearly 20 members of the ELS gang were charged in 2010 in connection with three homicides, including the murder of Camille Love.

ELS members looking to avenge an earlier attack on one of their compatriots shot Love to death in February. Her brother, Josh Love, was wounded in the shooting.

Prosecutors said the gang decided to attack the Loves because she was driving a red car and he was wearing a red jacket. Red is the color associated with a rival gang.

A number of ELS members have been convicted in Love’s death, and three others are charged.

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