New law helps LCSO detectives target gangs online
Lee County Sheriff’s detectives arrested 14 teens and adults alleged to be gang members this week as the result of a sting operation targeting the online promotion and recruitment of criminal organizations on social networking sites like myspace.com.
A new state statute put into effect by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum makes it a third-degree felony to promote gangs electronically, as well as stiffens penalties of other gang-related crimes.
The statute allowed the Sheriff’s Office to make the arrests based on hundreds of hours of planning and investigation by their Gangs and Intelligence Units during “Operation Firewall.”
One youth was charged based on what officials called a “hit list” on a Web site.
Devin Goldie, 15, of 1735 N.W. 13th Terrace, had composed a list entitled “people I want to kill” on his myspace page, including the names of classmates, a teacher and a principal at North Fort Myers High School where he was a student; and a Cape Coral police officer, according to LCSO spokesperson Tony Schall.
He was charged with electronic communications to harass by a gang member and written threat to kill or injure.
Goldie is a self-proclaimed member of a gang recognized as a national threat by the FBI called “JUGGALO,” Schall said in a written release.
Family members could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
Others arrested include Felix Cuevas, 58, of 4510 S.E. 6th Street, Apt A. He was a veteran member of the Latin Kings street gang in New York who was recruiting new members in Lee County, according to detectives Friday.
Cuevas was charged with five counts of recruiting for a criminal street gang and various related charges, according to booking records for the Lee County Jail.
Twelve others, including two Cape Coral residents, received various charges ranging from promoting gangs electronically to invoking the kingpin statute to RICO.
Those charged include:
* Richard Figueroa-Santiago, 22, of 311 N.W. 10th Street, gang member use of electronic communication to harass.
* Yan Rocha, 22, of 627 Southwest 23rd Street, gang member use of electronic communication to harass.
* Victor Cruz, 17, of 3106 S.W. 28th Street, Lehigh Acres, gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
* Obduella Soto, 25, of 626 Carolina Avenue, Fort Myers, two counts of gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
* Miguel Jimenez Jr., 17, of 4236 Edgewood Avenue, Fort Myers, gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
* Isaias Antonio, 16, of 4935 Billy’s Creek Drive, Fort Myers, gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
* Uriel Lujan, 15, of 7480 Garry Road, Fort Myers, gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
* Erik Hernandez, 14, of 2432 Pauldo Street, Fort Myers, gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
* Pablo Ortega, 46, of 4424 Lake Heather Circle, Saint James City, five counts of recruiting for a criminal streetgang, five counts of public order crimes criminal attempt to solicit or conspire level 1 or 2, cruelty towards child without great harm, racketeering and using a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony.
* Priscilla Ortiz, 23, of 11350 Redbud Lane, Bonita Springs, 11 counts of possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, two counts of using a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony, racketeering and dealing in stolen property.
* Marcos Santiago, 17, of 5447 11th Street, Fort Myers, two counts of recruiting for a criminal streetgang and racketeering.
* Antonio Geminiano, 23, of 203 Second Street, Fort Myers, racketeering and two counts of gang member use of electronic communications to harass.
Additional arrests are pending, Schall said.