Gang member gets life in shakedown attempt that led to infant's death

Story highlights

  • Prosecutors say Javier Perez tried to silence a gang gunman who had killed an infant
  • Perez's gang tried to shake down a street vendor, and one of the gang opened fire
  • An infant was hit and killed, and Perez allegedly later tried to kill the gunman
  • Perez has been sentenced to life in a federal prison, where there is no parole

A federal judge has sentenced a Los Angeles gang member to life in prison in a botched shakedown attempt that led to an infant's shooting death in 2007, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Javier Perez, 35, is one of four members of the Columbia Lil' Cycos gang who were convicted of federal racketeering charges in May. Prosecutors said the gang forced drug dealers and street vendors to pay "rent" in exchange for being allowed to work in its territory.

The gang was targeting a street vendor near the city's MacArthur Park. When the street vendor refused to pay $50 "rent," one of the gang's gunmen opened fire and killed a 3-week-old child, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. The vendor survived despite being shot four times.

Prosecutors said Perez drove the gunman to Mexico, where he was told he could lay low -- but then Perez strangled the gunman and dumped him off a cliff, leaving him for dead. The man survived.

In addition to Perez, another gang member who took part in the attempted killing has been sentenced to life as well, prosecutors said.

There is no parole in the federal prison system.

The case is part of a larger crackdown on the gang that resulted in the indictment of 43 members and associates in 2009, the U.S. attorney's office said. All but six, who remain at large, have been convicted.

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