Local gangsters receive federal prison sentences

ATLANTA - Thirteen members of the notorious Sur-13 street gang - including two Lawrenceville men - were slapped with federal sentences this week.

The gang, sometimes referred to as Sureños-13, had a stronghold in Atlanta and Gwinnett since 1995, perpetuating drive-by murders, armed robberies and a widespread drug trade, authorities said. Four of the gang's highest-ranking members were sentenced this week to life without parole.

Federal prosecutors said the Lawrenceville gangsters - Freddie Sandoval, 22, and Rodolfo Perez, 29 - had been heavily involved with the gang since they were teenagers.

Sandoval was convicted of racketeering and drug charges on Oct. 25 last year. He was sentenced this week to 15 years in federal prison.

Perez received a lesser sentence - five years probation, including six months home confinement - in light of his cooperation with prosecutors and testimony in federal trials, said U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Patrick Crosby.

Perez pleaded guilty Dec. 18, 2006, to racketeering charges. He was shot by a rival gang member in 1998 - an injury that relegated him to a wheelchair, Crosby said.

According to court documents, Sandoval was heavily involved in training Sur-13 recruits - some of them as young as 13 years old - as part of the "Tiny Locos" faction. He was behind several pedestrian armed robberies, numerous burglaries and drive-by shootings against rival gang members, said Crosby.

Sandoval was also in charge of training young recruits to tag the gang's territory with Sur-13 graffiti and fight rival factions. In 2005, he also was involved in selling marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, according to documents.

Sur-13 members have "committed countless acts of violence, including the murders of innocent persons," said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias. "The sentences in this case demonstrate the harsh but just consequences for gang members."

With the exception of Sandoval, who is a U.S. citizen, all the defendants will be deported upon completion of their sentences, said authorities.