The Coast News Group
CrimeRancho Santa Fe

Member of Mexican Mafia pleads guilty

SAN DIEGO — Mexican Mafia member Rudy Espudo, who controlled gang activity and drug sales throughout North County, plead guilty to charges of racketeering, drug sales and brandishing a gun during a drug-trafficking crime at the U.S. District Court in San Diego on May 23.Espudo, also known as “Crazy,” and more than 20 other alleged gang members were arrested and charged in 2012 with organized crime and drug related activities.

The arrests were the result of “Operation Notorious County,” an investigation led by the North County Regional Gang Task Force and aided by federal, state and local officials from summer 2010 through January 2012.

According to the indictment, Espudo is a verified member of the Mexican Mafia, whose members controlled drug sales in Escondido, San Marcos, Fallbrook, as well as local prisons and jails including San Diego’s Vista Detention Facility.

The Mafia ruled over local Hispanic gangs, including Diablos, West Side, Varrio San Marcos, and Varrio Fallbrook Locos, by demanding a “tax” from its members in order to sell drugs in certain areas.

If a gang failed to pay the tax, the mafia would place a “green light” on that gang, authorizing mafia members and other gang affiliates to assault and/or murder the members of the offending gang in the community or in jails or prisons.

As one of the main members of the mafia in the area, Espudo had the ability to sanction the murder and/or assault of member of affiliated gangs and received proceeds from mafia taxes.

As part of his plea, he admitted to accepting payments from drug dealers who distributed methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs, according to a press release from the FBI and Department of Justice.

He also admitted to ordering the robbery of a drug dealer who refused to make tax payments with the use of a shotgun.

He was arrested on Jan. 25, 2012 at his home in Escondido and is currently in custody in San Diego, according to Debra Hartman, media representative for the Department of Justice.

Espudo, 40, faces a minimum of 27 years in prison, and will be sentenced Oct. 7, said Hartman.

He has several other prior convictions, including bringing illegal aliens into the U.S. in 2001 and possessing methamphetamine in prison in 1993, according to court records.