Two members of the Mexican drug gang Los Palillos will spend the rest of their lives in prison for their roles in the several kidnappings and murders.
Jose Olivera Beritan was sentenced Friday to five consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole plus forty-four years for the 2007 murders of Cesar Uribe, Marc Leon, and Ivan Lozano.
Co-defendant David Valencia was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole plus fifteen years for the kidnapping for ransom charges of Uribe and Leon.
Uribe’s family was extorted for hundreds of thousands of dollars with the promise their relative and his friend Marc Leon would be released but that never happened.
“In the end the Los Palillos organization decided to strangle them and then dissolve their bodies in acid to get rid of the evidence,” said Mark Amador, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney.
Amador described Beritan and Valencia as sociopaths.
“They could care less about anybody else. They had no conscience. They participated fully,” Amador said.
“They were only interested in the money and the greed aspect of it.”
Jurors convicted the two gang members in May after listening to months of testimony and viewing more than 600 exhibits in the high-profile trial.
There were 17 defendants in the investigation. Six were in custody and were slated to be tried in San Diego.
The next trial, estimated to last nine to 12 months, will involve two alleged leaders of Los Palillos. That trial is expected to begin in November.
There are still five fugitives in the case.
Los Palillos, (the “Toothpicks” in Spanish), broke away from a Tijuana cartel and brought its brutal methods of murder and kidnapping to the San Diego area around 2002 according to prosecutors.
The crew then began trafficking methamphetamine and marijuana, and committed numerous violent crimes.
The gang was known to dissolve their victims' corpses in vats of acid inside a San Diego home according to prosecutors.
Some members of the ring were arrested in June of 2007, when law enforcement located a kidnapping victim being held at a home on Point Dume Court in Chula Vista.
FBI SWAT operations rescued the 32-year old kidnapping victim (a business man living in Chula Vista) and apprehended five kidnappers.
Two leaders of Los Palillos were convicted of kidnapping for ransom in December of 2008 and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in January 2009.