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Delatorre v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 11, 2015



RUBÉN CASTILLO, District Judge.

Fernando Delatorre ("Petitioner") is serving a life sentence for his participation in a racketeering conspiracy and other offenses. In February 2013, he moved to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("the Petition"). (R. 1, Pet.) This Court denied the Petition. (R. 6, Min. Entry.) He has now filed several documents seeking reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), as well as motions seeking various other forms of relief. ( See R. 8, Mem. of Law; R. 9, Mot. for Reconsideration; R. 10, Mot. for Stay; R. 13, Mot. to Rescind; R. 14, Mot. for Transcripts; R. 15, Supplemental Mem. of Law; R. 17, Notice to Ct.) His filings are addressed below.


The facts relating to Petitioner's conviction are set forth in three opinions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, see United States v. Morales, 655 F.3d 608 (7th Cir. 2011); United States v. Benabe, 654 F.3d 753 (7th Cir. 2011); United States v. Benabe, 436 Fed.App'x 639 (7th Cir. Aug. 18, 2011) (per curiam), and several orders of this Court, see United States v. Delatorre, 572 F.Supp.2d 967 (N.D. Ill. 2008); United States v. Delatorre, 522 F.Supp.2d 1034 (N.D. Ill. 2007); United States v. Delatorre, 508 F.Supp.2d 648 (N.D. Ill. 2007); United States v. Delatorre, 438 F.Supp.2d 892 (N.D. Ill. 2006). The facts are repeated here only as they pertain to the Petition.

"The Insane Deuces was a street gang engaged in a long-running conspiracy involving deadly violence and drug distribution in northern Illinois." Benabe, 654 F.3d at 756. In 2002, state and federal authorities began an intensive investigation into the Insane Deuces after one of its members, Orlando Rivera, agreed to serve as a confidential informant. Morales, 655 F.3d at 615. Petitioner was among sixteen men indicted on various racketeering-related charges in connection with the investigation. Id. The evidence adduced at trial showed that the Insane Deuce Nation (also referred to as the "Insane Deuces, " "Deuces, " or the "Nation") was an organized street gang affiliated with the Folks, a national network of local gangs. Id. The gang was predominantly made up of Latino/Hispanic males and operated primarily within northern Illinois, though other factions existed throughout Illinois and various state and federal prisons. Id. The government's investigation focused on the Aurora Deuces, a chapter with a significant presence in Aurora, Illinois. Id. As of 2002, the Aurora Deuces had become bitter rivals of the Latin Kings (also referred to as the "Kings"). Id. at 616. This rivalry resulted in "frequent and escalating violence, " and often resulted in attacks on innocent persons who were mistakenly believed to be rival gang members. Id.

The Insane Deuces had its own set of "leyas, " or laws, as well as a detailed hierarchy. Id. There were three tiers of membership within the gang: Seniors, Juniors, and Shorties. Id. Shorties were the gang's youngest members, and they held the responsibility of carrying out most of the gang's activities, including shootings and other acts of violence, as well as selling drugs to fund the gang. Id. Shorties were often juveniles who were recruited to increase the gang's ranks. Id. By participating in gang activities, Shorties could work their way up to becoming Juniors, who were responsible for the gang's day-to-day operations. Id. Juniors directed Shorties in their activities, including determining who would participate in particular acts of violence, distributing firearms, and otherwise supervising the Shorties' activities. Id. Seniors were "longstanding members of the gang whose age and accomplishments made them the leaders, broad-scope planners, and advisors for the gang." Id. Seniors directed Juniors on larger issues, but they were more removed from the gang's day-to-day activities. Id.

The gang's daily activities included selling drugs to benefit the gang, carrying out "missions" (attacks on rival gang members), protecting and supporting fellow gang members and their families, punishing gang members who violated the gang's rules, and conducting meetings to further these goals. Id. The gang also maintained a "caja" system, which was "a loose form of community property and money acquired for the benefit of gang members." Id. For instance, if a gang member was arrested, other members of the gang could take money from the caja to bail him out of jail. Id. The caja also included a stash of drugs from which a gang member could borrow to make sales or trades for the benefit of the gang. Id. Gang members were also permitted to sell drugs from outside sources, but all sales needed to benefit the gang in some way, usually by paying part of the proceeds into the caja. Id. Profits from drug sales were also used to purchase firearms for the gang. Id. These guns were used to conduct missions and to protect fellow gang members, and were usually returned to the caja after the mission was completed, unless they were disposed of to avoid ballistics evidence after a murder was committed. Id.

Participation in the gang was mandatory for Juniors and Shorties; this included gang members who were "rolled back" from Senior to Junior status in 2002 as part of an effort to better train and lead the gang's growing number of Shorties. Id. Every Junior and Shorty member had to pay dues to the caja. Id. Missions were assigned to specific gang members, usually Shorties, and primarily consisted of attacks on rival gang members in retaliation for acts of violence or perceived encroachment on the gang's territory. Id. at 616-17. Guns were distributed for these missions, and members were directed to empty the entire magazine or suffer punishment for every bullet not fired. Id. at 617. In addition to these planned attacks, all members of the gang were required to comply with a "standing order" to attack Latin Kings whenever they had the opportunity to do so. Id. Members worked their way up through the gang by participating in missions and other acts of violence, and by donating money or firearms to the caja through drug sales or theft. Id. In exchange for their participation, gang members and their families received financial support and physical protection; these benefits applied to gang members on the street as well as gang members incarcerated in correctional facilities. Id.

Working with authorities, Rivera surreptitiously recorded several meetings and conversations between Insane Deuces, reported on the gang's activities and plans, and conducted controlled buys of narcotics and firearms from gang members. Id. The intelligence gathered through Rivera produced evidence regarding "four murders, eleven attempted murders, two solicitations to commit murder, other shootings, and narcotics distribution incidents - all of which the Deuces perpetrated in 2002 alone." Id. In exchange for his cooperation, Rivera was given full immunity and received monetary compensation. Id. From information obtained through Rivera, government authorities learned about each of the defendants' roles in the gang. Id.

As of 2002, Petitioner held the position of "First Seat Shorty." Benabe, 436 Fed.App'x at 644. In that role, "he was responsible for ensuring that the Shorties went out on missions' with guns." Id. The Seventh Circuit summarized some of the evidence against Petitioner as follows:

[I]n a recorded meeting on August 22, 2002, Delatorre confirmed that the gang was involved in the July 18, 2002 shooting of a rival Latin King. He also admitted to being the driver in the [David] Lazcano murder, giving specific details, including the car he drove and the type of gun used. The jury heard a recorded conversation between Rivera and Delatorre on October 19, 2002, when the two met to dispose of two firearms. Delatorre told Rivera in the recording that he and other Insane Deuces killed David Morales on October 16, 2002. Law enforcement recovered the firearms. Ballistics evidence matched one gun to the Morales murder and the other to two shootings - a September 19, 2002 attempted murder in which a bystander was shot in the back, and a September 28, 2002 attempted murder in which another bystander, a 14-year-old boy, was shot in the back and paralyzed.

Benabe, 654 F.3d at 759. After his arrest in January 2003, Petitioner confessed to his involvement in the murders of Lazcano, Morales, and a third individual. Benabe, 436 Fed.App'x at 644.

In 2006, Petitioner and fifteen other Insane Deuces were indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy; assault with a dangerous weapon, murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering activities; illegal possession of firearms; distribution and possession of narcotics; and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Morales, 655 F.3d at 618. One of the sixteen pleaded guilty and another remained a fugitive. Id. Given the logistical challenges of trying the remaining fourteen defendants in a single courtroom, the Court severed the case into two trials. Id. Petitioner was grouped with the leaders of the gang, who proceeded to trial first. Benabe, 654 F.3d at 756.

The trial of the first group began in February 2008, and ended in late April 2008. Id. at 757. Over this period, the jury heard extensive evidence of gang members' participation in murders, attempted murders, and shootings through the testimony of eyewitnesses and cooperating witnesses, recorded co-conspirator statements, and ballistics evidence. Id. Five former gang members testified on behalf of the government, "describing for the jury the gang's structure, leadership, and membership, its ...

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