Johnny Agudo, 33, who was president of the Seventh Street Gang in San Bernardino at the time, was arrested in May 1999 for selling narcotics, police testified Monday during the murder trial for Froylan Chiprez - the remaining defendant in the "Dead Presidents" murder.
Officials convinced Agudo to provide information about narcotics in the area and eventually used him to arrest a high ranking member of the Mexican Mafia.
"Johnny Agudo worked as a confidential informant and was successful in information he provided the police," San Bernardino police Sgt. Gary Schuelke said while on the stand inside the San Bernardino Superior Courthouse.
Schuelke said they try to keep informants anonymous to protect their identification and police did their best to hide the fact that they were working with Agudo.
But when asked if confidential informants are found out despite the police's best efforts to keep them secret, Schuelke said "yes they are."
"I've seen them get beaten, I've seen them get killed," he said.
Chiprez was a gunman in a shooting that killed four men and wounded two others on July 9, 2000, in the driveway of a Vine Street duplex in San Bernardino, Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum said.
The shooting happened because there were power struggles within the San Bernardino street gangs Little Counts and Seventh Street, cliques within the West Side Verdugo, controlled by a prison gang, Yoakum added.
Agudo, his brother, Gilbert "Gibby" Agudo, 27; Anthony "Antdog" Luna, 23; and Luna's cousin, Marcelino "Spooky" Luna, 19, were killed in the shooting.
Armondo Villasenor and Michael Velarde were wounded in the shooting but survived.
The Agudo brothers were presidents of local street gangs, prompting some law enforcement circles to dub the case "Dead Presidents."
Early that morning Chiprez and his crew got guns and bulletproof vests and went to the residence on Vine Street to remove fellow gang members from their positions of power, Yoakum said.
After plotting and planning, Chiprez and three others - Luis Mendoza, Lorenzo Arias and John Ramirez - opened fire on the victims, Yoakum said.
The suspect's fled the scene and authorities arrested Chiprez on June 21, 2011, in Tijuana. He was extradited to the U.S. in December.
Chiprez is charged with four counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and special circumstances for an intentional killing while being active in a street gang, according to court records.
Because Chiprez was extradited from Mexico, prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty. Instead, he is facing life without the possibility of parole.
Two of the other defendants, Mendoza and Arias, have already gone to trial and were convicted. They were sentenced to the death penalty.
Ramirez, the fourth defendant, accepted a plea bargain before going to trial.
Chiprez has denied gang involvement and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
But on Monday, Glen Carr - the lead investigative officer in the case - testified about a large tattoo on Chiprez's back that includes the Roman numeral 7.
"This case was involving Seventh Street gang and it was the number seven on (the tattoo)," Carr said.
Yoakum is expected to call a gang expert to the stand Tuesday.
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