Accused ‘Norteño’ con­victed of triple murder

A Petaluma man was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco Wednesday of a gang-related triple murder on a South San Francisco street in 2010.

Victor Flores, 22, was also found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and the attempted murder of three U.S. Homeland Security Department agents who conducted a predawn raid on his family’s house in Petaluma to arrest him in 2012.

The verdict came after a three-month trial of Flores and three other defendants in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston. The defendants were alleged members of the Norteño-affiliated 500 Block/C Street gang in South San Francisco.

Federal prosecutors said the three young men who were fatally shot on the evening of Dec. 22, 2010, were members of a rival Norteño gang, the Cypress Park Locos, which was perceived as threatening the territory of the 500 Block/C Street gang.

Another defendant, Benjamin Campos-Gonzales, 23, of San Mateo, who was alleged to have driven the car carrying the shooters, was acquitted of the three murders, but was convicted of racketeering conspiracy.

The two other defendants in the trial were not charged with the murders. Armando Acosta, 29, of Pacifica, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, being an accessory after the fact to the murders and obstructing justice.

The fourth defendant, Mario Bergren, 25, of South San Francisco, was acquitted of all charges.

The three men who were convicted will be sentenced by Illston on Jan. 16. Flores faces a life sentence for the murders. Prosecutors could have sought a rare federal death sentence for Flores but decided not to.

The four defendants in the trial were the last of 19 alleged gang members and associates who were indicted on racketeering and other charges in 2012. The 15 others pleaded guilty to various charges.

One of them, Joseph Ortiz, 23, of South San Francisco, pleaded guilty last year to the three murders and numerous other charges and was sentenced by Illston to five consecutive life terms plus 60 years in prison. Prosecutors had decided to seek a death penalty for Ortiz but his guilty plea enabled him to avoid that penalty.