Arizona Mexican Mafia Members Indicted for Stealing Pandemic Unemployment Money

Arizona A.G. Kris Mayes

Thirty alleged members of the Arizona Mexican Mafia were indicted on Friday for their role in an alleged conspiracy to steal pandemic unemployment money.

The Arizona Attorney General’s office confirmed Friday that a state grand jury “returned a 50-count indictment against members and associates of the Arizona Mexican Mafia,” with a total of 30 individual defendants.

Authorities claim the organized crime members and associates created a criminal conspiracy to steal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance money.

The attorney general’s press release explains authorities claim Arizona Mexican Mafia “members and associates” created a “criminal syndicate” to create Pandemic Unemployment Assistant claims with false information. The money was allegedly used “to promote or further the objectives of the Arizona Mexican Mafia.”

Part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, signed into law at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment assistance program was designed to provide 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who lost their job due to the pandemic.

In the indictment, prosecutors claim various defendants submitted false information to secure unemployment benefits, created or contributed to the activities of the Arizona Mexican Mafia by establishing a gang to oversee the operations, created a racketeering network, laundered the money to hide its origin, then provided some portion of it to incarcerated gang leaders.

They allege defendants participated in the scheme from mid-2021 until the end of 2022.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’ Phoenix Violent Street Gangs Task Force and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s COVID Fraud Unit investigated the alleged criminal conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice who are investigating fraud and abuse of federal COVID-19 relief programs recently requested more time and money from Congress to prosecute more criminals.

They announced a total of 3,500 cases, with more than 400 civil settlements they say reclaimed more than $1.4 billion in fraudulently obtained CARES funds.

Government estimates recently revealed up to $135 billion in taxpayer money was stolen through abuse of the unemployment program.

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Tom Pappert is the lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, and also reports for The Georgia Star News, The Virginia Star, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Tom on X/Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “A.G. Kris Mayes” by A.G. Kris Mayes.



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