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Name: People v. Ramirez
Case #: G038125
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/31/2009

The trial court did not err by failing to sever the drug and gang counts. Ramirez was convicted of drug offenses and also of active gang participation in violation Penal Code section 186.22, subdivision (a). The jury also found that he committed the drug crimes for the benefit of a criminal street gang. (Sec. 186.22, subd. (b)(1).) On appeal, Ramirez contended that the trial court erred by failing to sever the substantive gang-participation charge and the gang enhancements from the drug charges. The appellate court concluded that the trial court properly denied a severance motion because of the cross-admissibility of the drug and gang evidence: the gang evidence established Ramirez’s motive for possessing and transporting the drugs, and the drug offenses demonstrated his participation in the gang. There was sufficient evidence to support a gang felony and a gang enhancement where the defendant engaged in gang-related drug sales. Ramirez also challenged the sufficiency of evidence to support the gang count and enhancements. The appellate court also rejected that argument and affirmed. The substantive crime of gang participation requires proof of gang-related felonious criminal conduct committed by the defendant. Here, expert testimony showed that the gang controlled the narcotics trafficking by its members, including taxing them and enforcing reprisals for nonpayment. The jury could reasonably infer from the evidence that Ramirez knew of and abided by this policy and committed the drug offenses for the benefit of the gang.