A scheduled plea and trial-setting hearing this week for an alleged gang member from Highland Park, who spent more than a dozen years on the run in connection with two racially motivated murders, has been delayed until Feb. 14.
Merced Cambero, 38, was arrested Feb. 3 at the Mexican border and transferred to a federal lockup in downtown Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He is expected to enter a not-guilty plea next week before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who will set a trial date.
In 2004, Cambero and four fellow alleged members of the Avenues gang were charged with conspiracy against rights, interference with federally protected activities, aiding and abetting, and use or discharge of a firearm during crime of violence causing death.
The case marked the first time the federal hate crime statute had been used to combat racial violence by members of a street gang.
During the ensuing three years, Cambero’s co-defendants were convicted and sentenced to life terms in federal prison for their roles in a gang-related conspiracy that led to the murders of two Black men in the mostly Latino neighborhood claimed by the gang, prosecutors said.
Christopher Bowser was shot while waiting at a bus stop in Highland Park on Dec. 11, 2000, and Kenneth Wilson was gunned down while looking for a parking space in Highland Park on April 18, 1999.
Cambero is accused of participating in the murders.