Little pink gun lands Wash. gang leader in prison

TACOMA, Wash. - Say "hello" to his little friend.

The hot pink .22 cal. rifle is hardly the stuff of "Scarface." But it's enough of a gun to land Carlos Carmona-Gonzalez in federal prison.

A convicted felon and reputed gang leader known as "Downer," Carmona was caught with the single-shot Keystone Sporting Arms last June after offering to sell guns to a police informant.

Federal prosecutors say the 23-year-old man has been enmeshed in Southwest Washington gang violence for the past seven years. In a contention he denies, prosecutors describe him as a leader in a gang set operating in Vancouver.

Carmona "has a penchant for guns and is a gang leader," Assistant U.S. Attorney Roscoe Jones Jr. said in court papers. "Nothing in his history shows that he is capable of remaining in the community without committing crimes.

"He is a menace to society."

Convicted following a jury trial, Carmona is slated to be sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton at the Tacoma federal courthouse. Prosecutors argue he is due a seven-year prison term, while Carmona requests a four-year term.

Carmona has been convicted of felony offenses nine times, including twice of assault. On one occasion, Carmona attacked a man with a club; in another, he threatened a man with a handgun.

Prosecutors describe Carmona as a leader in the South Side Locos 13 street gang set operating in Vancouver. The set is a small part of the Surenos gang family, a loose affiliation of street gangs born out of Southern California.

Gang investigators say Carmona and another South Side Locos 13 member had a falling out. More than a year later, the other man was shot in the spine and paralyzed during a drive-by shooting. Carmona has not been charged in that shooting, though gang investigators contend he ordered it.

Investigators contend Carmona was supporting himself selling methamphetamine. He was previously convicted in state court of selling ecstasy.

In June 2013, Carmona offered to sell several guns to police informant. Days later, officers watched as Carmona delivered the hot pink rifle to a car outside a Longview home.

Police then stopped the car and seized the gun, which had been reported stolen after it was left unsecured in a garage. Carmona was arrested at the home moments later.

Writing the court, Jones noted Carmona previously posted photos of himself on Facebook brandishing a revolver. Jones also said Carmona has yet to apologize for his actions.

Public defender Michael Filipovic described his client as a young man struggling with the aftereffects of an abusive childhood. The attorney said Carmona, a father of two, is prepared to "leave the gang life."

Filipovic also noted that the "youth" rifle his client was caught with is "hardly the type of weapon we associate with gang violence." The gun has no magazine and must be reloaded manually after each shot.

In a letter to the court, Carmona described being beaten as a child and said the violence in his home prompted him to seek shelter in a gang.

"All they really asked of me was to fight for what they (believe) in," Carmona said in court papers. "I didn't know that at that time I was selling my soul. All I knew was that I was gonna be safe."

Carmona went on to pledge to "be there" for his children and family.

Having declined to enter into a plea agreement, Carmona was convicted in February of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He remains jailed pending Friday's hearing.