At around 2:30 a.m. in March 2017, three uniformed Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officers noticed suspicious activity—including the potent smell of burning marijuana—at a motel known as a regular criminal street gang hangout and investigated.
Unfortunately for Alan Giovanni Batalla, he ran face to face into the cops, became argumentative but eventually followed commands.
Worse for Batalla, who has been a member of the Mexican Mafia-associated F-Troop gang and answered to the moniker “Big Bear,” he was at the time carrying 16 grams of methamphetamine packaged for sale and a well-used glass smoking pipe, according to an FBI task force report.
Even worse, the SAPD officers saw a large bulge in his pants: a loaded handgun.
Noting the defendant’s age at the time of the offenses (around 18), his pre-trial guilty plea, his close relationship with his mother, drug use issues and post-arrest rehabilitation efforts, the U.S. Probation Office recommended a prison term of 84 months, which was the low end sentencing guidelines.
Batalla, who grew up after the age of six without a father, hoped for an incarceration term of no more than 60 months, a stance advocated by federal prosecutors inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
This month, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna, a lifetime appointee to the bench by President George W. Bush, announced a punishment of 81 months in prison. When Batalla emerges, he’ll undergo formal supervised probation for five more years.
The judge also recommended his inclusion in a well-respected 500-hour anti-drug use prison program.
Batalla is currently housed at a medium-security federal prison in Victorville.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.