Suspected Everett gang member facing federal weapons charges

EVERETT — A suspected gang member once arrested in connection with a fatal shooting now is facing federal weapons charges after Everett police allegedly seized a handgun from the man’s bed during an assault investigation.

Authorities say Matalepuna “June Bug” Malu is part of the Waco Boys, a street gang whose members are believed to be responsible for numerous crimes in Snohomish County, including homicide, robbery and drug trafficking.

Malu, 23, has been caught up in several investigations but escaped prosecution until January. That’s when Everett police officers were called to investigate a domestic violence assault at the house he shared with his girlfriend and their child.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Valerie Bouffiou charged Malu in February with multiple crimes in connection with the incident, including unlawful gun possession and domestic violence assault.

Those charges recently were dismissed after Malu was indicted on two federal gun charges based on evidence seized during the assault investigation. Malu pleaded not guilty late last month.

Malu is accused of attacking his girlfriend during an early morning dispute. She reported that she was forced to jump out a two-story window to escape the beating.

Officers noted that the woman had several injuries, including a black eye and scratches on her neck as if she’d been choked. The woman said she was punched in the mouth, wrestled to the ground and held down. She denied that Malu had choked her and declined to provide any additional details, according to court documents.

Police seized a pound of marijuana, cocaine, other drug paraphernalia, ammunition and body armor. They also located a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun in a bed. The gun had been reported stolen during a burglary in 2009 in Mill Creek.

Malu, a convicted felon, is banned from possessing guns, according to court papers.

The pistol matched the serial number located on an empty gun box that was seized from Malu’s room during a 2010 raid by local and federal drug detectives. The gun wasn’t located at the time. Police also found two magazines for an AK-47 assault-style rifle in Malu’s room along with a small amount of drugs.

Authorities raided the Cedar Avenue house and two others in June 2010 as part of a three-year investigation into the Waco Boys. Members of the gang were accused of peddling large amounts of drugs, including oxycodone, a highly addictive prescription painkiller.

Nine people were arrested during the raids, including Malu. Three people were indicted on federal gun and drug charges. Those men, Jonathan Tavares, Ryan Nicely and Jose Lugo have since pleaded guilty. They’re scheduled to be sentenced next month and face years in federal prison.

Malu wasn’t charged as part of that investigation.

Three months later he was jailed in connection with the Aug. 13 shooting death of a heroin dealer on W. Casino Road. Two men kicked down the door of the apartment and began pistol-whipping Alonzo Lopez-Gonzales. The intruders demanded money and drugs. Lopez-Gonzales was either pushed or jumped from a second-story balcony. As he was running for his life, he was shot once in the back.

Malu and fellow Waco Boy Eric “Icky” Lowe were arrested. Malu was later released and charges against him were dropped.

Lowe remains charged with first-degree murder and is scheduled for trial in July. Another Waco Boy, Jeffrey Cleator, pleaded guilty to robbery and burglary for his part in the incident. Derek Boyd, an associate of the gang, also pleaded guilty to robbery. Both men are expected to testify against Lowe.

Authorities say the organization began while the members were still in their teens. As near as investigators can tell, the group doesn’t get its name from Waco, Texas. It’s just something they’ve been calling themselves since they were kids. Investigators believe the group has operated primarily out of Everett.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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