Jose Luis Salgado of Santa Ana, who turned 20 Wednesday, is charged with murder, with a special circumstances allegation of murder committed for the benefit of a street gang, robbery, participating in gang activity and being an active participant in a gang carrying a loaded gun in public.
Salgado also faces sentencing enhancement allegations of a gang member’s vicarious use of a gun, discharge of a gun causing death and gang activity.
Pedro Morale Chocoj, 31, of Santa Ana was attacked July 23 about 7:45 p.m. by multiple suspects who wanted to steal his bicycle, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
His body wasn’t found until late the next day, when police responded to a call of a man down on a dirt path next to the Santa Ana Riverbed north of 5th Street, Bertagna said.
Chocoj was residing in Santa Ana with his brother and was sending money back to his wife and kids back in El Salvador, Bertagna said.
Santa Ana detectives tracked down the victim’s bicycle on July 27 in the 900 block of Fair Way, thanks to a tip that also led them to a suspect, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact, Bertagna said.
Jesus Gonzalo Ibarra, 22, of Santa Ana, is also charged with participating in gang activity, receiving stolen property and being an active participant in a gang carrying a loaded gun in public, all felonies, with sentence enhancement allegations for gang activity.
Last Wednesday, police arrested Salgado and two other suspects, including a teenager, Bertagna said. The other suspects’ identities have not been released as detectives are still investigating the case and seeking a fifth suspect, he said.
Anyone with information was asked to call detectives at 714-245-8390. Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at 855-TIP-OCCS.
SANTA ANA — Authorities Wednesday asked for the public’s help in locating the parolee suspected of stealing a pickup truck and using it to intentionally ram three police vehicles outside a motel in Santa Ana.
Gang detectives attempted to contact the suspect in the parking lot of the Pueblo Motel, located at 1501 N. Harbor Blvd., south of Westminster Avenue, about 11 a.m. Monday, when the suspect stepped on the gas and sped toward detectives and civilians, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.
As the suspect, identified as Maximiliano Osorio, 23, fled, he rammed the truck into three police vehicles as he escaped onto Harbor Boulevard, the department said.
The stolen truck was later found in Garden Grove along with over 100 grams of methamphetamine, police said.
Osorio is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds with a medium build, short brown hair and brown eyes. He is on parole for a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
Anyone with information on Osorio’s whereabouts of was asked to call Santa Ana police Detective Thai at 949-407-7878 or by email at email@example.com
Anonymous tips can be called in to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855- 847-6227.
U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas approved a government request Monday to dismiss all charges against 11 remaining defendants, closing the federal racketeering case filed in September 2016 after a state court conviction of the Vagos member who acknowledges he was the shooter was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court.
“Witnesses recanted and their racketeering theory was flawed,” defense attorney Kathleen Bliss said Tuesday of the FBI and federal prosecutors. “Yet they pressed on and gambled with the lives of these men.”
Eight men stood trial in a massive and complicated prosecution that began with jury selection last July. Jurors heard stunning admissions from the key witness in September that he fabricated a story about a kill order leading to the fatal shooting at a casino in Sparks.
In February, the jury returned acquittals on all charges against defendants including Pastor Fausto Palafox, former international president of the Vagos Motorcycle Club, which was founded in San Bernardino in the 1960s; and acknowledged Vagos gunman Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez.
“This case was precipitated on lies,” said Joshua Tomsheck, lawyer for defendant Paul Voll, who was awaiting trial with a second group of defendants. Tomsheck called the result a vindication.
Attorney Chris Rasmussen noted that his client, John Siemer, spent three years in federal custody after pleading not guilty and was never brought to trial. Rasmussen called the dismissal “a momentous ending to a long saga.”
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said his office sought to end the case in the interest of justice.
Defendants could have faced life in prison if convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of conspiring since 2005 to deal drugs and commit violent crimes including killings, robberies, extortion and kidnappings in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.
One defendant, Jeremy Halgat, still faces trial in June on drug and weapon charges that he has been fighting since 2013. Halgat’s attorney, Richard Tanasi, declined Tuesday to comment.
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks could prosecute Gonzalez again, but would face double-jeopardy legal challenges following Gonzalez’s acquittal in federal court. Gonzalez’s attorney, Michael Kennedy, said Tuesday that his client saved lives by stopping two Hells Angels from shooting others.
“Shooting to stop two active shooters is not murder,” Kennedy said, “and the Vagos MC is a motorcycle club and not a RICO enterprise.”
The charges were dropped Monday against Johnny Russell Neddenriep, Bert Wayne Davisson, Mathew Keith Dunlap, Andrew Eloy Lozano, Victor Adam Ramirez, James Walter Henderson, Robert Alan Coleman, Voll, Siemer, Edward Claridan Chelby and John Chrispin Juarez.
When they were indicted in 2017, prosecutors said Neddenriep was from Reno, Davisson from Sparks, Dunlap from Sparks, Lozano from Fontana, Ramirez from Las Vegas, Henderson from Henderson, Nev., Coleman from Las Vegas, Voll from Pasadena, Siemer from Baldwin Park, Chelby from Kailua, Hawaii; and Juarez from Moreno Valley.
When indicted, Palafox was identified by the government as a Beaumont resident, Gonzalez was listed as being from San Francisco and Halgat was said to be from North Las Vegas.
Defendants acquitted earlier included Albert Lopez from Canyon Country, Albert Perez from Santa Barbara, James Gillespie from Granada Hills, Bradley Campos from Alhambra; and Cesar Morales and Diego Garcia, both from San Jose.
The Los Angeles Daily News contributed to this story.
Police released a photo Sunday, March 29, of a possibly armed and dangerous man suspected in a fatal shooting at a park in Santa Ana.
Investigators believe Daniel Contreras, 22, of Santa Ana shot the male victim near a baseball field at El Salvador Park, 1825 W. Civic Center Dr., late Wednesday, Santa Ana Police Department officials said in a news release. The person who was wounded was a minor, and died at the scene, Orange County Deputy Coroner Erica Arellano said. His identity was not released to the public.
Authorities asked anyone with information regarding Contreras’s whereabouts to contact SAPD Homicide investigators by calling 714-245-8390. Information can also be left anonymously with OC Crimestoppers by calling 855-847-6227 (855-TIP-OCCS). Those who provide details leading to the suspect’s arrest may be eligible for a reward.
SACRAMENTO — For the fourth time since 2014, the California governor’s office has stepped in to prevent a former Mexican Mafia leader who has renounced his past from seeing the light of day.
In a three-page letter issued April 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom denied parole for Rene “Boxer” Enriquez, 56, overturning a decision by the state’s parole board in December. Enriquez has been granted parole four times since 2014, but each time the governor’s office has blocked his release.
Newsom’s letter notes Enriquez’s cooperation with law enforcement and involvement in rehabilitation programs but says he still considers Enriquez “dangerous.”
“I encourage him to continue down this path of self-development and insight,” Newsom wrote. “However, given his current risk to public safety, I am not prepared to approve his release.”
The family of a woman Enriquez was convicted of killing had asked that he remain in prison and questioned the sincerity of his break from organized crime.
Enriquez’s next chance for freedom will be on June 2020, when he’s to go back before the parole board. At his December hearing, Enriquez told the board “I do not deserve parole” in light of the irrevocable harm he has caused, but also said he has changed his ways.
“I’ve committed crimes that people are still feeling today. I can never undo that, but I can vow to live my life in a correct manner,” Enriquez said. “I made a commitment to never violate another law, to never harm another soul. I understand the hesitancy. … I ask for your mercy.”
In recent years, Enriquez has said he and his siblings were molested as children, including by his older brother, and cited the anger from that as a reason for joining gangs as a child. He was initiated into a neighborhood gang through a beating at the age of 12.
Enriquez, now considered an expert witness on gangs who has helped teach a class at UC Irvine via Skype, also said he had testified in a federal grand jury hearing for a racketeering case as recently as two weeks before the parole hearing but did not go into detail.
Enriquez, of Los Angeles, was an active gang member for nearly 30 years and joined the exclusive, infamous Mexican Mafia gang in the mid 1980s. In 2003, while serving time in Pelican Bay State Prison for two murders, Enriquez dropped out of the gang and shockingly agreed to testify in federal cases against other Mexican Mafia members.
He is now considered a target for assassination by the Mexican Mafia, a relatively small gang based in Los Angeles that is said to wield influence over tens of thousands of gang members across the country.
In 2015, then-Gov. Jerry Brown cited that as his reason for denying Enriquez parole, saying if he were released it would endanger his family and whatever community he ended up being placed in through a federal witness protection program.
Enriquez also gave detailed statements to federal and state authorities, describing the Mexican Mafia — also known as La Eme — as a sophisticated network of violent criminals who planned hits and laundered money in plain sight. In 2009, with Enriquez’s help and cooperation, Los Angeles-based reporter Chris Blatchford wrote a book called “The Black Hand,” which detailed Enriquez’s life and Mexican Mafia business.
Members of the parole board said his remorse was “sincere and genuine,” and read a list of numerous self-help programs Enriquez has undergone as reasons for granting him parole. His post-release plans were kept confidential.
Enriquez is serving a 20 years-to-life sentence for two murders, and has admitted to participating in a gang rape as a young adult and sexually assaulting a fellow inmate years later. He has also been involved in jail stabbings.
He became eligible for parole in 2004, but also got in trouble that year for a drug-related offense, his most recent rule violation. After several canceled hearings, he was denied parole in 2011, then granted it in 2014, 2016, 2017 and last December. In the past his bids for parole have been supported by some law enforcement officials in Orange County because of his work assisting in Mexican Mafia investigations; though other law enforcement officials in Southern California have opposed parole for him.
Enriquez was convicted of murdering Cynthia Gavaldon and David Gallegos in separate attacks; both allegedly were related to Mexican Mafia business. Enriquez says he ordered Galvadon’s death in 1989 because she was involved in drug sales but underselling them and pocketing the difference, which members of her family deny.
Enriquez said at his December parole hearing that Gallegos was a Mexican Mafia member who had fallen into disfavor with the gang for running from a gunfight. Enriquez and a fellow gang member lured Gallegos to a “drug house,” where they “incapacitated him” with an overdose of heroin and cocaine, then took him to a nearby alley and shot him multiple times. Enriquez said another Mexican Mafia member ordered the hit.
Family members of Gavaldon spoke in opposition to his release, her cousin calling Enriquez a “murder and rapist” with an “abundant, lustful appetite for Satan’s ways.” Her uncle said Gavaldon had been killed over $10 and that Enriquez was “lying” about her being involved in drugs.
“We think he speaks with a split tongue,” Gavaldon’s cousin told the parole board. “His genuineness of remorse and repentance is not there.”
The gang officer patrolling in South Los Angeles made a traffic stop just after 9 p.m. in the area of 52nd Street and Long Beach Avenue, pulling over a vehicle with two occupants, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Mehgan Aguilar said.
A foot chase ensued that led to an officer-involved shooting in which one suspect and one officer were wounded, Aguilar said.
The officer was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery, Aguilar said. He was described as stable after surgery.
There was no immediate word on the condition of the suspect.
In response, the LAPD issued a citywide tactical alert, keeping all officers on shift.
“You should expect to see a large police presence in the area of 52nd Street and Long Beach Avenue for several hours,” the LAPD tweeted.
The search was focused on a suspect believed to be armed, Aguilar said.
The search was in a large area bounded by Vernon and Slauson avenues and Compton Avenue and Alameda Street, she said.
Due to the ongoing incident, the LAPD has issued a citywide tactical alert. You should expect to see a large police presence in the area of 52nd Street and Long Beach Avenue for several hours.
At approx 9:10pm Newton Area Gang Officers conducted a vehicle stop in the area of 51st & Long Beach. 2 occupants in the vehicle got out at which point there was foot pursuit. During the foot pursuit there was an Officer-Involved Shooting & 1 of the suspects was struck by gunfire
SANTA ANA — A man was shot to death and another was stabbed and in critical condition in a Santa Ana attack on Monday, authorities said.
The shooting was reported at 10:18 p.m. Monday at Pomona and Sycamore streets, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
Officers found a man with gunshot wounds to his upper torso, Bertagna said. He was taken to a trauma center, where he died.
Officers then found a man stabbed in the upper torso and “other extremities” at Main Street and Warner Avenue, near the first crime scene, Bertagna said. He was taken to a trauma center, where he was in critical condition.
It was believed the second victim fled the original crime scene, he said. No suspect information was available.
Investigators were trying to determine if the crime was gang-related.