Authorities Friday announced that a number of defendants have been charged for allegedly assaulting inmates in Los Angeles County jails on the orders of the Mexican Mafia prison gang.
The FBI's San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force in July of 2016 began investigating the series of assaults, according to a joint statement released by the FBI, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
"These assaults were allegedly being directed by facilitators of the Mexican Mafia prison gang from outside of prison walls," the statement said.
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"These facilitators were also allegedly engaging in criminal activity including the possession and sale of stolen vehicles on behalf of the Mexican Mafia."
According to investigators and state prosecutors who filed the case, Mexican Mafia facilitators relayed orders to Mexican Mafia associates, known as "Surenos" -- or "soldiers" -- who were incarcerated within the Los Angeles County Jail system. The soldiers were ordered to assault or murder inmates who were perceived to have violated Mexican Mafia rules.
In one case, prosecutors allege that a person whom the Mexican Mafia believed to be cooperating with law enforcement was stabbed several times in the head and upper torso after a Mexican Mafia associate gave an order for the person to be murdered, according to the joint statement. In another case, a person who owed money to the Mexican Mafia was allegedly ordered to be murdered. As a result, the person was stabbed multiple times in the upper torso by inmates known to be associated with the Mexican Mafia, it said.
In two cases, members of the Task Force were able to monitor phone calls detailing the planned assaults of inmates, and as a result, "Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were able to move the inmates into protective custody before any harm could come to them," according to the statement.
The following defendants charged in the case were taken into custody on Thursday at their places of residence:
- Jose De Jesus Rivera, 33, of Compton; and
- Daniel Bustamante, 29, of Long Beach.
The following defendants charged in the case were already incarcerated: Daniel Ramos, 31; Miguel Garcia, 33; James Piano, 41; Victor Hernandez, 40; Willam Membreno, 30; Eyreick Arballo, 33; Edgardo Moreno, 40; Miguel Arciniega, 20; Sergio Chavez, 20; Jose Salazar, 28; Greg Gonzalez, 30; and Rene Arana, 31.
The FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force was formed in 2008 and is based out of the Pomona Police Department.