Two Latino men associated with the Compton 155 street gang pleaded guilty today to federal hate crime charges related to a racially motivated attack on African-American juveniles at a residence in Compton, Calif. on New Year’s Eve.
Jeffrey Aguilar, 20, who uses the moniker “Terco,” and Efren Marquez Jr., 22, who is also known as “Stretch” and “Junior,” each pleaded guilty to violating the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act.
Appearing before United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr., Aguilar admitted that on Dec. 31, 2012, he and another individual physically attacked a 17-year-old African-American, who was walking down a street in the City of Compton. Aguilar chased down and struck the victim in the head with a metal pipe. During the incident, Marquez threatened to shoot another African-American juvenile who was present. Both Aguilar and Marquez admitted that the attack on the 17-year-old victim was substantially motivated by his race and color.
“These juvenile victims were threatened and assaulted because of their race,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Such intimidation and violence has no place in our society. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit such acts of hate.”
“The perpetrators of hate crimes hurt not only the individuals who are attacked, but also society as a whole,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “For this reason, we are dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that justice is brought to those who choose to commit such heinous crimes.”
“Finding justice for victims of civil rights violations is among the most important responsibilities of FBI agents,” said Bill Lewis, Assistant Director for the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “The success of this case is due to the shared goals and long-term cooperation between the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and the FBI, and prosecutors at the Department of Justice.”
“Hate crimes affect not only the victims, they also destroy our society’s democratic principles” said Sheriff Lee Baca of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. “Law enforcement is dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all members of our community. The success of this joint investigation sends a message that racially motivated crimes will not be tolerated.”
Aguilar and Marquez are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hatter on Jan. 6, 2014. At sentencing, each defendant will face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reema El-Amamy of the Violent and Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.