Skip to main content
Press Release

Gardena Street Gang Member Found Guilty of Participating in Fatal Shooting of Victim in Front of His Family’s Home

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A member of the Gardena 13 street gang was found guilty today by a jury of participating in the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man who was murdered in front of his family home in November 2020.

Justin Arteaga, 23, a.k.a. “Hitta,” of Gardena, was found guilty of one count of violent crime in aid of racketeering (VICAR) murder. He has been in federal custody since December 2020.

“The victims of gang violence are most often the people living in the very neighborhoods the gangs claim as their own,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “In this case, gang members once again committed a cowardly and senseless murder that ended the promise of a young life. The mandatory life sentence that will result for this defendant sends a clear message that my office is laser focused on holding perpetrators of violence accountable to the fullest account.”

“Gang violence has far too often senselessly transformed our family, friends, and neighbors into victims of crime. Sadly, this case was no different,” said HSI Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “My office has a long history of combatting gang violence, and I am extremely proud of the HSI special agents and our partners from the ATF, Gardena Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office who were determined to seek justice for the family.”

“ATF targets trigger pullers by partnering with prosecutors, and law enforcement partners, to build cases against violent criminals,” said Special Agent in Charge of ATF Los Angeles Field Division Christopher Bombardiere. “ATF used its expertise in this investigation to link the evidence from the homicide firearms to the defendants. We will continue to pull and use all our resources to build cases against killers.”

According to evidence presented during a five-day trial, on November 13, 2020, the victim and his brother were seated in a parked car in front of their home when they were confronted by three men on foot – Arteaga, Antonio Yanez, 26, a.k.a. “Tank,” and George Hernandez, a.k.a. “Lil Vampy” – who were all armed with handguns.  Yanez and George Hernandez were members of the Gardena 13 street gang, and Yanez was an associate of the gang.  Following the victim’s perceived disrespect of Gardena 13 and the three assailants, all three assailants pulled out guns and began shooting the victim. After the victim had been shot, the victim’s father stepped out to help his son at which point a shootout between the victim’s father and the assailants, including Gardena 13 gang member Jesus Hernandez, 31, a.k.a. “Rowdy,” occurred. 

Police and paramedics responded to the scene, where they treated the victim who died at the scene from gunshot wounds. George Hernandez, who was found lying on the street with gunshot wounds to his head and chest, was brought to a hospital, where he later died.

Arteaga was arrested four days later at Los Angeles International Airport as he was preparing to board a one-way flight to Mexico.

“The Gardena Police Department expresses its appreciation to the US Attorney's Office, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the ATF, and all other participating agencies in this thorough investigation and prosecution,” said Gardena Police Chief Michael Saffell. “We deeply value the dedication of our collaborative partners in ensuring justice and providing closure to the victim's family.”

Jesus Hernandez, who participated in the shootout, pleaded guilty in May 2022 to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and is serving a 110-month prison sentence. Yanez pleaded guilty in February 2022 to one count of VICAR, one count of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He is expected to be sentenced in the coming months.

United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. scheduled a September 20 sentencing hearing, at which time Arteaga will face a sentence of life in federal prison.

Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Gardena Police Department investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys, including Kevin J. Butler of the Violent and Organized Crime Section and Varun Behl of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated July 1, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-158