LOS ANGELES – Three members of a Gardena street gang that operates in several states under the control of the Mexican Mafia, have been charged in federal court with violent crime in aid of racketeering for allegedly participating in a shooting that resulted in the death of a 29-year-old man who was gunned down in front of his home.
One of the defendants, Jesus Francisco Hernandez, was taken into custody this morning by special agents with Homeland Security Investigations. Hernandez is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
The three defendants are charged in a criminal complaint alleging they participated in the November 13 murder of the victim, who is identified in court papers as “E.C.” The charged defendants, all residents of Gardena, are:
- Jesus Hernandez, a.k.a. “Rowdy, 27;
- Antonio Yanez, a.k.a. “Tank,” 22, who is currently in state custody; and
- Justin Arteaga, a.k.a. “Hitta,” 20, who also is currently in state custody.
A fourth man who allegedly participated in the attack – G. Hernandez, who is Jesus Hernandez’s older brother and who is described in court papers as a longtime documented gang member – was shot by E.C.’s father during the November 13 incident and later died at a hospital.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, E.C. and his brother were seated in parked car near their driveway when they were confronted by three men on foot – G. Hernandez, Yanez and Arteaga. E.C.’s brother told the men they were not affiliated with a gang and they were simply in front of their longtime home. As the men neared the parked car, E.C. stepped out of the vehicle while his brother texted their father, asking him to bring his gun outside because of the escalating situation.
The affidavit alleges that G. Hernandez swung at E.C., who swung back, and all three assailants pulled out guns and began shooting. The father saw the text message and soon after heard approximately 15-20 gunshots. The father came out to the car and saw G. Hernandez approximately 50 yards down the street. G. Hernandez began shooting at the father, who returned fire and struck G. Hernandez. One of the other gunman also fired at the father after G. Hernandez fell to the ground.
Police and paramedics responded to the scene, where they treated E.C., but he died soon after as a result of the 10 gunshot wounds he suffered. G. Hernandez, who was found lying on the street with gunshot wounds to his head and chest, was brought to a hospital, where he died several days later.
Soon after the shooting, Gardena Police officers arrested J. Hernandez and Yanez in the backyard of a nearby residence. Responding officers also recovered four 9mm handguns, three of which were “ghost guns” with no serial numbers.
Arteaga was arrested on November 17 at Los Angeles International Airport as he was preparing to board a one-way flight to Guadalajara, Mexico. He was wearing the same hat he was seen wearing on security video taken the night of the shooting, according to the affidavit.
Yanez and Arteaga initially were charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which has dismissed those charges in light of the federal racketeering case. Jesus Hernandez was not charged after he was detained by local authorities.
The federal complaint alleges that the murder of E.C. was committed to further the power of the Gardena 13 street gang, which is described in the affidavit as a criminal enterprise that has documented membership in California, Nevada, Texas, Hawaii and Rosarito, Mexico. The Gardena Police Department believes the gang distributes narcotics, primarily methamphetamine, both locally and in Hawaii.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The violent crime in aid of racketeering offense alleged in the complaint carries a statutory maximum sentence of the death penalty or life in federal prison because victim E.C. was murdered.
This matter is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Gardena Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph D. Axelrad of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.