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Press Release

Four imprisoned in Mexican Mafia murder-for-hire plot

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – Several California residents have received significant sentences for their roles in a South Texas murder-for-hire scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before convicting Viola Elizabeth, Garcia, 53, following a four-day trial in November 2022. Christopher Andrade, 33, also proceeded to trial and was convicted in July 2023. Two others - Noah Solis, 25, and Ronaldo Gallegos, 25, had previously pleaded guilty. All four are from Oxnard, California. Diego Morales, 38, was incarcerated at the time, but also pleaded guilty to his role in the crime prior to trial.

Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane has now ordered Garcia, Andrade and Gallegos to each serve 120 months in federal prison, while Morales received a 60-month-term of imprisonment. All sentences will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

Solis will be sentenced at a later date.

“The Mexican Mafia, a deadly criminal enterprise that traffics in fear and terror, imported a mother and son duo - Garcia and Andrade - from California to murder a local man for $20,000,” said Hamdani. “Garcia and Andrade thought the scheme would raise their family’s fortunes, but thanks to the work of law enforcement, there won’t be any family reunions for years to come.”

“These four individuals crossed state lines to carry out senseless acts of violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron Tapp of the FBI's San Antonio Field Office. “We want to thank the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, Mission Police Department, Oxnard Police Department and California Department of Corrections for their continued partnership in keeping our communities safe.”

The jury heard that in 2018, Mexican Mafia gang members arranged for the murder of a male residing in Mission.

Morales was in California State prison serving a sentence for attempted murder when he recruited others to commit the murder via a contraband cell phone in his possession. Andrade was a Colonia Chiques gang member who recruited and conspired with the others, including his mother - Garcia - to execute the murder in exchange for $20,000. Evidence showed Mexican Mafia members ordered the murder.

On Aug. 30, 2018, Garcia and co-conspirators attempted to forcibly enter the victim’s residence near Mission. The murder attempt was unsuccessful. They then tried to flee from the scene. At that time, Garcia led responding law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase until she crashed the vehicle.

At Andrade’s trial, the jury heard testimony regarding text messages and phone calls he had made from his phone coordinating the murder attempt.

The jury also heard that in July 2018, they attempted to murder the same victim.

At her trial, Garcia admitted she traveled to Texas in July and August 2018 with the co-conspirators while they were in possession of firearms. She also admitted to being present and witnessing gunshots fired in the July 2018 murder attempt.

However, she attempted to convince the jury she was unaware of any agreement or attempt to commit murder. She claimed the purpose of the trip was to transport the individuals to visit family members and to look at potential real estate for her daughter who resided in Arizona.

Andrade said he was not in fact the user of the phone and was unaware of any agreement or attempt to commit murder.

The jury did not believe either claims and found both guilty as charged. 

All have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and police departments in Mission and Oxnard, California. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto Lopez Jr., Cahal P. McColgan and Sarina S. DiPiazza prosecuted the case. 

Updated May 14, 2024

Violent Crime