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Home / federal indictments

Raids, indictments target gang allegedly tied to El Monte officers’ deaths

Federal and local law enforcement agencies carried out a series of raids Wednesday targeting a San Gabriel Valley gang as part of an investigation that began when a member of the gang killed a pair of El Monte police officers in 2022.

Officers Joseph Santana and Michael Paredes responded to a report of a stabbing on June 14, 2022, at the Siesta Inn, where Justin Flores was found holed up with his wife. The officers rescued the woman but were subsequently shot to death by Flores, who later fatally shot himself in the head.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 10 members and associates of the gang were named in a series of federal indictments stemming from the probe that began with the officers’ deaths. Among the crimes alleged in the indictment are the killing of a woman who was fatally shot when a member of the gang was trying to kill a person providing information to law enforcement.

Authorities said two of the 10 named defendants were arrested Wednesday morning, while four others were already in custody in unrelated cases. Four other defendants remain at large. Several other people arrested during the morning raids on separate local charges, officials said.

“Today, the El Monte Police Department, the FBI and all of our partner agencies told every American we will never stop in the pursuit of justice when the most heinous of crimes are committed that harm our communities,” El Monte Police Chief Jake Fisher said in a statement.

Also involved in the morning raids were the sheriff’s department, FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The main indictment announced Wednesday alleges two violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization, or RICO, Act. The various indictments also include firearms and narcotics charges against members of the gang, which prosecutors contend is tied to the Mexican Mafia.

The indictments also allege attempted murder of a rival gang member, the death of the woman killed during an effort to kill an informant and the operation of a “casita” that was home to illegal gambling and narcotics operations.

The lead defendant in the case was identified as Chase “Sicko” Carrillo, 34, an alleged gang “shot-caller” who was allegedly involved in the January 2022 shooting of a rival gang member who was severely injured but survived. Carrillo and another gang member later allegedly tried to kill a man identified only as “J.P.,” who acted as a getaway driver in the January 2022 shooting but was believed to have provided information to law enforcement.

According to federal authorities, Carrillo opened fire on a vehicle in which “J.P.” was riding on March 5, 2022, but instead of hitting “J.P.,” he fatally shot the female driver of the vehicle.

Prosecutors said Carrillo could face life in prison or even a death sentence if convicted as charged.

“A highly violent gang responsible for the murders of two brave police officers and others has now felt the weight of a collective law enforcement response,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “The gang’s days of terrorizing the community stop with today’s federal arrests. The indictments we announce today should assure the community that we are here to protect you, and we will use our full resources to fight violent crime and thereby ensure that everyone in Southern California, no matter where they live, has a safe place to live and raise their families.”

The 2022 killings of El Monte Officers Santana and Paredes has sparked lawsuits filed by the officers’ families against the county, alleging mishandling of an earlier criminal case involving Flores that should have resulted him being behind bars.

According to the lawsuits, Flores, 35, was placed on probation in a plea deal in 2021 after he was arrested in 2020 for being a felon in possession of a firearm and methamphetamine. Even though Flores had a prior felony conviction for burglary, District Attorney George Gascón issued a directive barring the prosecutor handling Flores’ case from filing a strike allegation against him, the suit states.

In doing so, Gascón disregarded California’s “three strikes” law, which requires prosecutors to plead prior known strikes, the suit states.

If Gascón had followed the law, Flores would have been sentenced to prison, according to the plaintiffs. After being put on probation in March 2021, Flores was only seen by his probation officer once — although he was supposed to have monthly check-ins — and Probation Department members never initiated a desertion proceeding as their own policies required, which would have forced a probation revocation, the suit states.

On June 2, 2022, the probation officer completed a phone check-in with Flores after learning he was in illegal possession of a gun and had beaten a woman, but Flores did not show up for an appointment four days later and his probation officer never reported the information to law enforcement, the suit states.

The probation officer filed for a revocation of Flores’ probation a day before the shootings, but Flores was not taken into custody, the suit states.

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