2015 Staffing
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The District Attorney’s Gangs Division prosecutes the most serious gang crimes committed in the county. This division is a vertical prosecution unit, which combines Deputy District Attorneys with District Attorney Investigators to handle the unique and dangerous issues that arise in gang prosecutions. Led by Division Chief Dana Greisen and Assistant Chief Frank Jackson, the division’s staff is some of the finest in the nation.

Gun-BulletsLast year, the Gangs Division continued its proactive role with local, state, and federal law enforcement. Prosecutors and investigators participated on numerous task forces targeting gang members and the crimes they commit.

The Gangs Division continues to participate in targeted operations, which have been highly successful in addressing gang crime in San Diego. This zero-tolerance approach disrupted some of San Diego’s most violent gangs and resulted in convictions for charges including robbery, carjackings, drug sales, witness intimidation, armed assaults, drive-by shootings, and murder. As a result, gang homicide rates in San Diego are below the average of the last two decades and remain well below historic levels below that of most major metropolitan cities.

Another area of gang suppression is the Border Crimes Task Force, which was founded in 2009 through a federal grant. Two investigators are assigned to the task force. Along with federal and state law enforcement, the task force combats violent crime including murders, kidnappings, robberies and narcotic trafficking associated with major Mexican drug cartels. This task force coordinates efforts of law enforcement and prosecution to effectively combat the growing threat of serious and violent crime occurring in San Diego as a result of drug cartel influence in Mexico.

While there are hundreds of success stories in this division, the ongoing seriousness of gang violence in San Diego is reflected by the kinds of cases and defendants prosecuted in 2015.

Major cases included:

People v. Justin Anderson
On April 27, 2013, the San Diego Regional Violent Crimes Task Force conducted a wiretap investigation on the defendant, known as J-Hawg, a member of the Lincoln Park gang. Cell tower and wiretap calls established that J-Hawg and his brother, fellow gang member Desmond Crisp, drove past a house where they spotted rival gang members. J-Hawg reported on a call that he spotted ‘rippers,’ AKA a Crips, ‘deep’ at ‘that one spot.’ After spotting the perceived rivals, the defendant made several calls to additional LPK gang members for their assistance in locating guns. He located one firearm but could not find a second before law enforcement saturated Logan Avenue and Defendant was prevented from leaving the house.

Although they were thwarted on April 27, J-Hawg and his fellow Lincoln Park gang members did not stop their terrorist-like mission to kill rivals. From May until September 2013, eight shootings of Lincoln Park rivals were attributed to J-Hawg and other fellow gang members based on ballistics, cell tower evidence, surveillance video and other circumstantial evidence.

As a result, Anderson, Crisp, as well as 13 other Lincoln Park gang members were charged with numerous crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and the criminal street gang conspiracy. Many of the defendants pleaded guilty before trial, with both federal and state prison sentences ranging from five to 21 years. Defendant Anderson was tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison.

People v. Angel Burquez, Arnold Celaya & Antriel Matthews
Richy Carrillo had just turned 14 years old. He was an 8th grade student at Millenial Tech. On March 24, 2012, at 8:00 p.m., Richy waited for his mother to pick him up so he could visit his grandmother. Richy stood next to two of his friends. One of his friends wore a Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap to signify membership in a small tagging crew that Richy was not part of. The area where Richy was standing was full of small children playing on a Saturday night. As he waited for his mother, a tinted SUV drove 20 feet past Richy and his two friends. Two armed and disguised gunmen got out of the SUV and fired two handguns nine times at Richy and his two friends. One of the two shooters shot Richy once in the back as he ran away. The bullet ripped through Richy’s lung and tore into his heart killing him. None of the suspects could be identified and no forensic evidence was left behind.

A team was assembled which included SDPD Homicide Team 4 and the District Attorney’s Office. The team went to work on the violent City Heights gang, leaving no stone unturned despite the fact that the case went cold for large stretches of time. After a three year investigation full of innovation and complexity, the team went from zero suspects to murder arrests for all men responsible for Richy’s senseless murder. The jury convicted the two shooters (Antriel Matthews and Angel Burquez) and the driver (Arnold Celaya) of first degree special circumstances gang murder with all gun allegations. The three men were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Plus an additional 25 years.

People v. Humberto Galvez & Juan Gomez
On April 29, 2012, Jordan Hickey was shot three times at close range with a shotgun. The case went cold for a year until an operation with the Sheriff’s Department, East County Regional Gang Task Force, and the DA’s Office resulted in several incriminating audio and video recorded admissions from Juan Gomez, the driver, and Humberto Galvez, the shooter. Upon their arrest, both confessed to the killing. There was no motive, other than to shoot someone for what amounts to the thrill of killing. Gomez was convicted at trial of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of shooting from a vehicle. Galvez pled guilty to first-degree murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait. Both men were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

People v. Joseph Hill
Joseph Hill shot and killed Sean O’Toole in his home in Linda Vista in December 2013. Three hours later, Hill went to the Biltmore Motel in La Jolla and shot fellow skinhead gang member, Travis Bondurant. Cooperation in this case was limited due to fear of Joseph Hill. On top of fear, many of the witnesses had sordid lifestyles. Despite this challenge, the case was solved through the excellent investigation of the San Diego Police Department. Hill was sentenced to 247 years in prison.

People v. Salvador Chavez & Daniel Gonzalez
A group of World Cup watchers fought at a local restaurant ending with one victim shot and killed and another stabbed. The defendants fled the scene with one going to Mexico. The defendants were ultimately found guilty at jury trial on all counts. Defendant Gonzalez was sentenced to 47 years-to-life and defendant Chavez was sentenced to 17 years-to-life.

People v. Jose Valdez
Jose “Tadow” Valdez from the NVS criminal street gang committed murders in Chula Vista (2002), National City (2003), and Alpine (2005). Each case quickly went cold due to uncooperative witnesses, the lack of witnesses, lack physical evidence, or all three. But, investigators never gave up. In the years following the murders, law enforcement conducted multiple complex operations. As a result, Valdez was arrested in September of 2013. Following a four week trial, he was convicted of the Chula Vista and Alpine murders and found true on the gun, gang, and special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

People v. David Tua & Roland Seau
Roland Seau and David Tua are violent members of the Deep Valley Blood (DVB) gang. The victim, Randy Lozano, a rival gang member, was confronted by Seau, Tua and two others in DVB territory. During the confrontation, Roland Seau stabbed the victim multiple times in the shoulders hand and wrist. Seau yelled out gang challenges while assaulting Lozano with a knife. The victim ran away and sought assistance at a neighboring house. He was transported to a hospital and has been through two surgeries in an attempt to restore use of his hand. Louiegie Bermas, who was teased and punched just prior to the assault on Lozano, saw the Lozano assault. Immediately after the assault, the defendants corralled Louiegie Bermas into Roland Seau’s backyard. Seau beat Louiegie Bermas to death, in the process stabbing him once in the femoral artery. Both defendants were found guilty on all counts and allegations following a jury trial. They are both facing life in prison.

People v. Ramon Hurtado Jr.
The defendant was involved in three separate gang related assaults in 2014. In June, the defendant shot at a rival striking him multiple times in the chest. In July, the defendant stabbed a rival in a gang related assault. Finally, in August, the defendant and other gang members ambushed and stabbed the victim outside of a supermarket. A jury found the defendant guilty following trial. He is facing over 100 years-to-life in prison.

People v. Rosman Ortega
On June 6, 2007 Isabel Enriquez drove with her brother, Jesus, to get Chinese food in Lemon Grove. Jesus was a Diego Aztek (DA) gang member named “Lil Wacko.” Isabel stopped at an intersection and a trailing car with about four to five people in it pulled in front of her. A suspect with a dark bandana covering his face stepped out of the trailing car and walked up to the front passenger side and fired six rounds at point blank range into Jesus and one into Isabel’s leg and hand. Isabel drove away to get help. Jesus looked at her and said, “They got me good,” before dying. Isabel survived. Shortly after the murder, defendant Ortega’s wife contacted police and told them about Ortega’s involvement in killing Lil Wacko and shooting a girl who was driving. Ortega told her specific details that only the shooter would have known, and these details were never made a matter of public record. Ortega was convicted at trial on all counts and allegations and sentenced to 87 years-to-life.