Local and federal law enforcement early Thursday morning arrested six members of a Sureño gang faction that operated primarily in San Francisco’s Mission District. The arrests were in connection with six San Francisco cold-case murders related to gang activity in the neighborhood.

The arrests — which took place in the Mission and the cities of Richmond and Pacifica at around 5 a.m. Thursday — followed an indictment filed by the Office of U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of California of 10 men who allegedly participated in violent acts, including murder, to “defend their territory” and racketeering business.

A seventh defendant was taken to Santa Clara County Jail, while three other defendants are being held in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

The arrests were conducted by the San Francisco, Richmond, and Pacifica police departments in coordination with Homeland Security Investigation agents, or HSI, who operate under the umbrella of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, known as ICE.

Some 200 officers from various agencies assisted in the arrest, HSI Special Agent Ryan L. Spradlin said.  

“Through diligent investigate work and careful coordination, law enforcement agents were able to take several extremely violent individuals off of our streets and into custody this week, safely and without incident,” said San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott. He said “work on the cases took years,” and one of the murders occurred 12 years ago.

Spradlin said the SFPD reached out to HSI eight years ago for assistance on the cases.

Scott noted that none of the arrested Sureño men was living in the country illegally, and that no arrests of undocumented immigrants — so-called “collateral arrests” — were made in the course of the arrests of the suspects. “We are very steadfast in upholding our policies and our city and county laws regarding immigration issues,” he said.

All of the indicted men were members of either the 16th Street or 19th Street Sureño gangs, who operated in various territories along Mission Street, charges the indictment.

In the indictment, defendants Jonathan Aguilar, aka “Trompo,” and Michael Rebolledo, aka “Gallo,” are accused of the March 16, 2006, murder of two rival gang members near 15th and Mission Streets. The two later allegedly participated in a September 29, 2007, drive-by shooting of rival gang members near 24th and York streets, according to the indictment.

On February 27, 2011, Rebolledo and two other members of the 19th Street Sureño gang allegedly shot and paralyzed a member of a rival gang near Alabama and Precita streets.

One of the defendants, Luis Rojas, or “Grizzly,” with two other defendants — Eddy Urbina, aka “Rhino” and Josue Gonzalez, aka “Ghost” — allegedly shot and killed two people believed to be rival gang members near 24th and Utah streets in September 2008.

Most of the defendants allegedly participated in so-called “hunts,” in which the gang members seek out rivals and do them harm. All of the men were involved in the sale of various drugs.

The 19th Street Sureño gang, according to the indictment, operates in the vicinity of 19th and Mission Streets — intuitively — bounded by 19th Street to the south, 16th Street to the north, Folsom Street to the east, and Dolores Street to the west. Their territory also includes Dolores Park and Franklin Square Park on Bryant Street.

The 19th Street gang was founded in the late 1990s, according to the indictment. By contrast, the 16th Street gang “arose” out of the 19th street gang in 2003, and largely operates around 16th and Mission streets. The indictment charges that the gangs operate in cahoots.

Asked why the cases took so long to reach this phase, Scott said they could be “very difficult for a variety of reasons,” but that the investigators did not give up.   

“Things need to come together,” he said.  

The suspects include:

  • Jonathan Aguilar (“Trompo”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, use or possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Luis Cid-Salinas (“Lonely Boy”) was charged with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of use or possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Juan Carlos Gallardo (“Huero”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering;
  • Josue Gonzalez (“Ghost”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, use and possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Orlando Hernandez (“Chisto”) was charged with murder in aid of racketeering and use and possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Michael Rebolledo (“Gallo”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, two counts of use and possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Mario Reyes (“Shy Boy”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering;
  • Luis Rojas (“Grizzly”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and use and possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Eddy Urbina (“Rhino”) was charged with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, use and possession of a firearm causing murder;
  • Weston Venegas (“Cartoon”) was charged with murder in aid of racketeering and use and possession of a firearm causing murder.

Nine of the 10 defendants are believed to have committed, or be involved in, at least one murder. All of the defendants, except Cid-Salinas, Carlos Hernandez and Venegas appeared in court on Friday morning.  

Indictment Filed Under Seal 180320 (002) by MissionLocal on Scribd