14 Men Charged in Mexican Mafia-Directed Attacks on L.A. County Jail Inmates: FBI

Fourteen defendants, all but two of them already behind bars, have been charged in a scheme allegedly directed by the Mexican Mafia to assault Los Angeles County jail inmates.

Showing a “Black Hand” tattoo of the Mexican Mafia, a former member of the group is shown in 2015 at the state prison. (Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Arrests in connection with the multi-agency investigation, announced Friday in a joint news release sent out by the FBI’s Los Angeles office, were made Thursday.

Mexican Mafia “facilitators” relayed orders to “Sureños” or “soldiers,” men already in the county jail system, to assault or kill other inmates that were “perceived to have violated Mexican Mafia rules,” according to a news release.

The investigation started in July 2016 when federal investigators began looking into a series of violent attacks at county jails that they believed were being directed from outside the jails.

One case involved an inmate who the Mexican Mafia believed was cooperating with law enforcement. The inmate was stabbed in the head and upper torso after a Mexican Mafia associate gave an order for him to be killed, the release stated. Another inmate who owed money to the notorious criminal organization was stabbed in the upper torso multiple times by gang members.

Members of the FBI’s Pomona-based San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force monitored phone calls in which plans for assaulting inmates were discussed. Those inmates were moved into protective custody by sheriff’s deputies.

Two suspects were arrested at their homes – Jose De Jesus Rivera, 33, of Compton, and Daniel Bustamante, 29, of Long Beach.

The remaining 12 were already incarcerated: Daniel Ramos, 31; Miguel Garcia, 33; James Piano, 41; Victor Hernandez, 40; Willam Membreno, 30; Eyreick Arballo, 33; Edgardo Moreno, 40; Miguel Arciniega, 20; Sergio Chavez, 20; Jose Salazar, 28; Greg Gonzalez, 30; and Rene Arana, 31.

The release said state prosecutors have filed charges against the defendants.