Jim Kouri
May 4, 2006
Mexican mafia members arrested for murder conspiracy in L.A.
By Jim Kouri

A California task force investigation into a Pomona area street gang following the murder of a California Highway Patrol Officer two years ago resulted today in conspiracy to commit murder charges filed against four men accused in an alleged Mexican Mafia contract murder.

The targeted victim survived last summer's planned killing, in large part due to intervention by officers involved in the undercover investigation, authorities said.

Charges were filed against Darryl Castrejon, 46; Arthur Garcia, 35; Julio Ponce Felix Jr.; and Ricardo Polanco, 23. Arraignment is scheduled for at least Castrejon and Garcia for Friday in Pomona Superior Court. Both men were arrested on Friday. Felix and Polanco, already in custody on unrelated cases, may be arraigned later in the week.

The case was one of nearly a dozen filed in connection with what started out as an investigation of the 12th Street gang in Pomona following the murder of CHP Officer Thomas Steiner on April 21, 2004. Steiner, 35, was gunned down outside the Pomona courthouse by 16-year-old Valentino Mitchell Arenas, of Fontana and Pomona.

Arenas, a 12th Street gang wannabe, later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and admitted the special circumstances of murder of a police officer, lying in wait and murder during a drive-by shooting. Arenas, now 18, was sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After Steiner's murder, the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT), moved in to investigate the 12th Street gang. The investigation focused on alleged drug-dealing by gang members. The alleged Mexican Mafia contract killing was uncovered as a result of surveillance during the lengthy investigation.

The alleged shooter, Polanco, was arrested in July of last year as he was on his way to kill the victim, according to the overt acts listed in the criminal complaint. He was arrested by Pomona police about five blocks away from the home of the alleged intended victim. The defendant was armed with a .38-caliber handgun at the time he was taken into custody.

Deputy District Attorney Ricardo Ocampo of the Major Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.

The other cases filed against alleged members of the 12th Street gang charge conspiracy and narcotics violations. Those are being prosecuted out of the Pomona Branch office by Deputy District Attorneys Manuel Garcia and Michael Cabral.

The investigation and resulting cases were announced this afternoon at a Pomona news conference by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the CHP, the Pomona Police Department and members of LA IMPACT.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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