General Crime

Eight alleged gang members indicted on racketeering charges in Santa Rosa

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Eight alleged members of the Varrio South Park gang in Santa Rosa were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 17 racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder, robbery and narcotics trafficking charges, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced Wednesday. Three of the defendants were arrested Tuesday night by law enforcement agencies in Sonoma County, and four defendants were already in state custody. One unidentified defendant is still at large, Haag said. The seven defendants were arraigned Wednesday morning in federal court in San Francisco. The defendants are David Martinez, also known as “Oso”, “Fat Boy” and “Big Homie”; Edmund Deneiliom, also known as “EZ”; Ruben Quiroz; Cesar Castellanos, also known as “Cheese”; Lucio Mendoza, also known as “Juice”; Samuel Tewolde; Kalin Carell and Andrew Hill-Piccola. All face life prison terms except Hill-Piccola, who faces 10 years in prison.

Martinez, Deneiliom, Quiroz, Castellanos, Mendoza, Tewolde and Carell are charged with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering arising from their participation in the VSP gang, according to the indictment. The seven defendants are also charged with using firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. The indictment alleges the VSP gang is a racketeering enterprise whose members and associates commit narcotics trafficking, witness intimidation, robbery and murder. Martinez and Quiroz also are charged with conspiracy to commit a robbery affecting interstate commerce arising from a robbery and high-speed chase on Aug. 19 during which Martinez fired shots at the victim’s vehicle. Tewolde and Castellanos are also charged with separate counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering.

Tewolde allegedly fired shots in the parking lot of a Santa Rosa restaurant on Sept. 5 at someone he believed “snitched” against other VSP members, Haag said. On Oct. 9, 2012, Castellanos allegedly shot and wounded a fellow gang member who he believed challenged his status and authority within the gang, Haag said. Castellanos also is charged with witness tampering for threatening to kill a woman to prevent her ex-boyfriend from testifying against Tewolde. Martinez and Deneiliom also are charged with trafficking methamphetamine and marijuana, and Deneiliom and Hill-Piccola are also charged with being felons in possession of a firearm, according to the indictment. The indictment states the Varrio South Park gang first appeared in Santa Rosa in the 1990s when several members of an existing Norteno gang in Santa Rosa, the South Side Posse, split the South Side Posse because of internal disagreements over the racial composition of the gang. The VSP gang now has 90 active members, according to the indictment.

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