Six suspected members or associates of an El Sereno street gang were arrested today on federal weapons and narcotics charges stemming from a nearly yearlong undercover operation in which authorities say they purchased about 11 pounds of methamphetamine and 47 firearms, including ghost guns and so-called “cop killer” handguns.
A Long Beach man who was charged is still being sought by authorities.
A 28-count Los Angeles federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed Friday charges the seven defendants with various offenses, including methamphetamine trafficking, conspiring to illegally deal in firearms, and firearms trafficking.
In conjunction with the arrests, investigators conducted a series of searches that allegedly resulted in the seizure of another eight firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Drug trafficking and the illegal distribution of high-powered weapons brings an unacceptable level of danger to our communities,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.
“The action today is our office’s second significant sweep related to gang activity this week, and it signals that we are taking concrete steps to deal with violent crime across the region,” Estrada added. “We will continue to work with our federal and local partners to address violent crime and allow our community to take back their neighborhoods from violent gangs.”
The lead defendant in the case—Ernesto Echeverria, also known as “Bad Boy” and “Gordo,” 40, of East Los Angeles—was involved in all of the transactions outlined in the indictment, typically by personally participating in the drug and gun deals, but sometimes by linking up buyers with suppliers, federal prosecutors said.
Between June 22, 2022, and May 2, Echeverria and his associates, in nearly two dozen transactions, sold or brokered 47 firearms, according to the indictment.
The weapons included short-barreled rifles, ghost guns with no serial numbers and various handguns, including three FN Five-sevens—nicknamed “cop killers” because the rounds from such firearms are capable of penetrating most types of body armor that police officers wear, authorities said.
Echeverria also allegedly took part in 10 methamphetamine transactions involving up to 2.8 pounds of the drug in each transaction.
In a narcotics sale involving 2.6 pounds of methamphetamine and in eight of the gun transactions outlined in the indictment, Echeverria allegedly was assisted by Oscar “Chato” Barrientos, 40, of East Los Angeles.
The indictment also alleges that Echeverria, Barrientos and three other defendants illegally possessed firearms after being convicted of felony offenses.
In addition to Echeverria and Barrientos, the indictment charges:
- Fernando M. Martinez III, also known as “Lil Sharky” and “Sharky,” 19, of East Los Angeles;
- Michael A. Murillo, 29, of Montebello;
- Adam W. Garcia, also known as “Oso,” 43, of East Los Angeles;
- Arnold R. Salas, also known as “Guerro,” 50, of West Covina; and
- Daniel Carrillo, 30, of Long Beach, who is currently being sought by authorities.
The six defendants arrested Friday are expected to be arraigned in theafternoon in Los Angeles federal court, prosecutors noted.