Alleged Sureños also charged with attempting to murder 5 additional victims
SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted Jonathan Escobar (aka Wicked, aka Rico) and Jose Aguilar (aka Slim), charging both defendants with firearms violations in connection with crimes including murder and attempted murder committed to enhance the defendants’ position in the Sureño criminal street gang, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. (See indictment document)
“Street gangs resort to violence to assert control over peaceful neighborhoods, expecting to create safe havens for drug trafficking, robberies, and other violent crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Hinds. “In this case, the indictment describes how firearms are deliberately used to achieve these goals through murder and attempted murder. This office will continue to partner with local and federal law enforcement agencies to wrest control of our streets from the gangs who threaten our residents.”
“Our communities have the right to be safe and not succumb to senseless violence. I am proud of the dedicated agents who have duly executed their duties in our collective pursuit of law, order and justice,” said Special Agent in Charge King, who oversees HSI operations in Northern California. “Gang violence will not be tolerated, and law enforcement’s collaborative efforts are key to disrupting the lawless activities that threaten public safety.”
The indictment, filed April 15, 2021 and unsealed this morning, alleges that Escobar, 24, of Richmond, Calif., and Aguilar, 32, of San Francisco, were members of a racketeering enterprise referred to in the indictment as “the 19th Street/16th Street Sureños.” The street gang was the amalgamation of two gangs, one that claimed “territory” bounded by 19th Street to the South, 16th Street to the North, Folsom Street to the East, and Dolores Street to the West and the other that generally operated around 16th Street and Mission Street, in the Mission District of San Francisco. The enterprise also operated in Dolores Park and Franklin Square Park (also known as Bryant Park). The indictment describes how the gang sought to maintain control of drug distribution in the areas that it sought to claim and how gang members engaged in numerous illegal acts to meet its aims including narcotics sales, robberies, and other violent crimes, including murder.
According to Count One of the two-count indictment, on August 11, 2018, in San Francisco, Escobar and Aguilar used a firearm during the commission of a murder in aid of racketeering and committed the murder for the purpose of maintaining and increasing their position in the criminal enterprise. The indictment also alleges that the murder was premeditated, deliberate, and willful, and therefore “murder in the first degree” under California law.
In addition to the murder allegations, the indictment alleges in Count Two that Escobar and Aguilar used a firearm during the commission of attempted murder in aid of racketeering. In this count of the indictment, the document alleges that the defendants willfully and with deliberation and premeditation attempted to murder five additional victims, again for the purpose of maintaining and increasing position in the 19th Street/16th Street Sureños.
Both defendants are charged with use or carrying of a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a crime of violence (murder in aid of racketeering), in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2 and use or carrying of a firearm during and in relation to of a crime of violence (attempted murder in aid of racketeering), in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2. If convicted of the murder count, both defendants are eligible for the death penalty. If convicted of the attempted murder count, both defendants can be sentenced to a maximum prison term of life and a minimum term of not less than ten years. In addition to a prison term, the court may also order a term of supervised release, restitution, and fines; however, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The defendants were arrested on April 20, 2021 and made their initial federal court appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline S. Corley. Magistrate Judge Corley ordered the defendants to remain in custody pending trial. The next federal court appearance for the defendants is scheduled for May 12, 2021, before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixon for appointment of counsel.
The case is being prosecuted by the Organized Crime Strike Force of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the San Francisco Police Department’s Gang Task Force and Homicide Unit.