Three Gang Members Plead Guilty to RICO Charges
Admit Roles in the Robbery and Fatal Shooting of LAPD Officer
July 27, 2023
Three members of a Los Angeles street gang have pleaded guilty to violating the federal racketeering statute for their roles in the robbery and fatal shooting last year of Los Angeles Police Officer Fernando Arroyos, the Justice Department announced today.
The following defendants – all members of the South Los Angeles-based Florencia 13 (F13) street gang – each pleaded guilty late Thursday to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act:
Luis Alfredo de la Rosa Rios, 29, a.k.a. "Lil J" and "Lil Malo";
Ernesto Cisneros, 24, a.k.a. "Gonzo" and "Spooky"; and
Jesse Contreras, 35, a.k.a. "Skinny Jack" and "Flaco."
According to three plea agreements filed Thursday afternoon, on the night of January 10, 2022, the defendants were driving in Rios' truck around F13's "territory" in the Florence-Firestone area of South Los Angeles, looking for people to rob. The three defendants decided to rob Officer Arroyos because he was wearing gold chains around his neck. Arroyos was accompanied by his girlfriend, another victim who is identified in court documents as "A.M." Contreras handed Rios a loaded gun. Cisneros already possessed a loaded gun. Rios and Cisneros, both armed, then exited Rios' truck.
Cisneros approached the off-duty officer, patted him down, and then took his chains and wallet, which contained Arroyos' LAPD identification card. Rios approached A.M., patted her down and stole her property.
After robbing Arroyos, Rios and Cisneros opened fire. Arroyos was struck by a single bullet, which killed him.
Rios and Contreras further admitted in their plea agreements to committing armed robberies against two victims outside a bar in the Florence-Firestone area earlier the same day.
"This case starkly illustrates the devastating impact of gangs on our community," said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. "A young man who had achieved great success and returned to serve his community as a Los Angeles Police officer was murdered while shopping for a home in the city he took an oath to protect. These senseless tragedies are repeated too often. Our work in this case sends a message that we will aggressively prosecute violence against our community."
"The defendants admitted to their role in the callous and cowardly murder of an off-duty police officer," said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. "These defendants now face spending the better part of their lives in prison and will no longer be in a position to prey on innocent victims."
"The murder of LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos was a senseless murder," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert G. Luna. "The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is thankful for the interagency collaboration with the LAPD, and other local and federal agencies. LASD's Homicide Bureau is appreciative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice for their efforts in bringing some semblance of justice to Officer Arroyos' loved ones."
The three gang members pleaded guilty Thursday before United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who scheduled sentencing hearings on September 25 for Rios and Contreras, and an October 16 sentencing hearing for Cisneros. As a result of their guilty pleas, each defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Prosecutors have agreed to seek terms of between 35 and 50 years in prison for Rios and Cisneros, and a prison term of 35 years for Contreras.
Haylee Marie Grisham, 20, an F13 associate who was Rios' girlfriend, pleaded guilty on April 5 to one count of violent crime in aid of racketeering for participating in the fatal robbery of Arroyos. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 11, at which time she will face a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the FBI investigated this matter.