FRESNO, CA – According to reports, a series of conspiracies and murders in Fresno led investigators on a trail of evidence that now has a woman, who benefitted from a settlement regarding a 2017 police shooting where her 16-year-old son was killed, facing gun trafficking charges.
They say Christina Lopez, who recently got part of a $4.9 million settlement from @CityofFresno for her son's death by police, conspired in gang operations, partly by getting gun to a minor.
One of her sons was Isiah Murrietta-Golding.
Prior @abc30 story:https://t.co/gOHWekOaeC pic.twitter.com/avVMj5YIwg
— Corin Hoggard (@corinhoggard) October 8, 2021
Back in 2017, Christina Lopez’s 16-year-old son Isiah Murrietta-Golding was fatally shot by police after he’d hopped a fence in an attempt to run away from police who wanted to question him about a then-ongoing murder investigation where he and his sibling were persons of interest.
The shooting in question was controversial, as video captured the moments when Murrietta-Golding was shot in the back of the head after making it a few steps past the fence he’d jumped over. This shooting eventually resulted in a settlement with the city of Fresno for $4.9 million in April of 2021 that went to Lopez.
And authorities say that Lopez is now facing 22 counts of gun trafficking charges, as she is allegedly handing off firearms to her underage to who then distributes them to various gang members.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp spoke about the investigation into Lopez:
“Clearly, this family has been seasoned in this type of behavior…She has continued now to take the money from her settlement that she received from the city of Fresno to buy a home where she lives in addition to spending thousands of dollars on guns that she has in turn given to her 14-year-old son.”
Lopez’s attorney, Ralph Torres, claims that the allegations are without merit, saying his client can account for all the money she’s received and spent via the settlement.
Torres further claims that Lopez specifically moved out of the Calwa area to ensure her surviving children stay away from trouble and using her son to distribute firearms would be out of her character:
“We have to see what they have and what type of concrete, physical evidence that we can look at so that would connect her.”
The murders of Javier Fernandez in Malaga in July and Adrian Gamboa in Fresno in September sparked a Fresno County sheriff’s investigation that led to Lopez. Wiretaps picked up another murder plot involving Jessie Aguilar, a gang shot caller who is already in prison for a 2014 murder, according to court documents.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says that Aguilar was trying to get teenagers to carry out various murders:
“Especially troublesome, Aguilar was directing teenagers belonging to the gang to commit murders.”
According to investigators, Aguilar instructed Juan Alfredo Venegas who to kill over Gamboa’s murder, and Venegas enlisted the assistance of Lopez’s 14-year-old son in the foiled murder plot. The two suspects allegedly arranged to meet the intended victim at Calwa Park, but sheriff’s detectives were able to prevent the killing and arrested Venegas – who was allegedly in possession of a firearm converted to be fully automatic.
Tony Capozzi, a legal analyst, says that with the litany of evidence collected from wiretaps, it would be difficult for a defense attorney to combat those allegations in a courtroom:
“That’s very substantial, strong evidence as to what they were talking about obviously. But then, did they follow up and do something? Yes, they did. One of them was at the park and found by the police, arrested, and what he said on the phone was found in his car.”
No suspects have been arrested in the September murder of Adrian Gamboa; however, authorities did arrest a man by the name of Richard Aguilar (no relation to convicted murderer Jessie Aguilar) for the July murder of Javier Fernandez.
Lopez is currently in custody over the gun trafficking charges and has her initial court appearance slated for October 12th.
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In other cases involving weapons trafficking linked to gang activity, we at Law Enforcement Today recently shared a report coming out of Portland that led to twin brothers being federally charged for allegedly making illegal straw purchases of firearms.
Here’s that previous report.
Feds say Portland gang members who are twins illegally acquired over 80 firearms, many linked to area shootings
(Originally published October 9th, 2021)
PORTLAND, OR – According to a release from the Department of Justice, twin brothers who are purported gang members in Portland are facing federal changes for allegedly purchasing over 80 firearms illegally.
Twin brothers and self-identified members of a local Bloods sub-set are facing federal charges afer allegedly buying 82 guns in 18 months, many of which have been linked to Portland-area shootings. https://t.co/gl64PPqt7a pic.twitter.com/Fnaci8kiLh
— KOIN News (@KOINNews) October 7, 2021
Following multiple shootings documented by the Gresham Police Department and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, federal authorities launched an investigation in May to determine possible connections. Edward Charles Green and Thomas Edward Green III, 23-year-old twin brothers from Gresham, were allegedly connected to these shooting incidents, according to police.
Court documents note that the brothers claim to be members of the Unthank Park Hustlers, a Portland subset of the Bloods. Federal investigators heard about numerous unlawful firearms transactions allegedly made by the Green brothers around the same time.
According to authorities, the first shooting incident involving the Greens occurred on April 5th, 2020. A pistol was discharged from one apartment into another on SE Alder Street, prompting Portland police to respond. Officers reportedly seized a revolver when responding to the incident.
On April 23rd, Portland Police were called to the Greens’ father’s house on NE Sumner Street after a gunshot went through a front window.
The bullet had been allegedly fired from within the house, but the suspects’ father first told police he had thrown a rock through his own window. However, the suspects’ father later changed his story, claiming a pistol accidentally went off as he was teaching his son how to clean it.
Officers discovered three pistols and an AK-47 in the house, three of which were allegedly purchased illegally by Edward Green.
According to court documents, Portland Police discovered four additional firearms bought unlawfully by Edward Green during a five-day period in late August 2020. Officers responded to a shooting outside the brothers’ residence in Southeast Portland and confiscated one of the weapons.
Two self-identified members of the Unthank Park Hustlers are facing fed charges after the alleged illegal purchase of 82 guns. Thanks to our partners on the Metro Safe Streets Task Force @PortlandPolice @MultCoSO @GreshamPD @ATF_Seattle & @USAO_OR! More: https://t.co/rSQ1E8nAqU pic.twitter.com/sCWrENuCvB
— FBI Portland (@FBIPortland) October 7, 2021
Officers were summoned to a Portland hospital about a walk-in shooting victim and discovered the other three firearms in a car parked outside the hospital. The vehicle in question reportedly showed clear indications of bullet damage, which led to the discovery and occupants being taken into custody.
Reportedly two additional handguns purchased illegally by Edward Green were discovered following a collision caused by gunfire in Fairview on November 11th, 2020. Come January 23rd, 2021, in Multnomah County, another gun reportedly bought by Edward Green was confiscated during a traffic stop.
The Green brothers’ home was also reportedly the target of a drive-by shooting on May 21st, where their home was shot at 14 times and someone inside of the brothers’ home returned fire with approximately 30 shots.
The Metro Safe Streets Task Force allegedly discovered nine empty semi-automatic gun cases, several dozen spent bullets and cartridge casings, 27 firearm and rifle magazines, a range bag with more than 400 spent cartridges, and five receipts for recent gun purchases by the Green brothers while carrying out a search warrant at the house on June 3rd.
Officials say that forensic examination of the spent cartridges connected them to at least ten separate shootings in the Portland region between April 2020 and July 2021.
Two additional firearms reportedly connected to the Green brothers were discovered during two separate traffic stops later in the summer.
A .40 caliber handgun bought by Thomas Green III only days before was discovered when Beaverton Police pulled up a vehicle with no plates on July 23rd. After Portland police pulled up a car with four individuals inside, including one known member of the Hoover Criminal Gang, another.40 caliber pistol reportedly purchased by Edward Green was discovered.
Between April 2020 and August 2021, authorities discovered 12 firearms allegedly purchased unlawfully by the Green brothers.
In total, ATF officials say that the brothers purchased 82 guns from firearm stores in the Portland area during an 18-month period beginning in April 2020, according to state records and information acquired by the agency.
Two Portland Gang Members Face Federal Charges After Illegally Purchasing More Than 80 Firearms: Two self-identified members of the Unthank Park Hustlers, a local Bloods gang set, are facing federal charges after illegally purchasing 82 firearms. https://t.co/1rVLDJWcuX
— FBI Portland (@FBIPortland) October 7, 2021
On September 29th, Thomas Green III was detained at an apartment where police reportedly discovered two semi-automatic weapons, 16 empty gun boxes, and ammunition. He was freed to house confinement after appearing in federal court later that day.
On October 6th, Edward Green was detained at his father’s house in Northeast Portland. On the same day, he appeared in federal court and was ordered held in custody.
Both brothers have been charged with falsifying information in connection with the acquisition of a firearm and making false statements in a federal firearms licensee (FFL) record, according to a criminal complaint.
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