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Gang Members found Guilty of Killing Retired Federal Agent’s Son in California; Racketeering Charges also Slapped by Prosecutors

Gang Members found Guilty of Killing Retired Federal Agent’s Son in California; Racketeering Charges also Slapped by Prosecutors

A retired federal agent made an urgent call to 911 from his Gardena home, with the sound of gunfire in the background.

“My son has been shot,” said Lester Campbell, a retired Homeland Security Investigations agent, to the operator. There were sounds of distress and anguish on the line.

Tragically, Campbell’s son, Evan, lost his life in a devastating incident. He was shot multiple times in a horrific act of violence that occurred in front of their home on Nov. 13, 2020. A gun battle ensued and Campbell managed to fatally wound one of his son’s attackers when he returned fire.

During the five-day trial of Justin Arteaga, prosecutors presented the father’s urgent 911 call. Arteaga was described as a member of the gang Gardena-13. According to prosecutors, Evan Campbell lost his life due to his perceived disrespect towards the gang.

According to Assistant U.S. Atty. Kevin Butler, Arteaga had a strong desire to join Gardena-13.

According to Arteaga’s attorney, Humberto Diaz, the incident in question was not a gang-organized murder, but rather described it as a confrontation between Evan Campbell, 29, and George Hernandez, who is reputed to be a gang member.

On Monday, the jury swiftly reached a verdict, finding the 23-year-old Arteaga guilty of a violent crime in aid of racketeering.

The gang, also referred to as Gardena Trece, has an estimated membership of around 300 individuals. According to investigator Manuel Aguirre’s affidavit filed in federal court, they assert control over an area that is bordered by 135th Street to the north, 190th Street to the south, Crenshaw Boulevard to the west, and Gardena’s Main Street to the east.

Gardena-13, similar to other Latino gangs in Southern California, operates under the authority of the Mexican Mafia, a group consisting of approximately 140 individuals selected from the highest echelons of the local criminal underworld.

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According to prosecutors, on the night of the shooting, Evan Campbell and his brother were approached by Antonio Yanez, also known as “Tank”; George “Lil Vampy” Hernandez; and Arteaga, nicknamed “Hitta,” as they had just parked outside their home.

According to prosecutors, the three individuals were spending time on a section of 144th Street that is often visited by members of Gardena-13, who refer to it as “the four block.”

One of the individuals who provided testimony was Yanez, who had come to an agreement with the government regarding his involvement in the shooting.

Yanez, dressed in a tan jail uniform, stated that he failed to identify Campbell’s car when it drove by, prompting the men to pursue it. Shortly after, he expressed regret to Evan Campbell’s brother for his disrespectful approach, clarifying that they had mistaken the brothers for someone else.

At approximately 10:47 p.m., as shown in security camera footage presented in court, an altercation occurred between Evan Campbell and Hernandez. According to authorities, there was an altercation between Hernandez and Evan, with both individuals exchanging swings. Next, Yanez, Hernandez, and Arteaga brandished firearms.

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According to the affidavit cited by the Los Angeles Times, Hernandez and Campbell’s father exchanged gunfire, resulting in Hernandez being struck in the head and chest.

Lester Campbell, who was present in the front row throughout the trial, hurriedly approached his son. Evan Campbell sustained multiple injuries to his chest, stomach, and back. Unfortunately, paramedics declared his passing 20 minutes later. Hernandez was found lying in the street, approximately 50 feet away, with severe injuries.

Jesus Hernandez, the brother of the accused, has also been charged in relation to the shooting incident. Jesus Hernandez admitted his guilt in May 2022 for the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He is currently serving a prison sentence of slightly over nine years.

Arteaga was apprehended just four days following the incident at LAX, while he was getting ready to board a flight to Mexico with no intention of returning.

Prosecutors presented a recording of Arteaga speaking with an undercover informant he believed was a gang member during the trial.

Arteaga is potentially facing a life sentence, and a hearing to determine his sentence has been scheduled for September 20th.

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