Los Angeles News

Compton gang members plead not guilty to hate crimes

Saturday, February 09, 2013
Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, and Efren Marquez, 21, are shown in booking photos provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. The two were arrested in connection with a series of hate crimes in Compton.

Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, and Efren Marquez, 21, are shown in booking photos provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The two were arrested in connection with a series of hate crimes in Compton. (KABC Photo)

Two reputed gang members pleaded not guilty to hate crimes for allegedly targeting African-Americans in Compton.

Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, and Efren Marquez Jr., 21, were arraigned in federal court on Friday. Prosecutors say they and other gang members chased and hit a black teenager with a glass bottle and beat another with a metal pipe in late December.

The teen attacked in December was one of the sons of an African-American family who had just moved into the neighborhood. Prosecutors say that 15 to 20 gang members gathered outside the victim's house on the same day of the beating, threw a beer bottle through the living room window and yelled racial slurs.

"As the four victims were huddled in the house a window was smashed and they were met with racial slurs and epithets and warnings that they did not belong in this neighborhood," described U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.

That family moved into the home over Christmas vacation and had no gang ties, authorities said. They have since moved out.

Authorities said Aguilar and Marquez belong to a Latino street gang called Compton Varrio 155 that has attacked black residents and scrawled graffiti on homes, businesses and churches, according to the indictment.

The two are each charged with five counts of interfering with housing rights and conspiracy and could face up to 10 years in prison for each count if convicted. They're being held without bond.

Detectives are still seeking the public's help to identify others in the mob that attacked the family's home. If you have any information regarding this case, you're urged to contact Sheriff's Operation Safe Streets Bureau gang investigators at (310) 603-3100 or the Compton Sheriff's Station at (310) 605-6500.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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