Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, Efren Marquez, 21, were arrested on Jan. 24 for committing an alleged hate crime in Compton,CA.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Two Hispanic reputed gang members were expected to be arraigned today on federal hate crime charges for allegedly carrying out a racially motivated attack against four black juveniles as part of a campaign to intimidate black residents and force them out of their Compton neighborhood.
Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, and Efren Marquez, 21, were named in a five-count indictment returned Thursday by a federal grand jury. Both were indicted on a single count of conspiracy to interfere with housing rights and four counts of interfering with housing rights, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to prosecutors, Aguilar and Marquez approached a black 17-year- old who was walking along a Compton street on Dec. 31 and referred to themselves as “NKs,” a racial term referring to someone who kills black people. The teen ran to his girlfriend’s house, where other black juveniles were located, and Aguilar and Marquez allegedly yelled racial epithets at the group and demanded that they get out of the neighborhood. They also allegedly assaulted the 17-year-old boy with a pipe and threatened another juvenile with a gun, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
When the juveniles managed to run into the house, Aguilar and Marquez left the scene but returned a short time later with about 15 other gang members who went to the victims’ homes and yelled racial slurs and warned them to get out of the neighborhood, prosecutors allege. One of the gang members also smashed a window of one of the homes, prosecutors said.
“Hate-fueled crimes have no place in our society,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said. “No one should have to look over their shoulder in fear because of who they area. Incidents like the one described in the federal indictment prove that we must remain vigilant to ensure that the rights of every single American resident are protected at all times.”
Aguilar and Marquez had been in custody on unrelated state charges, but were transferred to federal charges today. There were expected to be arraigned this afternoon in U.S. District Court.
If convicted, they each face up to 10 years in prison on each count, prosecutors said.