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Local News

Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Returns Indictments Against Gang Suspects

Santa Barbara County's Grand Jury announced this week that they've returned a host of criminal indictments against people suspected of multiple crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

The jury returned indictments on Monday against Benjamin Ybarra Jr. and Edgar Cordova for conspiracy to commit murder related to ongoing criminal street gang activity on Aug. 14, 2013. 

The jury also returned indictments against Ybarra, Cordova, Jesse Martin Enriquez, Ulisses Ramon Guzman, Arturo Renteria Jr., Ruben Jose Regalado, and an unidentified person for whom the court issued an arrest warrant, alleging five counts of extortion and a conspiracy to commit extortion.

There is an outstanding warrant for the seventh indicted defendant. 

Cordova and Regalado were also indicted for conspiracy to sell or transport methamphetamine, and all seven defendants are alleged to have committed the crimes for the benefit of, in association with or at the direction of, a criminal street gang.

All seven defendants were arraigned on Wednesday in Santa Maria Superior Court.

Cordova was the most recent arrest, and he was taken into custody in October at a San Diego border crossing, according to Santa Barbara Police Department Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Harwood said Cordova along with Ybarra, Enriquez and Regalado are all suspected of extorting money on behalf of the Mexican Mafia prison gang.

Noozhawk reported earlier that the arrests were the culmination of a 16-month investigation that began with the June 6, 2013, arrest of Raymond Macias for kidnapping, torture and solicitation of torture.

Macias, a member of the Santa Barbara-based Eastside Krazies, which authorities have said is linked to the Mexican Mafia, faces a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole after being convicted of numerous charges.

Ybarra, Cordova, Enriquez, Regalado, and Franco Aguiniga had previously been charged in a criminal case, but the indictment will take the place of the previously filed case, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.

On Oct. 21, Aguiniga pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion and admitted the gang allegation and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 5 to seven years, eight months in state prison. 

The suspects are from different cities — Renteria and Guzman are from Santa Maria, the outstanding suspect and Aguiniga are from Lompoc, and Ybarra, Cordova, Enriquez and Regalado are from Santa Barbara. 

Ybarra, Cordova, Enriquez, Guzman and Regalado are all in County Jail, and Renteria is currently serving a sentence in state prison.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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