“Socalj” for Borderland Beat
|A mural in Wilmington, California shows rival Wilmas gangs fighting and coming together for a truce.|
A joint FBI and LAPD gang task force dubbed Operation Wipe Out arrested seven members and associates of Los Angeles Harbor area street gangs, including from the two largest gangs, Westside Wilmas and Eastside Wilmas, on federal charges alleging the trafficking of firearms and pound quantities of narcotics such as fentanyl. The gangs’ activities and deals were being controlled by Mexican Mafia members in state prisons.
Wilmington is claimed by two Latino gangs, Westside and Eastside Wilmas, whose members consider Avalon Boulevard the dividing line between their territories.
In October 2022, an informant used WhatsApp to call Molina, who apparently had access to a cellphone, FBI Special Agent Hannah Monroe wrote in her affidavit. Although it’s illegal for an inmate to possess phones, they are easily purchased after being smuggled in by corrupt staff or dropped inside the walls using drones.
A few minutes after asking Molina for a drug supplier, the informant got a WhatsApp message from someone who introduced himself as “Speedy,” Monroe wrote. Agents identified “Speedy” as Daniel Nunez, an inmate on San Quentin’s death row.
Daniel “Speedy” Nunez
Nunez, 47, was sentenced to die alongside crime partner William Satele for murdering a black couple, Edward Robinson and Renesha Fuller, in what witnesses described as a racially motivated attack that took place in 1998. He has been behind bars since 1999.
The informant gave Nunez the WhatsApp number of an undercover law enforcement officer who was posing as a buyer of drugs and guns. Over the next five months, Nunez sold the officer methamphetamine, fentanyl, and guns, negotiating prices and arranging delivery through associates on the street.
Outside of a Food4Less in Torrance, a Big Lots in Lomita, a taco shop in South Gate, and a doughnut shop in Paramount; drugs, guns, and money changed hands, all arranged by the condemned inmate with a cell phone, according to Monroe.
Molina at one point made a video call to the informant who introduced Nunez to the undercover officer and asked whether Nunez was “able to make it happen for you guys.” The informant said he had, and thanked Molina for putting them in touch. Molina said Nunez was “the homie that makes it happen” and “puts everything out there.”
Gabriel “Sleepy” Huerta
In October 2022, the same informant who contacted Molina sent a message to Gabriel Huerta, a reputed member of both Eastside Wilmas and Mexican Mafia called “Sleepy.” Huerta, 64, has been serving a sentence of 17 years to life since 1984 for shotgunning a man who had underpaid by $4 a woman whom Huerta was pimping in Wilmington, according to transcripts of his parole hearings.
At a hearing in 2017, Huerta said he’d pulled away from gangs two decades earlier and was trying to set an example for younger inmates by participating in self-help groups. “I’ve created new values for myself,” he said.
The informant introduced the undercover officer to Huerta as a drug customer. “What exactly does he want??” Huerta asked. “Black? White? Or what??”
After some discussion of prices for methamphetamine, Huerta told the informant he would “have the homie get at him,” Monroe wrote. Ten minutes later, the informant got a call from someone who introduced himself as “Borracho,” Spanish for drunk.
Bud John Phineas “Ghost”
The full list of federal defendants includes:
- Patricia Amelia Limon, 53, of Lomita
- Jesus Chuy Delgado, 46, of San Pedro
- Jose Francisco Martinez Hernandez, 31, of Paramount
- Lake Davis Pasley, 27, of Lomita
- Osvaldo Nicolini, 45, of Lomita
- Cristobal Aguilar, 29, of the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles
- Guillermo Guerrero, 33, of South Los Angeles
- Bud John Phineas, aka “Ghost,” 42, of Lakewood
Officials are currently searching for three additional suspects who remain outstanding and are considered fugitives. The suspects are Ramon Gonzalez Jr., Fernando Fabio Nava and Iliana Zepeda.
In one deal on November 2, 2022, Limon allegedly supplied 5,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills to a buyer for $5,300. Fifteen days later, Limon allegedly supplied 1.71 kilograms (3.8 pounds) of methamphetamine and 2,000 fentanyl pills to a buyer for $5,000. Limon told the officer to pick up the drugs in a Gardena shopping plaza from a “gringo” called “Chip.” Limon is charged with delivering more drugs and guns in subsequent deals arranged by Nunez. She has yet to enter a plea.