“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.
Both Eastside and Westside Wilmas are based in Wilmington, a Los Angeles neighborhood located near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Harbor area gangs, including the rival Wilmas, commit their crimes under the direction and authority of the Mexican Mafia, a California prison gang that controls many of the Latino street gangs in Southern California, called Sureños. 

Law enforcement believes the Wilmas gangs are controlled by separate Mexican Mafia members who are each serving a life sentence in a California state prison after being convicted of murder. One Mexican Mafia associate directs firearm and drug sales from prison despite being sentenced to death for murder. Leaders have access to illicit cell phones and other digital devices that they use to communicate with gang members on the outside.

Law enforcement seized 23 firearms, 57 kilograms of methamphetamine, approximately 23,000 fentanyl pills, 2.4 kilograms of powdered fentanyl, and one kilogram of cocaine.
Raul Molina

Raul Molina

One Westside Wilmas member, Raul Molina, is said by law enforcement officials to have been inducted into Mexican Mafia around 2004. Molina was not charged in the complaints unsealed Wednesday. But an FBI agent’s affidavit makes clear that authorities believe the 56-year-old, who has been imprisoned since 1995 for second-degree murder, is directing his old gang’s rackets.

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

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

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.

Carlos “Borracho” Guadalupe Reyes

Agents identified “Borracho” as Carlos Guadalupe Reyes, an inmate at Centinela State Prison serving 54 years to life for murdering his estranged wife Veronica in Carson in 2008. After Reyes agreed on a price of 5 pounds of methamphetamine for $6,500, Bud John Phineas delivered the drugs the next day.

Bud John Phineas “Ghost”

Bud John Phineas, who is a high-ranking Eastside Wilmas member called “Ghost,” was charged with delivering five pounds of methamphetamine in a deal orchestrated from prison.

Bud John Phineas has also been a low-budget movie actor in recent years, including roles in movies and shorts such as Thumper, Loans ‘n’ $tuff, and most recently the movie Performer, last year.

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.

The complaint affidavit alleges from October 2022 to February 2023, reputed Wilmas and Mexican Mafia associate Patricia Amelia Limon, 53, of Lomita, fulfilled seven drug and firearm deals under the direction of the Mexican Mafia associate on death row. Limon personally, and at least once through an intermediary, supplied methamphetamine, fentanyl, firearms, and ammunition to a buyer and collected money on behalf of the Mexican Mafia member.

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. 

Lake Davis Pasley, an “associate of a white supremacist gang,” is charged with delivering a bag of pills totaling 225 grams of fentanyl. He has yet to enter a plea.
Cristobal “Stalker” Aguilar delivered guns to an informant at Nunez’s direction, and the LAPD and FBI got a warrant to search Aguilar’s home in South Los Angeles. In a shed behind the house, they found 16.4 kilograms of meth, 2.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 1.7 kilograms of cocaine, a rifle, and two handguns. Aguilar, who has since been imprisoned on unrelated state charges, is charged with distributing a controlled substance and has yet to enter a plea.
Jesus Chuy Delgado, 46, of San Pedro, who reputedly is a high-ranking Westside Wilmas member, engaged in a series of methamphetamine and firearms sales, including several in January and February 2023 that allegedly occurred across the street from a high school and a middle school in San Pedro. Delgado allegedly sold firearms, including semi-automatic weapons lacking a serial number, commonly known as “ghost guns” and 883.9 grams (1.95 pounds) of methamphetamine while on parole.
Molina and Nunez, as well as Huerta and Reyes, were not charged in the case. “They’re already doing life and it’s so much more complicated logistically to prosecute those guys,” Mrozek said. By naming the men in the charging documents, law enforcement was signaling they know of the inmates’ crimes even if they were not being prosecuted, he said.