Mexican Mafia Member and Six Others Arrested by San Diego Violent Crimes Gang Task Force
Seven people, including suspected drug traffickers, a member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang, and several associates, were arrested earlier this week by law enforcement officers and agents from the San Diego Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group (VCTF-GG). The arrests are the culmination of a three month investigation into an alleged drug trafficking conspiracy that included plans to murder three people, the seizure/purchase of 49 firearms, and undercover purchases of multiple pounds of methamphetamine.
The arrests are based upon two federal complaints charging the seven defendants with being part of a drug trafficking conspiracy. According to court documents, some members of the conspiracy allegedly have provided firearms to San Diego gang members
The federal charges in this case, brought forward by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, are the result of a multi-agency investigation conducted by the San Diego VCTF-GG. The investigation has resulted in the arrest of Robert Marin, also known as “Tawa” and “The Barber.” Marin is a documented Mexican Mafia prison gang member and is allegedly the last known Mexican Mafia prison gang member not in custody living in San Diego.
Investigation into this matter was started in September 2014 as part of a spinoff investigation of another investigation addressing the criminal activities of Surenos gang members in San Diego County. During this most recent investigation, VCTF-GG investigators developed evidence that a methamphetamine trafficking organization allegedly led by Ernesto Erding, aka Ernie, was allegedly using the power and authority of Mexican Mafia member Robert Marin to distribute multiple pounds of methamphetamine throughout San Diego County. Erding allegedly used Marin’s authority in furtherance of expanding his control over the methamphetamine market in San Diego. In return, Marin received a portion of the profits, as well as a “tax” defined as extortion payments from alleged drug customers.
Court documents further allege that as part of the drug conspiracy, Erding and others plotted to kidnap and murder a San Diego resident over unpaid drug debts. Erding and others also allegedly solicited the help of the Mexican Mafia to murder one of Erding’s crew members over unpaid drug debts.
The investigation culminated earlier this week with the arrest of seven people and the execution of six federal search warrants. The operation involved SWAT Teams and tactical teams from the FBI, San Diego Police Department, HSI, and the San Diego Sheriff’s Bomb and Arson Unit.
Beginning on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 and ending on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI; San Diego Police Department; San Diego County Sheriff’s Department; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Immigrations Custom Enforcement served six federal search warrants and seven federal arrest warrants.
On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Rodney Corrigan and Karlene Moen were arrested in the vicinity of the 900 block of Kelly Drive, El Cajon, California.
On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, Edilberto Mejorado, Oscar Padilla, Cesar Soto, Ernesto Erding, and Robert Marin were arrested. All those arrested have been booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in downtown San Diego.
On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, five of the defendants, specifically, Edilberto Mejorado, Oscar Padilla, Cesar Soto, Ernesto Erding, and Karlene Moen, had their initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge, Southern District of California, San Diego, California.
The remaining defendants, Robert Marin and Rodney Corrigan are expected to have their initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on Thursday, December 4, 2014.
During the two day operation, VCTG-GG investigators seized 42 firearms and four blasting caps. Of the 42 firearms, 12 were handguns. In addition, to the 42 firearms seized during the search warrants, an additional seven firearms were collected during the investigative phase for a total of 49 firearms. This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, San Diego, California.
Summary of Charges
- Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 841(a)(1) and (2).
- Robert Marin, aka “Tawa” and “The Barber,” age 66, Chula Vista, California;
- Ernesto Erding, aka “Ernie,” age 45, San Diego, California;
- Edilberto Mejorado, aka “Beto,” age 34, San Diego, California;
- Oscar Padilla, age 31, Chula Vista, California;
- Cesar Soto, age 33, San Diego, California;
- Rodney Corrigan, aka “Rod,” age 56, El Cajon, California;
- Karlene Moen, age 36, El Cajon, California;
San Diego Violent Crimes Task Force Gang Group includes law enforcement officers from the following agencies:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California
- San Diego Police Department
- San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
- Bureau of Prisons
- San Diego County Office of Probation
- San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
- Immigration Customs Enforcement-Enforcement and Removal Operations
Assisting Investigative Agency
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Media Points of Contact
- United States Attorney’s Office—Assistant United States Attorney, Todd Robinson, (619) 546—7994
- Federal Bureau of Investigation—Special Agent Darrell Foxworth, (858) 320-8302
A complaint itself is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.