Two leaders of ‘Los Palillos’ Mexican gang convicted of murders, kidnappings
CNS | January 16, 2014
SAN DIEGO – Two leaders of a Mexican drug trafficking gang were convicted Thursday of several murders and kidnappings in San Diego County between 2004 to 2007.
Jorge Rojas Lopez, 34, was found guilty of four murders, while Juan Estrada-Gonzalez, also 34, was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder, marking a major milestone in one of the longest trials in San Diego history.
In both cases, jurors found true special circumstance allegations of kidnapping, torture and multiple murders, as well as an allegation that the killings were committed to benefit the defendants’ gang.
The penalty trial phase will follow as soon as five unresolved murder charges against Rojas Lopez are decided. Both defendants face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jury selection in the case began a year ago and closing arguments were delivered in late October.
“This unprecedented carnage and savagery cannot stand,” Deputy District Attorney Mark Amador told the jury at the outset of the trial.
After the Arellano Felix drug organization killed Rojas Lopez’s brother in 2002, he and other members of Los Palillos fled Mexico and set up their drug-running operation in Kansas City and San Diego, Amador said.
Photo credit: Denis Poroy/Associated Press