Police say that only eight of the 25 suspects arrested Wednesday were found in Ramona Gardens. Photo: Boyle Heights Beat archives

The Big Hazard gang member accused of organizing a 2014 firebombing attack that targeted black residents of Ramona Gardens was sentenced Monday to 16 years in federal prison.

Carlos “Rider” Hernández, 36, was sentenced almost two years after pleading guilty – in April 2019 –  to five felonies, including conspiracy to violate civil rights and use of fire in the commission of a federal felony. 

Hernández is the sixth defendant sentenced for his role in the 2014 attack – and his sentence is the harshest handed out so far. 

According to a Department of Justice press release, United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder explained that her sentence was intended to “send a message to the community that hate crimes will not be tolerated” and that this was “not a time for any court to tolerate hate crimes.”

Seven Big Hazard members were charged in a 2016, 10-count federal indictment. Asides from planning and carrying on the Mother’s Day firebombing, the men were charged for their roles in a racketeering enterprise that used violence and intimidation to control the perceived Big Hazard territory.

All seven pleaded guilty and admitted that they participated in the firebombing attacks because of the victims’ race and color and with the intent to force them to move away from Ramona Gardens, a federally funded housing complex.

“The defendants in this case perpetrated hate crimes that targeted innocent victims in their homes simply because of their skin color,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison.

In his plea agreement, Hernández said that the order for the racially motivated attack had come from the Mexican Mafia prison gang, known to control most of the Latino gangs in Southern California.

According to City News Service, Hernández’s sentence will run concurrently with a 17-year state term for an unrelated case in Riverside County seven years ago. Hernández has been in federal custody for more than six years, and will likely spend close to 22 years in prison as a result of Monday’s sentence.

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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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