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Norteño hitman gets over 17 years in prison for hunting and shooting at gang rivals

By David Amoruso

“There is no hunting like the hunting of men,” wrote Ernest Hemingway. 29-year-old Norteño gangster Julian Ruiz can relate. He was sentenced to over 17 years behind bars on Wednesday for his role in a racketeering conspiracy in which he admitted hunting and shooting rival gang members.

Ruiz was a member of the Norteño street gang clique known as “East Las Casitas,” or “ELC,” since at least 2006. Along with other Norteño cliques in Salinas, the ELC committed acts of violence for the benefit of the gang including murder, attempted murder, and robbery. Its members sought to attack and kill members of rival Sureño gangs, as well as members of other rival gangs.

These hunting trips were guaranteed to get violent. Ruiz frequently went along for the ride, hoping for a taste of blood. On September 15, 2009, he was in a car hunting for Sureños to shoot when he spotted a suspected Sureño on a bicycle in front of an apartment complex. He used a handgun to fire multiple shots at the suspected Sureño who fled on foot. 

A few weeks later, on October 3, 2009, Ruiz participated in the attempted murder of a rival gang member from the Fremont gang.  After learning that an ELC hang out was shot into, and suspecting the shooting was done by Fremont gang members, Ruiz agreed to shoot at and attempted to kill additional Fremont gang members.

He went to the home of a Fremont gang member, kicked the front door open, and opened fire at two Fremont gang members inside. His bullets hit one victim in the stomach and shoulder and the other victim in the left arm. 

The bloody shootings led to an FBI crackdown on Norteño gangs in Monterey County, which resulted in the investigation into the criminal activities of the ELC. Ruiz was arrested in late 2015 along with eight other gang members (photo above) and pleaded guilty in December of 2017.

“This sentencing is a testament to our dedication to get members of violent gangs and criminal organizations off the street and out of our communities,” said John F. Bennett, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's San Francisco Division. “Those who facilitate violent acts by racketeering and other means cannot and will not be tolerated.”

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