7 indicted for conspiring to harbor man accused of killing Indian American police officer

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The Merced Police Department posted this photo with message on Facebook Dec. 26: Officer Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department (CA) was shot and killed during a traffic stop early this morning. The suspect is currently being sought by authorities. Officer Singh had served since 2011. Please help us honor him so he is not forgotten.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against seven people who conspired to harbor an illegal immigrant who is accused of killing an Indian American police officer in Newman, California.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Erik Razo‑Quiroz, 29, of Merced; Adrian Virgen-Mendoza, 25, of Fairfield; Conrado Virgen‑Mendoza, 34, of Chowchilla; Erasmo Villegas-Suarez, 36, of Buttonwillow; Ana Leydi Cervantes-Sanchez, 31, of Newman; Bernabe Madrigal-Castaneda, 59, of Lamont; and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, of Lamont, were charged with conspiring to harbor and conceal Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who shot and killed Officer Ronil Singh on December 26, 2018 in Newman, California.

In addition, Razo‑Quiroz is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm.

“Law enforcement agencies that are sworn to protect the public can accomplish their mission only when they have the active cooperation and support of the community they serve. Officers who serve our community put their lives on the line every day to protect us, and they deserve that cooperation and support,” U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott stated. “When individuals act to thwart law enforcement’s efforts, they undermine the safety of those officers and the public as a whole. Today’s indictment is a significant step toward holding accountable those who chose to harbor and conceal the man accused of killing a police officer in Newman, California, Corporal Ronil Singh.”

According to court documents, between December 26 and 28, the defendants conspired to harbor and conceal Arriaga, while he was on the run for the alleged murder of Singh.

According to an earlier News India Times report, Singh had pulled over Arriaga at a traffic stop on the morning of December 26, 2018, where he shot Singh, who later died at the hospital.

Since then, the seven defendants have helped conceal and harbor Arriaga, despite knowing that he had killed a police officer.

The defendants transported, hosted and provisioned Arriaga with clothes, money and a new cell phone; concealed the truck that Arriaga was driving when he allegedly killed Corporal Singh and made plans and wired money to smuggle Arriaga out of California and back to Mexico, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Additionally, Razo-Quiroz, who is also a convicted felon, disposed of the gun that Arriaga allegedly used to murder Corporal Singh.

If convicted of the firearms offenses, Razo-Quiroz faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine while the conspiracy charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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