Three gang members plead guilty to racketeering in killing of off-duty LAPD officer

Pallbearers carry the casket of LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos with police officers lined up at each side.
Pallbearers carry the casket of LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills on Feb. 2, 2022.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Three gang members pleaded guilty Thursday to federal racketeering for their roles in the robbery and fatal shooting of off-duty Los Angeles Police Department Officer Fernando Arroyos while he was looking for a new home to buy last year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Arroyos, 27, was with his girlfriend looking at homes to buy in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood in South Los Angeles when three members of the Florencia 13 gang, looking for people to hold up, saw Arroyos’ gold chain and decided to rob him on Jan. 10, 2022. Arroyos had just parked their car, and they were crossing the street toward a home when the deadly confrontation unfolded.

As part of the plea, Jesse Contreras admitted he handed a loaded gun to Luis Alfredo de la Rosa Rios, who along with Ernesto Cisneros, got out of their truck and approached the off-duty officer, patted him down and took his chains and wallet, which contained Arroyos’ LAPD identification card.


Rios then approached the officer’s girlfriend, patted her down and stole her property. Having already robbed the pair, Rios and Cisneros opened fire. Arroyos was struck by a single bullet, which killed him, according to the pleas agreed to by the three men.

Like many in L.A. who are shot in senseless gunfire, Arroyos was of this city, a young man who had a life to live, only to have it snatched away.

Jan. 14, 2022

Rios, 29, a.k.a. “Lil J” and “Lil Malo”; Cisneros, 24, a.k.a. “Gonzo” and “Spooky”; and Contreras, 35, a.k.a. “Skinny Jack” and “Flaco,” agreed late Thursday to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Rios and Contreras also admitted in their plea agreements to committing armed robberies against two victims outside a bar in the unincorporated Florence-Firestone area earlier the same day.

“The murder of LAPD Officer Fernando Arroyos was a senseless murder,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, whose detectives are investigating the killing with the help of the LAPD and other local and federal agencies. Luna added that the “LASD’s Homicide Bureau is appreciative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice for their efforts in bringing some semblance of justice to Officer Arroyos’ loved ones.”

Arroyos, a South L.A. native, went to Crenshaw High School before graduating from UC Berkeley. Colleagues memorialized him as among the LAPD’s best and brightest of hometown cops. Following the killing, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Arroyos yelled for his girlfriend to run and was defending her when he fell and died a hero.

Officer Fernando Arroyos, 27, had been on the force for just three years before his death on Jan. 10.

Feb. 2, 2022

The gang members pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who scheduled sentencing hearings on Sept. 25 for Rios and Contreras, and an Oct. 16 sentencing hearing for Cisneros. They each face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Prosecutors have agreed to seek terms of between 35 and 50 years in prison for Rios and Cisneros, and a prison term of 35 years for Contreras.


“This case starkly illustrates the devastating impact of gangs on our community,” U.S. Atty. Martin Estrada said. “A young man who had achieved great success and returned to serve his community as a Los Angeles police officer was murdered while shopping for a home in the city he took an oath to protect. These senseless tragedies are repeated too often. Our work in this case sends a message that we will aggressively prosecute violence against our community.”

Haylee Marie Grisham, 20, a Florencia 13 associate who was Rios’ girlfriend, pleaded guilty in April to one count of violent crime in aid of racketeering for participating in the fatal robbery of Arroyos. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11. She could get a life sentence.

“The defendants admitted to their role in the callous and cowardly murder of a man — who happened to be an off-duty police officer — who was simply out with his girlfriend when they were randomly targeted for robbery,” Donald Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said in a statement. “These defendants now face spending the better part of their lives in prison and will no longer be in a position to prey on innocent victims.”

A woman pleaded guilty Wednesday for her involvement in the fatal shooting of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer during an attempted robbery last year.

April 6, 2023