Two Alleged Gang Members Arrested in Berkeley Murder

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday October 02, 2007

Homicide detectives have arrested a pair of alleged gang members for the May 6 West Berkeley beating death of Agustine [CQ] James Silva Jr., 19, of Antioch. 

The murder was Berkeley’s first for the year. Three more have followed. 

Two 19-year-old suspects—Juan Carlos Cruz of Oakland and Victor Lozano Ramirez of San Pablo—have been charged with the killing based on DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime. 

Police have identified both the suspects and their alleged victim as members of Los Monkeys Trece, a Northern California subgroup of the Surenos gang. 

The crime reportedly occurred after the three stopped in Berkeley looking for a secluded place to party. 

Both suspects were already in custody at the time of their arrests, and in a prepared statement, Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said Cruz was being held in Alameda County Jail at Santa Rita as the result of an arrest by Oakland police. Ramirez had been arrested by East Bay Regional Park Police for assault with a deadly weapon. 

Neither crime was related to the Berkeley killing, Sgt. Kusmiss reported. 

Police learned of the crime when they were called to the abandoned railroad tracks between Second and Cedar streets at 6:30 a.m. by a man who had discovered the body on his way to work at a nearby business. 

After paramedics were unable to revive the victim, he was declared dead at the scene. Following an autopsy, the Alameda County coroner’s office ruled the death a homicide caused by multiple blunt force trauma injuries. 

According to the police statement, DNA evidence recovered at the murder scene linked the two men to the killing. 

Los Monkeys Trece (the 13 Monkeys) has been identified as a Northern California subgroup of the Surenos. 

Surenos are one of two broad divisions of Hispanic gangs, drawn from the ranks of new immigrants. The Nortenos, their chief rivals, are born in the United States. 

Both are affiliates of prison gangs drawn along similar divisions, with the Mexican Mafia created by immigrants and Nuestra Familia from U.S.-born inmates. 

Surenos (literally, southerners) incorporate “13” or “XIII” in their graffiti, drawn from the letter M’s 13th place in the alphabet. Nortenos (northerners) use 14 and XIV from N’s alphabetical ranking.