California residents sentenced in Mexican Mafia plot to murder Mission man

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Three California residents have been sentenced for their roles in a Mexican Mafia plot to murder a Mission man.

Viola Elizabeth Garcia, 53, Christopher Andrade, 33, and Ronaldo Gallegos, 25, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Tuesday.

Garcia was convicted following a four-day trial in November 2022 while Andrade was convicted in a trial in July 2023. Noah Solis, 25, and Gallegos had previously pleaded guilty. They are all from Oxnard, California, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

A fifth man, Diego Morales, 38, who was incarcerated at the time, also pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme. He was sentenced to five years.

Garcia, Andrade and Gallegos were all sentenced to a decade in prison. Solis will be sentenced at a later date, the news release said.

That document said Morales was serving time in a California prison for attempted murder when he recruited the others to commit murder via a contraband cellphone he had in his possession.

“Andrade was a Colonia Chiques gang member who recruited and conspired with others, including his mother — Garcia — to execute the murder in exchange for $20,000. Evidence showed Mexican Mafia members ordered the murder,” the release stated.

Garcia and co-conspirators attempted to forcibly enter the Mission man’s residence on Aug. 30, 2018, but the murder attempt was unsuccessful.

“At the time, Garcia led responding law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase until she crashed the vehicle,” the release stated.

The jury heard testimony during Andrade’s trial about text messages and phone calls coordinating the murder attempt and that they had also tried to murder the man in July 2018.

Garcia admitted during her trial that she was in Texas at the time and was with the other suspects while in possession of firearms. She also admitted to being present and witnessing gunshots fired during the July 2018 murder attempt.

She claimed she was not aware of the agreement to kill the Mission man and claimed she was in the area to take people to visit family and to look at potential real estate for her daughter who lived in Arizona, according to the release.

As for Andrade, he claimed he wasn’t the user of the phone and was unaware of an agreement to commit murder.

The jury didn’t buy their claims.

Alamdar S. Hamdani, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, thanked law enforcement for putting them behind bars.

“The Mexican Mafia, a deadly criminal enterprise that traffics in fear and terror, imported a mother and son duo — Garcia and Andrade — from California to murder a local man for $20,000,” Hamdani said in the release. “Garcia and Andrade thought the scheme would raise their family fortunes, but thanks to the work of law enforcement, there won’t be any family reunions for years to come.”

Aaron Tap, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office, also thanked all of the law enforcement agencies that partnered in the investigation to end the plot and keep the community safe.