SANTA BARBARA – Local detectives received the help of Chicago authorities last week in tracking down the suspected accomplice in a March stabbing of a rival gang member.
The May 24 out-of-state arrest of Juan Carlos Villa, 19, is the result of an investigation coordinated with the U.S. Marshal’s Service fugitive apprehension unit.
Villa is alleged to have accompanied other “Westsider” gang members Robert Aldaz, 18, Richard Soto, 20, Ricardo Pineda, 17, and Juan Maldonado, 17, as they “armed themselves with knives and traveled together into a rival gang’s territory to attack a rival gang member,” said Santa Barbara police spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey.
The 18-year-old victim of the March 30 attack was reportedly knocked to the ground and stabbed repeatedly, leaving him with multiple stab wounds for which he was hospitalized in serious condition.
The following day, Santa Barbara police conducted a routine traffic violation stop of a vehicle matching the description of the suspected assailant vehicle carrying three passengers not far from the crime scene.
All three occupants of the vehicle were detained for questioning, which led to the immediate arrest of Aldaz. Four days later, on April 4, Soto, Pineda and Maldonado were located and arrested. Villa was then identified as an active participant in the assault but was not apprehended and has remained at large until his arrest in Chicago.
Villa was returned to Santa Barbara and booked into county jail on $1 million bail on charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and committing a crime in furtherance of a criminal street gang.