MERCED - On September 5, 2018, a Merced County jury found Norteno criminal street gang members Jose Hernandez and David Zamora, both 23, guilty of two counts of murder for the April 2015 shooting that killed Salvador Medina, 36, and Jose Zamora, 18.
According to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, evidence against both defendants was obtained from a 2015 wiretap operation entitled, "Operation Red Right Hand," which targeted violent Norteno criminal street gang members. The operation was conducted jointly by the Department of Justice and local law enforcement agencies.
“Operation Red Right Hand was a lengthy investigation that involved California Department of Justice special agents and a multitude of local agencies,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It targeted some of the most violent criminals in Merced County and resulted in 75 arrests and the seizure of firearms. It’s a dangerous job for agents and officers who arrive to work each day ready to protect the public.”
On April 6, 2015 the defendants and their younger brothers drove to Winton intending to kill a rival gang member. David Zamora was the driver, Jose Hernandez was the front seat passenger, and in the backseat were David Zamora’s 18-year-old brother, Jose Zamora, and Hernandez’s 13-year-old brother. The two younger brothers were both armed with loaded guns. After arriving in Winton, the two, armed younger brothers got out of the car and confronted Salvador Medina. The two defendants waited down the street as lookouts and a getaway driver. After the confrontation, Medina produced a handgun and a shootout ensued, killing both Medina and Jose Zamora. The defendants fled the scene with their younger brothers.
According to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, David Zamora was captured heavily on the wiretap as he made numerous phone calls following the murder attempting to destroy evidence with the assistance of fellow gang members.
Medina did not have any known ties to criminal street gangs.
The defendants will be sentenced October 24 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 6. Both men face life without the possibility of parole.
“Operation Red Right Hand,” was a five-month investigation that concluded with dozens of Norteno gang members arrested, as well as the seizure of firearms, drugs and pirated DVDs.
Agencies involved in “Operation Red Right Hand” included the: California Department of Justice, Merced Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Merced County Sheriff’s Department, Los Banos Police Department, Livingston Police Department, Drug Enforcement Agency, Merced County Probation Department, California Parole Agents, Merced Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force and the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.