Mexican Mafia 'tax collectors' arrested for extortion conspiracy

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (KABC) -- Four Santa Barbara-area suspects with gang ties were arrested Wednesday for conspiracy to commit extortion for the benefit of a criminal street gang following a 16-month investigation.

Benjamin Ybarra, 36, of Santa Barbara; Jesse Martin Enriquez, 35, of Santa Barbara; Franco Eric Aguiniga, 24, of Lompoc; and Ruben Jose Regalado Jr., 34, of Santa Maria were arrested Wednesday morning.

Santa Barbara Police launched an ongoing investigation into Mexican Mafia and Surenos gang members committing crimes in Santa Barbara County after Raymond Macias was arrested for kidnapping, torture and solicitation of extortion in the Lompoc area on June 6, 2013.

The investigation determined that Ybarra, Enriquez, Aguiniga, and Regalado conspired to extort money (known as "collecting taxes") from Santa Barbara County residents on behalf of the Mexican Mafia.

Extortion victims were involved in both legitimate and criminal activities, according to police.

Santa Barbara police detectives obtained felony arrest warrants and search warrants for the four suspects and their residences. Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Santa Maria police and state Corrections and Rehabilitations personnel served the warrants and arrested the four men without incident on Wednesday morning.

Ruben Jose Regalado Jr. was also arrested for conspiracy to possess methamphetamine for sale for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

Regalado, Ybarra and Enriquez are Santa Barbara-area gang members, and Aguiniga has ties to Lompoc-area gangs, according to police.

All four men were booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.

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