Central Coast roundup 

By Agencies
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District Attorney’s Office and the California Highway Patrol informed that four men have been arrested for burglarizing and stealing more than $500,000 dollars from the Ventura County Fairgrounds. 

“This successful operation shows the strength of the CHP’s investigative teams in collaboration with our county, state, and federal partners, and I thank them for their support,” said CHP Coastal Division Special Services Unit Lieutenant Eric Zivic. 

On August 10 of last year, just days later after the biggest fair in the Central Coast saw an ending, a burglary occurred at the County Fairgrounds, $518 thousand dollars in cash was stolen from the administration building, according to the CHP. 

After an extensive investigation, CHP officers served four simultaneous search warrants in Los Angeles County.

Alexander Piceno (02/07/95), of Baldwin Park, Rafael Morales (10/24/66), of La Puente, Carlos Aranda (02/26/79), of Los Angeles, and Jesus Rios (03/12/67), of El Monte, were arrested on March 2.

On Monday, March 6, the four men were charged with theft of public money, burglary, grand theft, and conspiracy, the men could be sentenced to prison for up to 5 years 4 months.

“Since last summer, the public has been demanding answers for this burglary at our fairgrounds and thanks to the tireless work of the California Highway Patrol, these four men were found, apprehended and arrested,” said District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. 

Morales, Rios, and Aranda are being held on $1 million bail. Piceno has bail set at $500,000. The court has ordered no bail can be posted without proof that the funds do not come from criminal activity.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Leventhal, a member of the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Fraud and Technology Crimes Unit, is assigned to the case.

“I especially want to highlight the bravery of the officers involved. The CHP will continue to take the lead in investigating crimes that occur within state jurisdiction,” said Zivic.


District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that both people responsible for the death of newborn baby Diego Villa have pled guilty to murder charges. 

Diego Villa (07/15/98), was in a relationship with Andrea Torralba Camacho (11/30/98), when they moved to Oxnard from Oaxaca, Mexico, in early 2019. 

Camacho was pregnant from an alleged rape by another man in Oaxaca and did not want the baby.

On July 18, 2019, Camacho went into labor at St. John’s Medical Center in Oxnard and had a healthy baby boy named Diego. 

That night, Villa and Camacho attempted to kill the baby. 

When their initial efforts failed, Villa took Diego in his arms and strangled him. 

Once it appeared Diego was dead, Villa placed him back in the bassinet and called the nurse. Diego was taken to the intensive care unit and pronounced dead the next day.

Villa and Camacho were charged with murder and assault on a child causing death. 

Camacho showed symptoms of postpartum depression.

Camacho pled guilty to second-degree murder on January 20, 2023. 

She is set to be sentenced on March 29, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 23 of the Ventura County Superior Court. 

Villa, pled guilty to the willful, deliberate, and premeditated first-degree murder on February 27, 2023. 

He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30, at 9:00 a.m.

“This case is a tragedy that was completely preventable. California’s Safe Surrender Baby Law would have allowed the defendants to walk away from the hospital and leave baby Diego in the care of medical staff. However, Villa chose to take the life of a defenseless infant who was less than a day old. It’s truly heart breaking that baby Diego’s life was so callously disregarded,” said prosecutor Amber Lee.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee is a member of the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Major Crimes Homicides Unit.

The Safe Surrender Baby Law aims to protect babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned. 

The law allows a parent or legal guardian to confidentially surrender an infant, three days old or younger, to any hospital emergency room or designated fire station. 

As long as the baby has not been abused or neglected, the person may surrender the baby without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment. The baby will receive needed medical treatment and be placed in adoptive care.


The newly formed Ventura County Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force (VCCEHTTF) announced on Tuesday the arrest of a Moorpark man who is charged in a federal criminal complaint with soliciting on social media platforms sexually explicit photos from two individuals he thought were 14-year-old girls. Thomas Gissell, 27, of Moorpark, was taken into custody Monday morning by federal and state authorities participating in the Task Force. 

Gissell is charged with attempted enticement of a minor, an offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. 

“We are committed to protecting our children by educating them about online predators, as well as focusing on proven enforcement and prosecution strategies,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office began investigating Gissell after receiving information that he had contacted undercover law enforcement officers posing as teenage girls. 

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Gissell engaged in online chats with the individuals and asked them to send nude photos. 

Gissell was originally arrested on February 7 pursuant to charges filed by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. 

Following that arrest, Task Force investigators determined Gissell had been receiving suspected child sexual abuse material during online chats with numerous victims around the country. 

The matter was subsequently presented to the United States Attorney’s Office, which filed the federal complaint on February 27. 

At his initial appearance Monday afternoon in United States District Court, Gissell was ordered freed upon the posting of a secured $1 million bond. 

Once released, he will be subject to home incarceration with GPS monitoring. 

He was further ordered to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18 years old and no access to internet connected devices. 

An arraignment in this case was scheduled for April 11 and this case is the first criminal case brought by the Task Force. 

The VCCEHTTF is comprised of investigators and prosecutors with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, the Simi Valley Police Department, the Oxnard Police Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the United States Attorney’s Office. 

“The FBI has worked seamlessly with our local law enforcement partners to address criminal violations of child exploitation and human trafficking throughout both Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties and has recently formalized that collaboration by creating an official task force to maximize resources,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.