DA Reaches Out to Immigrant and Refugee Communities

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said today that her office is conducting new outreach to immigrant and refugee populations in the county with the goal of allaying fears about reporting a crime and encouraging cooperation with law enforcement if someone is a victim or witness to a crime. According to the County’s Health and Human Services Administration, approximately 21.5% of the county’s population are immigrants, including refugees.

“My office is committed to keeping every child, adult and senior safe from crime in San Diego County and that includes our large immigrant and refugee communities. It is understandable that if you are a refugee from another country, a documented or an undocumented immigrant, there may be uncertainty about reporting a crime to law enforcement,” said DA Stephan. “We want to ease the fears that people in these communities have and encourage them to contact local law enforcement and cooperate with the DA’s Office if they, a family member, or friend become the victim of a crime. We will not ask their immigration status, which is the law in California, and we have services that can help them.”

So far, the DA’s Office has printed cards in English, Spanish, Farsi and Ukrainian, which encourage refugees and immigrants, whether undocumented or documented, who are victims or witnesses of a crime to report the incident to law enforcement. Police departments, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office are only concerned about the details of the crime, not an individual’s immigration status.

The San Diego District Attorney’s Office does not, in accordance with California law, report immigration status and does not tolerate any actions intended to interfere with or retaliate against potential crime witnesses.

San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas, who represents District 1, said the outreach is needed as the county’s immigrant population is significant and constantly evolving.

“Regardless of their immigration status, all residents in our county should feel safe about accessing the justice system if they are a victim, witness, or otherwise harmed by a crime — it is their right,” said Vice Chair Nora Vargas, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “I’m proud to work in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office and our Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs on this effort to widely distribute information cards to remind refugees and immigrants that they will not be asked about their immigration status when reaching out for assistance to law enforcement.”

Local data provided to the County Refugee Coordinator by local resettlement agency partners shows there were 3,715 refugee arrivals in San Diego County during fiscal year 2021/2022 from 29 countries. The DA is working in conjunction with the San Diego County Office of Refugee and Immigrant Affairs, which is distributing the printed cards to non-profit organizations and other groups that provide aid and resources for immigrants.

“It is essential for immigrant and refugee populations to feel safe and supported in their community,” said Lucero Chavez Basilio, Director of the County Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Department of Homeless Solutions & Equitable Communities. “We will distribute these cards in the community to help ensure all county residents know their rights and understand they have access to resources that can help protect them and their families, without fear of repercussions or unintended consequences and regardless of immigration status. Reiterating this message is an important step in creating a just, sustainable and resilient future for everyone.”

The DA has also produced videos in English and Spanish which feature DA Stephan and Cardinal Robert McElroy. The videos are being posted on social media and shared by Catholic Charities, through its extensive network, to connect with these vulnerable populations and assure them that their status should not stop them from reporting a crime or seeking victim services. Catholic Charities has programming that works to facilitate an effective and memorable transition experience for refugees through an integrated provision of services: resettlement, employment, acculturation, case management, and health.

“The safety and security of the immigrant and refugee communities is close to the heart of God, and we are blessed that here in San Diego County, a person reporting a crime against themselves or their family or friends will find justice and protection without in any way endangering their immigration status or right to continue to live in this community,” said Cardinal McElroy.

Anyone who has been a victim of a crime and needs assistance can call 619-531-4041. A District Attorney Victim Advocate will speak with you ad determine how we can assist you. Program services are provided free of charge, and there is no legal citizenship requirement to receive assistance. More about the DA’s Victim Services Division can be found here.

Public Encouraged to Report Suspected Fraud Amid Int’l Fraud Awareness Week 

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is encouraging the public to report fraud during International Fraud Awareness Week. Insurance Fraud is the second-largest economic crime in the U.S. and costs California residents about $15 billion a year. To combat this problem, the District Attorney, in conjunction with the California Department of Insurance, is shining a spotlight on this issue to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.

In 2021, the DA’s Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division filed criminal charges against 264 defendants and obtained 194 convictions for various insurance fraud offenses. As a result of these convictions, nearly $8.9 million in restitution was ordered for victims, including individuals, insurers, and state agencies.

“Committing fraud is not a victimless crime, it is a serious financial crime that affects everyone from grandparents to businesses owners and corporations,” DA Stephan said. “Bad actors can be strangers or even family members and often the fraud devastates victims both financially and emotionally. When the fraud is against insurers, it can also translate into negative impact on all consumers who pay the price when insurance prices spike because of unscrupulous actors. If you know of fraud being committed, report it.” 

The Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division is dedicated to eradicating insurance fraud, whether it relates to workers’ compensation, automobile insurance, life insurance, or fraud in the healthcare industry. It also prosecutes other crimes that defraud and exploit people, including wage theft, tax evasion and even labor trafficking.

The DA’s Economic Crimes Division is responsible for prosecuting a wide variety of wrongdoing, including computer intrusion, identity theft, investment scams, embezzlements, real estate matters, counterfeit goods, environmental crimes and the theft of public assistance funds. The division also acts to protect consumers and businesses by successfully filing numerous civil cases to prohibit unfair business practices within the marketplace.

Examples of the types of crimes that the Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division prosecutes are:

  • Workers’ Compensation Provider Fraud – When medical and legal providers, including doctors, chiropractors, and lawyers are paying or receiving kickbacks for referrals, billing for services not rendered or overbilling for services provided.
  • Workers’ Compensation Premium Fraud – When a business misrepresents its true payroll, the type of work it performs, or conceals employee injuries to pay lower workers’ compensation premiums. One of the most common premium fraud schemes occurs when employers pay employees in cash without reporting that cash payroll to the Employment Development Department and their insurer. This activity results in $7 billion in lost revenue each year and evasion of approximately $6.5 million in payroll taxes annually. Frequently, employers who commit premium fraud also engage in other crimes, including wage theft, tax evasion, and labor/human trafficking.
  • Workers’ Compensation Applicant Fraud – When employees fake or exaggerate work injuries to collect workers’ compensation benefits, or when employers make false statements to deny benefits to injured workers.
  • Uninsured Employers – Every business in California is required to have workers’ compensation insurance to cover its employees in the event of a workplace injury. These cases are especially important because if an employee is injured at work and their employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, the employee may have no recourse to get required care and benefits.
  • Auto Insurance Fraud – Fraudulently obtaining payment on an auto insurance policy based on false information such as inflated or faked damages, staged collisions, false claims of vehicle theft and arson. This fraud costs consumers billions of dollars each year in the form of higher insurance premiums.
  • Disability and Healthcare Fraud – This involves fraudulent medical and disability claims and policies, including medical providers who fraudulently bill insurance companies or who divert medications for personal use or sale. Healthcare fraud increases medical costs for everyone.
  • Life and Annuity Fraud – Unscrupulous life insurance agents and others who seek to steal the savings of victims through power-of-attorney abuse, securities fraud, and fraudulent claims on legitimate policies. These scams often target senior citizens, and the impact is life-altering, since seniors do not have the time or opportunity for financial recovery.
  • Workplace Justice Violations – We have developed an innovative approach to the prosecution of wage theft, wage and hour violations, meal and rest break abuses, unfair business practices, tax evasion, and labor trafficking.

In 2021, the Economic Crimes Division filed criminal charges against 300 defendants and obtained 83 convictions. Additionally, from those convictions defendants were ordered to pay over $2.8 million in restitution.

This division also pursued civil enforcement actions against various businesses for unfair competition or environmental violations. In 2021, the Consumer Protection and Environmental Protection Units completed over a dozen major civil enforcement actions resulting in injunctions to stop the unlawful business practices and statewide monetary relief that included millions of dollars in civil penalties, costs and restitution.

Some examples of the types of cases that the Economic Crimes Division prosecutes are as follows:

  • Real Estate Fraud – This type of crime involves various fraudulent real estate transactions and/or schemes such as the submission of forged loan applications; fraudulent transfers of title of real property; recordation of fraudulent real estate documents; home equity sale contract fraud; and mortgage foreclosure consultant fraud. 
  • Computer and Technology Crimes High Tech Task Force (CATCH) – This Unit prosecutes high-technology criminals engaged in crimes where technology is the prime instrumentality of the crime, or where technology is the target of the crime, such as; theft facilitated by technology, theft of technology resources, network intrusions, online harassment and stalking, as well as providing technical and investigative assistance to local law enforcement agencies with respect to digital forensics.
  • Identity Theft – These crimes usually involve criminals acquiring key pieces of someone’s identifying information to impersonate them and commit numerous forms of fraud which include taking over the victim’s financial accounts, opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards, and social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services with utility and phone companies.
  • Complex Theft – These crimes commonly involve embezzlement or investment scams.  Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom it has been entrusted. Instead of using the company’s payroll system or checking or credit card account for legitimate company business, the individual uses these accounts to steal by directing the money to his or her own accounts or to pay for personal expenses.  Grand theft schemes take many forms but include scams where the perpetrator misleads individuals about an investment opportunity and instead the uses the money to support the perpetrator’s lifestyle.
  • Consumer Protection – These cases generally involve a business or an individual taking advantage of consumers.  These cases can range from a business failing to warn a consumer that their credit card will be billed on an ongoing basis to a business using scanners that charge an amount over the advertised price to building contractors operating without a license.  These cases also include other unfair business practices such as misleading product labeling or false advertising.
  • Environmental Protection – These cases generally involve businesses that violate rules relating to the environment such as hazardous waste disposal, underground storage tank regulations and clean air act statutes.

If you see, hear, or know of an insurance fraud scam happening in your area, please contact the DA’s Office through the Insurance Fraud hotline at (800) 315-7672 or at sdconnect@sdcda.org, or contact the California Department of Insurance at (800) 927-4357. To report fraud related to real estate, you can contact the DA’s Real Estate Fraud hotline at (619) 531-3552. To report any other type of fraud or criminal activity, please contact your local law enforcement agency. For information and resources about International Fraud Awareness Week, visit www.FraudWeek.com.

Man Sentenced for Convention Center Shootout

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that defendant Daniel Quiroz, 31, who was convicted by a jury last month of attempted murder and other charges, has been sentenced to 45 years-to-life in prison. Quiroz engaged in a shootout with a Harbor Police officer outside the San Diego Convention Center in March 2021, shortly after being pulled over for a traffic violation.

Quiroz was charged with attempting to kill a San Diego Harbor Police Officer and assault with a semi-automatic firearm on a civilian on March 1, 2021 near Fifth Avenue and Harbor Drive.

“This defendant had no regard for life when he recklessly engaged in a shootout on a downtown street,” DA Stephan said. “Traffic stops are some of the most dangerous situations for peace officers as this case clearly demonstrates, and the guilty jury verdict along with today’s prison sentence brings justice to the police officer and civilian victim in this case.”

 

The civilian victim was struck by a stray bullet during the shootout but was unharmed because the bullet was likely a ricochet that also deflected off of his eyeglasses case which he had in his back pocket. In addition to the attempted murder charge, Quiroz was convicted of three counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm.

Deputy District Attorney Frederick Washington prosecuted this case.

Fatal DUIs Spike Amid COVID-19

DA’s Office Receives Grant to Prosecute Serious DUI Cases

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that her office is receiving a $733,650 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for the ninth year in a row to prevent and prosecute impaired driving deaths and DUI-drug cases. The grant award comes as San Diego County experienced more fatal DUI crashes in 2021 than the county has seen in more than two decades.

Last year, 39 people were killed in 36 DUI-related crashes. So far in 2022, there has been a moderate decrease with 24 people killed, including a 1-year-old child.

“Prosecuting and investigating these important cases require a specialized team of prosecutors and investigators to be able to hold offenders accountable and deter this deadly behavior,” DA Stephan said. “The spike in the number of people dying at the hands of impaired drivers in recent years is disturbing. As the holiday season approaches, people need to make responsible choices, use ride sharing services and keep their friends and family from getting behind the wheel if they are impaired.”

Data shows average blood-alcohol levels of drivers involved in Driving Under the Influence cases are also higher than last year at over .18%. Prosecutors say that more than half of individuals being arrested for driving under the influence have both alcohol and drugs in their system—a deadly combination.

The grant will allow the DA’s DUI Homicide Unit to continue its critical work. The unit, which launched in 2014, streamlines complex DUI cases by creating expertise within the DA’s Office. The specialized unit creates uniformity in sentencing among the four adult courthouses. In addition, the unit helps law enforcement adapt to changes in technology by having a designated DA Investigator who is trained in the latest techniques in collision reconstruction. Since its inception, the unit has prosecuted nearly 200 cases and they have received more than $3.9 million in funding from the Office of Traffic Safety.

Funding will also be used to:

  • Provide training for a select prosecutor to become an expert in DUI-drug cases.
  • Provide training for prosecutors and investigators through California’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program.
  • Host quarterly regional meetings with law enforcement partners to improve DUI investigations and prosecutions.

“With various alternative transportation options available, there are zero excuses and zero tolerance for driving after drinking or under the influence of a drug,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “The work of the vertical prosecution team is critical in addressing the serious dangers posed by impaired driving.”

In 2021, the District Attorney’s Office filed 5,695 DUI cases, including 134 DUI drug cases and 40 DUI cases in which both alcohol and drugs were present in the driver’s system. So far this year, the DA’s Office has filed 5,120 DUI cases including 192 DUI drug cases and 46 combined alcohol and drug impairment cases.

Funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety is provided through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NakedWines.com Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that Nakedwines.com, Inc. settled a consumer protection lawsuit alleging that Naked Wines violated provisions of California’s Automatic Renewal Laws. As part of the settlement, Naked Wines entered into an injunction prohibiting future violations of renewal laws and, without admitting liability, agreed to pay $650,000 in civil penalties and costs.

The lawsuit was filed in San Diego Superior Court by the District Attorneys for San Diego, Alameda, Napa, Shasta, and Sonoma counties. The prosecution team alleged that Naked Wine’s “Wine Angel” program failed to adequately inform consumers that they were enrolling in a subscription that would charge $40 a month that members could use to purchase select wines. The prosecution team also alleged that the company’s “Wine Genie” product – an automatically-renewing monthly subscription for pre-selected wine shipments – similarly failed to comply with automatic renewal laws. In addition, the complaint alleges that both programs’ post-payment acknowledgments did not have all the requisite disclosures mandated under the law, and that their cancelation processes failed to supply an easy-to-use mechanism to stop recurring charges.

“California’s strict automatic renewal laws are designed to ensure that consumers are not misled when signing-up for subscription-based services or product deliveries,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “This is another example of our consumer protection team working successfully with their counterparts across the state to achieve compliance with these important laws.”

The settlement is the latest in which the San Diego County District Attorney has participated as part of its ongoing effort to ensure that businesses offering automatically renewing subscriptions or shipments of product comply strictly with the state’s automatic renewal laws.  Further, since July, amendments to the law require that merchants offering automatically renewing subscriptions or shipments of product online must now make certain that:

  • Consumers can cancel online.
  • Consumers who wish to cancel online have access to a prominently displayed direct link in the customer account or a pre-formatted email that the consumer can use to cancel.
  • The consumer can cancel immediately.
  • Companies can no longer require consumers to engage further steps, such as answering questions or completing surveys as a condition of cancelation, or otherwise make it difficult to complete the cancelation process.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor entered a final court judgment on the parties’ stipulated settlement on October 6, 2022.

Naked Wines cooperated with the prosecution team and has taken steps to ensure its web disclosures and processes comply with California’s Automatic Renewal Laws.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen M. Spinella with the Consumer Protection Unit handled this case for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

DA-Sponsored Bill That Gives Life Saving Medical Access to Domestic Violence Victims Signed into Law

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a bill her office sponsored, giving victims of domestic violence assault equal access to comparable forensic exams that sexual assault victims receive, has been signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Assembly Bill 2185, authored by Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber and sponsored by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, codifies the gold standard of forensic medical examination and documentation, and brings equal access and parity to all victims of domestic violence in California. The new law will promote access and enhance positive health outcomes for domestic violence survivors.

“This new law can save lives,” DA Summer Stephan said. “The law provided for sexual assault victims to have access to medical forensic exams and treatment at no cost, but not for domestic violence victims, even though both are at risk for life-threatening injuries. We know that these domestic violence medical evidentiary examinations can be critical, especially in cases of strangulation. I want to thank Assemblymember Akilah Weber, M.D., who immediately saw the great benefit that this law can provide through her unique physician lens, and fought to make this law a reality for vulnerable victims.”

Strangulation injuries are often internal with no external visible injuries; making life-threatening injuries easy to miss without proper training for examiners, and immediate assessment, accurate diagnosis, and treatment. Research shows that a victim strangled even one time is 750% more likely to be killed later by her abuser compared to a domestic violence victim who has never been strangled. The percentage is higher if there are multiple strangulation assaults or altered consciousness.

“In San Diego County, the District Attorney’s office implemented a countywide pilot program with trained forensic nurse examiners to document strangulation and other injuries from domestic violence assaults through medical evidentiary exams,” said Assemblymember Akilah Weber, M.D. “The evidence proved that the exams coupled with early intervention with counseling and resources for women and families resulted in saving lives. This is why I authored AB 2185 to scale the pilot program statewide and expand access to medical evidentiary examinations for survivors of domestic violence assault to all Californians. AB 2185 will also create a funding system to reimburse qualified healthcare professionals for administering these exams. I appreciate Governor Newsom’s signing the Legislative Women’s Caucus priority bills which underscores California’s commitment to achieving equitable policies for all women.”

In 2016, experts from San Diego County recognized that domestic violence examinations were not being utilized throughout California. In 2017, as part of Cal OES XC grant, San Diego County piloted a program where specially trained forensic nurses were dispatched to law enforcement scenes to better document domestic violence strangulation cases. The purpose of the pilot was to enhance the collective coordinated community response to victims of abuse related assault, to provide those victims with evidentiary exams, and to document strangulation and other injuries free of charge to victims. These examinations increased access to victims and provided awareness about the medical dangers of strangulation incidents. For example, one victim of a serious assault suffered a fractured larynx but didn’t realize it until a forensic nurse performing a medical evidentiary exam, screened her and referred her to the emergency room. The victim could have died had it not been for this intervention.

Specially trained forensic nurses examine the patient/victim, take additional photographs, encourage the victim to seek emergency medical care when necessary, and connect them to local advocacy resources and supportive victim services.

Over 1,000 victims and survivors of abuse across San Diego County have benefitted from forensic domestic violence assault exams, at no cost them. Since the pilot program went into effect, domestic violence homicides dropped by 15% between 2017 and 2020 and those resulting from strangulation also dropped substantially. (San Diego Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team).

DA’s Office Adds Identity Theft Resource Center ‘Live Chat’ to Help Crime Victims

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that her office is partnering with San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) to provide a live chat box on the DA’s public website in an effort to support victims of identity crimes.

In adding the ability to live chat with the ITRC’s expert advisors to the DA’s website, victims can receive instant assistance on issues related to identity theft, identity fraud and data breaches. The ITRC identity theft advisors will also provide preventative information and customized plans to address identity concerns.

“We are always looking for ways to prevent crime in San Diego County and by adding this service to our website, in partnership with the Identity Theft Resource Center, we are providing real time support to would-be victims of identity theft,” DA Stephan said. “Identity theft can financially devastate people and businesses, so we want the public to use resources that are available to help them make smart decisions and protect their personal identifying information.”

The ITRC, which was founded in 1999, is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization established to support victims of identity crime. It was established to empower and guide consumers, victims, businesses and the government to minimize risk and mitigate the impact of identity compromise and crime.

“We are thrilled to join with the San Diego DA’s office to help identity crime victims in San Diego County,” said Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “Our partnership allows us to reach more people in San Diego County who need help recovering from or preventing identity theft or fraud. Victims of identity crimes require unique support to recover from having their personal information misused. It is our mission to provide that.”

More than 7% of the ITRC’s total cases in 2022 are from victims who live in California who have sought help about compromised personally identifiable information due to scams, and the misuse of personal information through existing account takeover. The Google Voice scam is the ITRC’s top reported scam from California this year.

When using the chat, ITRC advisors will:

  • Ask what happened
  • Ask a series of questions to help determine the scope of the problem
  • Provide a custom plan of action and steps to take

Advisors will assist victims live in English or Spanish during business hours or through direct follow-up when contacted after hours and on weekends. The ITRC is also committed to providing access to everyone seeking help. Read the accessibility initiative here. Anyone can contact an advisor toll-free by using the ITRC live-chat on idtheftcenter.org or by calling 888.400.5530.

Murderer Sentenced for 2015 Killing

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that defendant Roger Hernandez, 34, who was convicted in April of murder, has been sentenced to 67years-to-life in prison for killing 18-year-old Juan Muñoz, Jr. in 2015. Munoz was murdered as he was returning from buying soft drinks and snacks when he crossed paths with gang members.

In October 2015, Roger Hernandez and Luis Karam chased down Muñoz, thinking he was a rival gang member. When the teen stopped at a stop sign on the same block where his friends were fixing a car, Karam pulled in front of his car preventing Muñoz from being able to drive away. Hernandez got out of the car and issued a gang challenge. Before Muñoz could answer, Hernandez repeatedly fired into the car with a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun. Hernandez shot Muñoz multiple times through the arm, shoulder, and neck, killing him.

In 2018, the case had gone cold when the DA’s Office revisited the case. Working with National City Police, prosecutors and DA investigators they were able to narrow in on two suspects and develop additional evidence.

Hernandez was arrested for the murder in November 2018. One week later, U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force attempted to arrest co-defendant Karam, but he fled. When caught, he attempted to take his own life, but survived and was ultimately taken into custody. Karam was sentenced to 20 years in state prison in July after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter, admitting to an allegation that the killing was done for the benefit of a criminal street gang and that a deadly weapon was used during the offense.

“This innocent young victim was hunted by violent gang members and was tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time,” DA Stephan said. “A measure of justice has finally been delivered to the family of Juan Muñoz, Jr. We will continue to fight to keep every neighborhood safe from crime and address gang violence through prosecution and prevention.”

This latest gang-related sentencing comes as law enforcement officials are grappling with an increase in gang-related shootings and the ongoing proliferation of firearms – in particular, so-called untraceable “ghost guns.” DA Gang prosecutions increased from 368 in 2020 to 465 in 2021.

Juan Muñoz’ parents, Elizabeth and Juan Sr., have channeled their grief into activism over the years, including focusing on addressing mental health issues and trauma resulting from violence.

McLeod

Fugitive Murderer Arrested in Central America

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said today that defendant Raymond McLeod, 37, wanted for the murder of 30-year-old Krystal Mitchell in San Diego, was taken into custody Monday afternoon by El Salvadoran law enforcement authorities without incident. McLeod will be returned to San Diego County to face a charge of murder.

“This defendant’s brazen attempt to evade justice is over and the work to hold him accountable in a court of law for the murder of Krystal Mitchell can now begin,” said DA Stephan. “Huge credit goes to the victim’s mother who never gave up searching for her daughter’s killer and worked closely with our office and other law enforcement to make this arrest possible.”

McLeod confirmed his identity to members of the U.S. Marshals team and members of the U.S. Embassy, who were on the ground with the El Salvadoran local and national police when they took him into custody around 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time). Authorities had received a tip that McLeod had been teaching English at a school in Sonsonate.

Beginning in 2018, the DA’s Office coordinated with the U.S. Marshals Service to lead a targeted social media campaign in Spanish and English to encourage tips on McLeod’s whereabouts through Crime Stoppers. The DA placed Facebook and Instagram ads focused on users in Central America and Mexico. McLeod had been spotted in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize.

The victim’s mother, Josephine Funes Wentzel, is a former police detective has been instrumental in helping authorities search for McLeod. Wentzel has generated leads for law enforcement and helped spread word about the international manhunt on social media.

On June 10, 2016, San Diego police officers responded to a 911 call of a woman not breathing inside of an apartment in the 7600 block of Mission Gorge Road in San Diego. The woman, later identified a Krystal Mitchell from Phoenix, Arizona, was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. Detectives from the San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit responded to the scene and determined that Mitchell was last seen alive with her boyfriend (Raymond McLeod). Mitchell and McLeod, also from Phoenix, had been in San Diego visiting friends.

McLeod fled to Mexico after Mitchell’s death. The District Attorney’s Office charged McLeod with murder in June of 2016 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

DA Releases Annual Report

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan today released the DA’s 2021 Annual Reportnoting a number of recent accomplishments across many different areas of her office’s mission.

“This report reflects the work of the dedicated DA team of prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates and staff working alongside law enforcement and the communities we serve to keep San Diego one of the safest urban counties in America,” said DA Stephan. “We will keep fighting for every child, adult and senior to live safely and with dignity.”

The Annual Report can be found here.

The report includes:

•         a breakdown of prosecutions by crime type

•         high-profile cases in which prosecutors delivered convictions

•         an innovative juvenile diversion program that is restoring the lives of youth

•         the fight to expand reporting of hate crimes and the tripling of hate crimes prosecutions

•         the opening of One Safe Place—the North County Family Justice Center

•         the expansion of mental health services in the county through Crisis Stabilization Centers

•         a re-energized fight against the fentanyl epidemic

•         an initiative to bring down organized retail crime rings