U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash.
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News Release
Sureno Gang Member Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Murder on Yakama Nation Indian Reservation - 06/11/24

Yakima, Washington - Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Jaime Herrera, age 29, of Granger, Washington, was sentenced after pleading guilty to one count of Second-Degree Murder in Indian Country and one count of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Indian Country. United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke imposed a sentence of 360-month imprisonment to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Judge Dimke imposed the 360-month sentence to run consecutively to a 240-month sentence for another murder Herrera committed in Yakima County. Herrera will serve a total of 600 months – or 50 years – in prison.

According to court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing, on July 19, 2017, around 3:15 a.m., Herrera, who is a Sureno gang member and not affiliated with the Yakama Nation, was driving his SUV and pulled up alongside two men walking on the road between Garfield Elementary School and Garfield Park, in Toppenish, Washington, within the external boundaries of the Yakama Nation Indian Reservation. Herrera accused the pair of being traitors to the gang, pulled out a rifle and killed one of the men – an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation. The second man – who survived the shooting – is an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe. 

While the investigation into the murder was ongoing, Herrera committed a second, unrelated homicide in the Yakima Valley – arranging an ambush and ultimately shooting the victim. Herrera was arrested shortly after the second murder, pleaded guilty in Washington State Court, and was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment in that case. 

“The victim in this case was a son, a brother, and a new father – his daughter, a toddler at the time of his death, is growing up without a father because of Mr. Herrera’s senseless act of violence. While even the lengthy sentence in this case cannot substitute for the tragic loss of life, today’s sentence demonstrates that those who victimize members of our community – and in particular persons who enter Tribal communities to commit violence– will be held accountable,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “As a result of today’s sentence, the Eastern District of Washington is safer and more secure. I am grateful for the dedication of the FBI and the Yakama Nation who worked closely with prosecutors in my office to hold a double murderer accountable for his actions.” 

“Senseless is the only word to describe this crime.” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “The violence Mr. Herrera displayed in this case, and subsequently in a separate case, indicates prison is where he belongs. I applaud the work of our investigators and partners who work so hard to make our state’s reservations safe for the people who live on them.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit Justice.gov/PSN.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Yakama Nation Tribal Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Earl Hicks and Michael Ellis. 

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