Kern County Sheriff's deputies say gangs in Lamont are using fear and intimidation to rob people. Three men say they were routinely shaken down for money before they were recently beaten in a home invasion robbery.
Two men are in custody and a third is on the loose. Deputies don't believe it is an isolated incident.
Deputies say they are seeing more and more cases of gang intimidation in Lamont. But, some people don't report it to law enforcement because they're afraid they will be deported.
Just southeast of Bakersfield, in Lamont, a small white home sits on Buena Vista Boulevard. It looks abandoned. But, deputies say it is where a home invasion robbery turned violent in July.
"Three gentlemen inside the home were assaulted without provocation. Three subjects forced their way into the house, assaulted the three men, and took their possessions," said Sgt. Lauro Cantu, Kern County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies arrested Fernando Amaya and Andres Valenzuela. They're still looking for Darrin Goodwin. Deputies say the three men had visited the home several times before, using fear and intimidation to extort money from their victims.
"These subjects who were afraid to even call law enforcement for fear of retaliation," continued Cantu.
But, this time the three men inside the home say they were so badly beaten, they were taken by ambulance to Kern Medical Center. According to family members, one victim moved out of town.
"He had to flee town because he feared for his life. He was afraid that they were going to come back and beat him again," she said.
Deputies don't believe this is an isolated incident. "I think this happens more often than we would like to imagine. It's just sometimes people are reluctant to come forward to law enforcement to seek help," said Cantu.
Deputies say three documented gang members are responsible for the recent beatings. "This is one of the ways that gangs in these small communities make money in order to purchase guns or drugs. This is part of their organized crime," continued Cantu.
Fernando Amaya and Andres Valenzuela are behind bars, facing six felony charges each. A third suspect, Darrin Goodwin, is still on the loose.
A felony warrant has been issued for Goodwin. If you know where he is, call the Sheriff's Department at 861-3110.