Contributed by the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office:
District Attorney Bob Lee announced that Jonathan Ayala and Gabriel Maez were sentenced yesterday to five years each in state prison on charges of active participation in a criminal gang and residential burglary.
The burglary took place on Sept. 3 in Aptos. A vacationing British family returned to their rental home to find several gang members burglarizing the residence. When the father confronted the burglars, Ayala threatened him with a knife and forced him to retreat.
However, the victim did notice the car the burglars were driving and called in the license plate number. Police responded and a high speed pursuit ensued, ending with the suspect vehicle crashing near the Home Depot in Watsonville.
Five people fled the car. Gabriel Maez and Jonathan Ayala were taken into custody at the scene, and three others escaped. Of the three that escaped, two were female juveniles and the third was eventually identified as Andre Lopez. Further investigation linked Lopez to two other residential burglaries, and he was sentenced on Jan. 31 to nine years and eight months in state prison.
The District Attorney's Office was pleased with the outcome.
"What happened to the British family was a shame, and not at all the kind of thing that should be happening in our community," said Assistant District Attorney Charlie Baum, who prosecuted the case. "We are relieved these gang members will be off the streets and spending a substantial amount of time in prison."