5 men arrested for allegedly street racing in Coachella

Juan Ceferino, Edgar Cervantes, Estavan Jesus Donato, Alberto Morales, Juvena Morales (Riverside County Sheriff's Department)

The Coachella Police Department announced on Tuesday five recent arrests as part of a crackdown on illegal street racing in the city.

The arrests were detailed in a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department:

On Sunday, May 5, 2019, 9:00 PM, Coachella Police Officers issued seven traffic citations and made two arrests for street racing. Juvena Morales, 21 of Mecca and Juan Ceferino, 24 of Coachella were arrested for street racing and booked into the county jail in Indio.

On Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at 10:05 PM, Coachella Police Officers observed two vehicles street racing northbound Grapefruit from Park Lane. A traffic enforcement stop was attempted on both vehicles near Avenue 49. Neither vehicle yielded, and one vehicle accelerated and attempted to flee. Officers conducted a stop on that vehicle, which continued to Indio Blvd north of Avenue 48 before yielding. The driver, Edgar Cervantes, 26 of Indio, was determined to be driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, and on DUI probation. Cervantes was arrested and booked at the Indio Jail.

On Friday, May 17, 2019, about 6:54 PM, Coachella Police Officers responded to the area of Grapefruit Blvd and Mitchel Drive, reference a major traffic collision. Jose Prieto, 75 of Coachella was pronounced deceased at the scene and Sofia Prieto, 74 of Coachella was pronounced deceased at a local hospital. Another male was transported to a local hospital and remains in critical condition.

The preliminary investigation suggests that street racing was a factor in the collision. On May 18, 2019, Estavan Jesus Donato, 27 of Coachella was arrested for vehicular manslaughter and booked at Indio Jail.

On Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 8:27 PM, Coachella Police Officers witnessed two vehicles traveling at a high rate speed (80 to 100 MPH) S/B on Grapefruit Blvd. Officers managed to stop one of the vehicles in the Cardenas Market parking lot. The driver, Alberto Morales, 31 of Coachella was arrested and booked into the county jail on street racing charges and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department notes that, in partnership with local allied agencies, they are taking a “zero-tolerance approach” to illegal street racing.   According to the department, “participants, aiders and abettors, and retailers supplying and installing the illegal equipment often found on the vehicles at these events will be identified through collaborative law enforcement efforts and prosecuted for the multitude of crimes resulting from these illegal acts.”

Anyone with info about street racing in the city is asked to to contact Sergeant Steven Davis at the Thermal Sheriff’s Station (760) 863-8990, Riverside Sheriff’s Dispatch (760) 836-3215, or Crime Stoppers at 760-341-STOP (7867).