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Trio convicted in Pacific Beach carjacking case

Three Los Angeles men who participated in the carjacking of a man and his then-girlfriend in Pacific Beach because the male victim owed money for a drug debt were convicted Monday of kidnapping during a carjacking and evading police with reckless driving.

Gustavo Martinez Jr., 22, — who was also convicted of being armed with a gun during the carjacking — faces 34 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10, said Deputy District Attorney Mark Amador.

Rafael Ortiz, 23, and Raymundo Quezada, 25, face up to 16 years to life behind bars at the same sentencing hearing before Judge Jeffrey Fraser.

Two other men — Daniel Jasso and Arturo Galaraza — pleaded guilty before trial.

The male victim, Joshua Castrillon, testified at an earlier hearing that his then-girlfriend, Sylvia Arellano, originally covered for him after the couple were carjacked on Feb. 2, 2009.

Castrillon told Arellano that he would be going away for a few days and was in some trouble, but didn’t tell her he owed money on a drug debt.

According to court testimony, Castrillon was a known drug dealer who was responsible for a lost load of marijuana, and Jasso and Galaraza arranged for the other three defendants to pull off the carjacking in broad daylight.

Arellano testified that she and Castrillon were going to breakfast when three men wearing dark clothing and gloves jumped into her BMW. She said one carjacker had a Taser and another had a gun.

The carjackers drove onto eastbound Interstate 8, then suddenly jumped out of the car at the center divide, Arellano testified.

The defendants quickly hurdled the barrier and ran across the westbound lanes of the freeway and were later captured.

Police were pulled up on the scene first thought the couple were suspects, but realized they were victims of a crime, Arellano testified.