Church leader arrested on suspicion of drug violations in Riverside County
Anthony Martinez Garduno, a 51-year-old church leader who made headlines three months ago when he was shot during a reported burglary attempt at his church in Home Gardens, was back in the news today after he was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs from his church, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.
On Dec. 21, deputies from the Jurupa Valley Station responded to a call reporting sexual crimes committed against a child at Our Lady of Tepeyac Church, authorities said. The church is at 13462 Magnolia Ave. in the unincorporated Home Gardens area, which borders Corona.
The caller told authorities that Garduno had sexually assaulted him at the church when he was 17 years old. He also said that he knew of other sexual assaults by Garduno against boys at the church and that methamphetamine was being sold there.
On Tuesday, investigators executed a search warrant at the church and located “evidence indicative of Garduno selling narcotics from the church.” Investigators said they also “located evidence of possible sexual assaults having occurred at the church.”
Garduno was arrested and booked on suspicion of numerous drug violations, in addition to receiving stolen goods. He is being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center.
In September, Garduno was wounded in a shooting during a robbery attempt outside his church, authorities said. He was taken to a local hospital, where he recovered. At the time, he reported to police that he had encountered four juveniles when he was shot. Garduno, who calls himself a bishop, and his church are not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
-- Ruben Vives
Photo: Anthony Martinez Garduno. Credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Department