A former train engineer at the Port of Los Angeles was sentenced today to 36 months in federal prison for intentionally running a locomotive at full speed off the end of railroad tracks near a United States Navy hospital ship that was deployed to provide medical relief during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eduardo Moreno, 46, of San Pedro, was sentenced by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, who also ordered him to pay $755,880 in restitution.
Moreno pleaded guilty in December 2021 to one count of committing a terrorist attack and other violence against railroad carriers and mass transportation systems.
On March 31, 2020, Moreno drove a train at high speed, did not slow down near the end of the railroad track, and intentionally derailed the train off the tracks near the United States Naval Ship Mercy – a hospital ship then docked in the Port of Los Angeles.
No one was injured in the incident, and the Mercy was not harmed or damaged. The incident resulted in the train leaking a substantial amount – approximately 2,000 gallons – of diesel fuel, which required clean up by fire and other hazardous materials personnel. Clean-up crews recovered approximately 400 gallons of fuel from the fuel tank and the ground adjacent to the derailment, according to court documents.
Moreno caused $755,880 in damage because of the derailment.
In his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno acknowledged that he “did it,” saying that he was suspicious of the Mercy and believed it had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case. Moreno stated that he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack. While admitting to intentionally derailing and crashing the train, he said he knew it would bring media attention and “people could see for themselves,” referring to the Mercy, according to the affidavit.
In a second interview with FBI agents, Moreno stated that “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up,’” the affidavit states. “Moreno stated that he thought that the Mercy was suspicious and did not believe ‘the ship is what they say it’s for.’”
“[Moreno’s] offense was extraordinarily serious, and he used his unique access as a licensed train conductor to derail a multi-ton train toward a government hospital ship whose purpose was to treat vulnerable patients in the midst of a global pandemic,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port of Los Angeles Police investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Reema M. El-Amamy and Christine M. Ro of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, along with Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks of the Justice Department’s National Security Section’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted this case.