United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Three Nuestra Familia Gang Members Sentenced For Drug Trafficking
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Docket #: 2:07-cr-0248 WBS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that on Monday, May 7, 2012, United States District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced Marco Anthony Gomez Jr., aka Silky, 33, of San Francisco; Benjamin Santos Castro, aka Reaper, 35, of San Francisco; and Edward Fuentes, 32, of Merced, to the following prison terms:
Gomez — 25 years
Castro — 25 years
Edward Fuentes — 20 years.
These sentencings are the latest in the ongoing prosecution of the widespread drug trafficking throughout Northern California by members and associates of the Nuestra Familia (NF) between 2003 and 2007. The NF is a violent Hispanic prison gang based in the California and federal prison systems. The gang exerts control over street level Norteño gang members engaged in drug trafficking and violent crime.
According to evidence introduced during a three-day evidentiary hearing held in December 2011 and a written order issued by Judge Shubb on May 1, 2012, Gomez was a regiment commander for the NF’s San Francisco regiment in 2004 and 2005. In that capacity, Gomez was responsible for overseeing the NF’s trafficking of multiple pounds of methamphetamine and multiple kilograms of cocaine into the San Francisco Bay Area. Similarly, Castro held the NF’s San Francisco regiment commander position during 2006 and 2007, and engaged in large-scale drug trafficking on behalf of the organization. Finally, Fuentes held the position of regiment commander for the NF’s Merced regiment between 2006 and 2007.
He was held responsible for approximately seven pounds of methamphetamine trafficked during the conspiracy and held authority over other Norteño gang members committing crimes within Merced County during that time period.
Two Successful Jury Trials
The initial indictment of 25 defendants in June of 2007 led to two jury trials and the convictions of five defendants on multiple counts of drug trafficking. In the 2009 trial, one defendant demanded a speedy trial, was convicted, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In the 2010 trial, four of the NF’s leadership defendants were each convicted on all of the counts in the indictment after a contentious four-month jury trial. There have also been three recent guilty pleas in a January 2011 indictment.
Significant Sentences and Guilty Pleas
The initial indictment also resulted in a number of significant sentences:
April 21, 2010, Manuel Gauna was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison.
December 13, 2010, Richard Mendoza was sentenced to 17½ years in prison.
February 22, 2011, Bismark Ocampo was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
May 25, 2011, the trial defendants were sentenced to the following:
Larry Amaro — 40 years in prison.
Ernest Killinger — 36½ years in prison.
Gerardo Mora — more than 33 years in prison.
Jason Stewart-Hanson — 25 years in prison.
July 25, 2011, Gabriel Caracheo — 25 years in prison.
July 27, 2011, David Ramirez — 15½ years in prison.
September 26, 2011, Fernando Villalpando — 20 years in prison.
October 17, 2011, Faustino Gonzalez — 15½ years in prison.
November 28, 2011, Oscar Campos-Padilla — 14 years in prison.
The 2011 indictment has resulted in the following convictions:
April 9, 2012, Juan Gallegos pleaded guilty, sentencing: July 9, 2012.
April 23, 2012, Danny Pereda and Rebecca Guzman pleaded guilty. The plea agreement for Pereda calls for a sentence of 20 years in prison, while the plea agreement for Guzman calls for a sentence of 14 years in prison. Sentencing for Guzman is set for July 23, 2012, and sentencing for Pereda is set for August 6, 2012.
These cases were part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation. The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the FBI’s Stockton Violent Crime Task Force, the San Joaquin County Metropolitan Narcotics Task Force, the Stockton Police Department, the Salinas Police Department, the Watsonville Police Department, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jason Hitt and William S. Wong are prosecuting the case.
When prosecuted in federal court, drug traffickers typically receive much harsher sentences. In addition to the longer sentences imposed, unlike state court prisoners who are released early on parole, there is no early release on parole in the federal system.