Federal Indictment Alleges Racketeering, Murder
By Norteno Gang Members in Dodge City
DODGE CITY, KAN. – A federal indictment unsealed today alleges Norteno gang members in Dodge City, Kan., were involved in racketeering and murder, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
The indictment names 23 defendants, including four who are charged with the June 8, 2009, murder of Israel Peralta and the attempted murder of three other men. Peralta was shot to death as he and his friends were sitting outside in a trailer park on the south side of Dodge City. One of the men with Peralta was wounded by gunfire during the attack.
"This indictment alleges the Nortenos operated a criminal enterprise in Dodge City," said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. "They engaged in drug trafficking, robbery and even murder for the purpose of expanding their power, wealth and influence."
The indictment alleges members of the Nortenos built the gang's reputation in Dodge City, defended its territory, and promoted its drug trafficking activities by creating a climate of fear through acts of violence and threats of violence. The defendants are charged under a federal law called the RICO Act (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). The indictment marks only the second time federal prosecutors in Kansas have filed charges under RICO and VICAR, violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity.
The indictment is based on a two-year investigation in which the Dodge City Police Department teamed up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other local, state and federal agencies to build the case.
"This indictment sends a message, " Grissom said. "Dodge City residents shall not live in fear. Our streets are not a war zone. Gangs of armed men will not be permitted to prey on the weak or to exchange fire while the rest of us scramble for cover."
"This investigation was initiated due to the ongoing violent criminal street gang problems occurring in Dodge City," said Craig Mellecker, Dodge City Police Chief. "The Dodge City Police Department is committed to taking enforcement action to rid our community of these violent street gangs. The citizens of Dodge City deserve to live in a safe community."
The 38-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Wichita includes counts alleging conspiracy to engage in racketeering, violent crimes in furtherance of racketeering, unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and other counts. Among the violent crimes alleged in the indictment are the following:
June 8, 2009: Murder of Israel Peralta.
June 8, 2009: Attempted murder of Mariano Sorano, Faustino Peralta and Roberto Arco.
June 8, 2009: Assault with a dangerous weapon upon Isidro Raleas-Velasquez.
Oct. 4, 2008: Attempted murder of Rumalda Hipolito and Abel Hernandez,.
March 29, 2010: Assault with a dangerous weapon upon Jose Arreola,
March 15, 2011: Attempted murder of Reyes Delira-Padilla.
March 30, 2011: Attempted murder of George Gonzalez.
April 30, 2011: Assault with a dangerous weapon upon Jose Santaella and Santos Gutierrez.
Aug. 27, 2011: Attempted murder of Gabriel Rivera and Carlos Ramirez.
July 2, 2008: Assault with a dangerous weapon upon Bryant Licon.
Feb. 5, 2012: Assault with a dangerous weapon upon Reyes Bocanegra.
Six counts of the indictment focus on alleged armed robberies. The indictment alleges Nortenos committed assaults with dangerous weapons and brandished firearms while robbing Guatemalan residents of Dodge City in their homes.
"The indictment alleges members of the Nortenos preyed on Guatemalan immigrants who work in the beef packing plants in Dodge City," Grissom said. "It is well known among the Nortenos that many of the Guatemalan workers do not use banks and try to avoid contact with law enforcement officers. They are smaller in stature and they are unlikely to be armed."
Michael P. Gleysteen, ATF Special Agent in Charge, said: "These indictments demonstrate ATF's commitment to ensuring that gangs involved in criminal enterprises, including the Nortenos, know they are not welcome in Dodge City. We will utilize all our resources to eradicate criminal gangs from our communities."
Defendants named in the indictment face varying charges depending on their alleged involvement in unlawful acts. The defendants include:
Jason Najera, 28, Dodge City, Kan., who is alleged to have been the leader of the Nortenos.
Pedro Garcia, 25, Dodge City, Kan., whose charges include murder.
Gonzalo Ramirez, 26, Dodge City, Kan., whose charges include murder.
Russell Worthey, 23, Dodge City, Kan., whose charges include murder.
Anthony Wright, 26, Dodge City, Kan., whose charges include murder.
Joshua Flores, 24, Dodge City, Kan.
Jesus Flores, 26, Dodge City, Kan.
Angel Cerda, 26, Dodge City, Kan.
Juan Torres, 21, Dodge City, Kan.
Alfredo Beltran-Ruiz, 21, Dodge City, Kan.
Donte Barnes, 20, Dodge City, Kan.
Jesus Sanchez, 22, Dodge City, Kan.
Enrique Gobin, 22, Dodge City, Kan.
Alfonso Banda-Hernandez, 19, Dodge City, Kan.
Andrew Gusman, 19, Dodge City, Kan.
Eusebio Sierra-Medrano, 31, Dodge City, Kan.
Jayson Vargas, 29, Dodge City, Kan,
Adam Flores, Dodge City, Kan.
Fabian Neave, 25, Dodge City, Kan.
Jesus Torres, 28, Dodge City, Kan.
Jose Neave, 22, Dodge City, Kan.
Hernan Quezada, 29, Dodge City, Kan.
Humberto Ortiz, 19, Dodge City, Kan.
Upon conviction crimes carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Violent crimes in furtherance of racketeering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000; or a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 depending on the type of violent crime.
Murder in furtherance of racketeering: A maximum penalty of death, or life in prison, and a fine up to $250,000.
Possession or discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence: Not less than five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Possession in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in furtherance of racketeering: A maximum penalty of three years and a fine up to $250,000.
Unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition after a felony conviction: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.
The Dodge City Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Also assisting were the Ford County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Smith are prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.