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OAKLAND – United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced the guilty plea of Elias Gonzalez in a Nuestra Familia racketeering case.
Elias Gonzalez, a/k/a “Hammer”, 30, of Mabton, Washington, pleaded guilty on June 7, 2013, to conspiring to conduct the affairs of a racketeering enterprise, Nuestra Familia, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(d). According to court documents, Nuestra Familia is a violent Latino prison gang based within the California and Federal prison systems whose members exert control over street-level Norteño gang members engaged in drug trafficking and violent crime.
In his guilty plea, Gonzalez admitted that since 2005, he was a member of a Norteño gang in Yakima, Washington, and operated under the direction of members of Nuestra Familia in the Northern District of California. As part of his participation in the racketeering conspiracy, Gonzalez moved portions of the proceeds of his drug trafficking to Nuestra Familia members’ prison accounts. Gonzalez admitted that the racketeering conspiracy involved acts of violence, including assault and murder, against rival gang members and others who defied or betrayed Nuestra Familia, such as individuals who cooperated with law enforcement. The maximum penalties for his crimes include life in prison and $250,000 in fines.
This case is part of Operation Red Dawn, an investigation targeting members and associates of Nuestra Familia,. Operation Red Dawn is an investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets East Bay Task Force, the Oakland Police Department, the Red Bluff Police Department, the Campbell Police Department, the San Jose Police Department, the Livermore Police Department, and the Special Services Unit of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The case is being prosecuted by the Strike Force and Violent Crimes Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office.
Gonzalez is the third of the eleven defendants in this case to plead guilty. On April 5, 2013, Peter Cuen, a/k/a “Mijo,” and Peggy Larez also pleaded guilty to conspiring to conduct the affairs of Nuestra Familia, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(d). Cuen pleaded guilty to an additional charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of that conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). Sentencing for Cuen and Larez is scheduled for August 22, 2013, while sentencing for Gonzalez is scheduled for September 19, 2013.