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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Over A Dozen Alleged Gang Members Charged With Federal Racketeering Conspiracy, Attempted Murder And Assault In Aid Of Racketeering, And Other Crimes

Conspirators Allegedly Committed Violent Acts to Maintain Discipline And Punish Transgressions of Gang Rules And Trafficked Drugs In And Out of County Jail

SAN JOSE- A federal grand jury indicted multiple Salinas-based gang members for a broad range of racketeering crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder and assault in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The indictment handed down on October 3, 2013, and unsealed today alleges that the defendants are all gang members who committed crimes in and out of Monterey County Jail for the benefit of enhancing the wealth and reputation of the gang and themselves.  

“As alleged, the Nuestra Familia prison gang and the Norteño street gangs have terrorized Monterey County residents for much too long,” said U.S. Attorney Tse.  “The gangs have targeted anyone, even in jail, who does not obey their violent rules.  We are thankful for the efforts of our federal and local partners to bring to justice individuals responsible for these alleged horrific criminal acts within our prison system.”

“In collaboration with our partners at the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and the Monterey County Jail, we will continue to take action against groups who use violence, fear, and criminal behavior for their own power and gain,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, John F. Bennett. “It is important for Monterey County and Salinas area residents to know that the FBI will not tolerate the presence of organized criminal enterprises in our neighborhoods.  We will not allow fear or intimidation have a place in our communities.”

“This was an exhaustive and thorough 6-year effort by the FBI,” said Monterey Sheriff Steve Bernal, “We are proud to have partnered with our federal partners on this important investigation that will improve the safety of our entire community.”  

According to the indictment, the defendants engaged in racketeering for the purpose of preserving the power, territory, reputation, and profits of the Nuestra Familia/Salinas Norteños Enterprise.  The indictment describes how members, when not incarcerated, compete for control of lucrative illegal activities, such as drug dealing and robbery.  Such competition leads to violence both on the streets and within custodial facilities.  The indictment also describes how the gang developed a structure, philosophy, rules, rituals, and obligations for its members within custodial facilities in Monterey County.  One rule includes the general principle that once an individual reaches a certain status within the gang, death, under most circumstances, is the only way to withdraw.   

Nuestra Familia sees Monterey County as a stronghold for the gang.  The indictment describes how the gang has targeted Monterey County for crimes, most specifically in and near Salinas.  For example, Norteño cliques in the county fight with rival street gangs, and to a lesser extent other Norteño cliques, for control of territory in which to conduct narcotics trafficking and other crimes, as well as to recruit and influence non-gang members.  

Inside the Monterey County Jail, Norteños work together to maintain the structure and follow the rules of Nuestra Familia without regard to what specific clique they are from.  Nuestra Familia has come to regard inmates at Monterey County Jail as potential new members for the criminal organization.  Norteños in Monterey County Jail are separated from other inmates—in part due to the Norteños predatory nature, and in part because Nuestra Familia rules prohibit them from preying upon each other—and Nuestra Familia now regards the jail as one of the better “training” facilities for new members.  The gang considers inmates in the jail well-regimented, disciplined, and aligned with Nuestra Familia values.  

In this case, the defendants have been charged with either directing or participating in assaults, attempted murders, and drug trafficking within Monterey County Jail as follows:
 

Johnny Magdaleno, a/k/a “Soldier Boy,”
Vincent Gerald Garcia, a/k/a “Chente,”
Rodney Luis Romero, a/k/a “Speedy,”
Michael James Rice, a/k/a “Redwood,”
Alberto Cervantes, a/k/a “Littles”
Alejo Alex Alegre, IV, a/k/a “Chino,”
Carlos Cervantes, a/k/a “Lil Huero,” a/k/a “Doug,”
Alberto Moreno, a/k/a “Doughboy,”
Steven Anthony Dorado, a/k/a “Castro,” a/k/a “Chinaman,”
Michael Abraham Cazares, a/k/a “Lil Rhino,”
Jeffrey Lopez, a/k/a “T-Bone,”
Juan Alvarez, a/k/a “Chucky,”
Erik Lopez, a/k/a “Bimbo,” and
Jorge Jasso
 

The indictment describes the crimes in which each defendant has participated, leadership positions within the gang, and a description of the defendants’ gang-related tattoos.  The indictment centers largely on seven “removals,” by which inmates inflict violence on other inmates, often for violations of gang rules. The purpose of a removal is often to literally remove an inmate from a prison housing unit by killing that inmate or inflicting as much bodily harm as possible.  Removals typically require authorization from gang leadership and members are instructed how to perpetrate the violent crime—members are instructed how and where a “hitter” should stab a victim in order to inflict as much injury as possible, and how “bombers” should follow up by assaulting the victim with hands and feet to inflict additional injuries and to distract prison guards long enough to allow a bomber to discard weapons and change out of blood-stained clothes.  

In this case, the following removals are alleged:

(1)       Removal of Victim 1 on December 2, 2012 (Victim 1 was stabbed at least 21 times in the chest and back with a jail-made shank for violating gang rules):  

  • Johnny “Soldier Boy” Magdaleno 
  • Erik “Bimbo” Lopez 
  • Jorge Jasso
  • Alberto “Littles” Cervantes 

(2)       Removal of Victim 2 on February 25, 2013 (Victim 2 was stabbed in the head and face):    

  •  Rodney “Speedy” Romero 
  • Alberto “Littles” Cervantes
  •  Johnny “Soldier Boy” Magdaleno 
  • Erik “Bimbo” Lopez 
  • Jorge Jasso
  • Michael “Redwood” Rice

(3)       Removal of Victim 3 on April 29, 2013 (Victim 3 was stabbed in the head, hands, arms, and wrists):  

  •  Johnny “Soldier Boy” Magdaleno 
  • Vincent “Chente” Garcia 
  • Rodney “Speedy” Romero 
  • Michael “Redwood” Rice
  • Carlos “Doug/Huero” Cervantes 
  • Alberto “Doughboy” Moreno 
  • Steven “Castro/Chinaman” Dorado
  • Jorge Jasso 

(4)       Removal of Victim 4 on July 10, 2013 (Victim 4 was stabbed in the face, head, and neck):  

  • Michael “Little Rhino” Cazares 
  • Jeffrey “T-Bone” Lopez 

(5)       Removal of Victim 5 on October 23, 2013 (Victim 5 was stabbed in the neck):  

  • Vincent “Chente” Garcia 
  • Rodney “Speedy” Romero 
  • Juan “Chucky” Alvarez

(6)       Removal of Victim 6 on November 13, 2013 (Victim 6 was stabbed in the head, torso, and arms approximately 10 times):  

  • Alejo “Chino” Alegre 

(7)       Removal of Victim 7 on April 14, 2014:  

  • Vincent “Chente” Garcia

In sum, the charges pending against each defendant are as follows:
 

Defendant

Age

Charges

Maximum Statutory Penalty

All Defendants

 

 

Racketeering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)

Life in prison

5 years of supervised release

$250,000 fine

JOHNNY MAGDALENO

31

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

VINCENT GERALD GARCIA

51

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

Attempted Murder (of Victim 5) in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Assault (of Victim 5) With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

20 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Attempted Murder (of Victim 7) in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Assault (of Victim 7) With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3)

20 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

RODNEY LUIS ROMERO

 

33

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

Attempted Murder (of Victim 5) in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Assault (of Victim 5) With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

20 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

MICHAEL JAMES RICE

34

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

ALBERTO CERVANTES

34

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

 

 

 

 

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

ALEJO ALEX ALEGRE, IV

26

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

Attempted Murder (of Victim 6) in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Assault (of Victim 6) With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3)

20 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

CARLOS CERVANTES

30

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

ALBERTO MORENO

25

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

STEVEN ANTHONY DORADO

27

 

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

MICHAEL ABRAHAM CAZARES

26

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

JEFFREY LOPEZ

26

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

JUAN ALVAREZ

37

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

Attempted Murder (of Victim 5) in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Assault (of Victim 5) With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3)

20 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

ERIK LOPEZ

24

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition

18 U.S.C. § 922(g)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

JORGE JASSO

 

26

Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

10 years in prison

3 years supervised release

$250,000 fine

Conspiracy to Commit Assault With a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6)

3 years in prison

1 year supervised release

$250,000 fine

 

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  

In addition, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI with assistance from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Salinas Police Department.  

Updated October 11, 2018