Skip to main content
Press Release

Salinas Norteño Gang Member Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For His Participation In Federal RICO Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Defendant Orchestrated and Participated in Stabbing Attacks Against Other Inmates in Monterey County Jail

SAN JOSE – Johnny Magdaleno, a/k/a “Soldier Boy,” was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for his federal RICO conspiracy conviction, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.  Magdaleno was a high-ranking Norteño gang member who orchestrated and participated in multiple attempted murders in the Monterey County Jail. 

Magdaleno, 33, of Salinas, pleaded guilty on February 13, 2020, to a RICO conspiracy charge and admitted in his plea agreement to being a member of the Nuestra Familia/Salinas Norteños, known legally as an enterprise.  The enterprise consisted of members and associates of the Nuestra Familia prison gang as well as Norteño street gangs in Salinas and the surrounding areas.  Norteño gang members pledge their allegiance and loyalty to Nuestra Familia and are instructed on its rules, rituals, and obligations.  Members agree to commit crimes such as murder, narcotics trafficking, and other acts of violence as a pattern of their racketeering activity.

Gang rules and discipline are maintained by threatening and assaulting those individuals who violate the rules or pose a threat to the organization.  Inside prisons and local jails, all members and associates of Nuestra Familia and the Norteños work together to maintain the structure and follow the rules of the enterprise.

In his plea agreement, Magdaleno admitted that while in jail he conspired with enterprise members to commit murder by approving “removals” of inmates as a means of enforcing the gang’s most important rules.  The term “removal” refers to a weapons-based assault designed to remove (from both the custodial housing unit and the gang itself) a member of the gang who committed a serious violation of the gang’s rules.  A removal is accomplished by having one or more “hitters” stab the victim and then having at least two “bombers” assault the target by punching and kicking the victim.  The purpose of the subsequent bombers’ beating is to inflict maximum injury on the victim while giving time to the hitters to wash blood off of themselves and to get rid of the weapons.
Magdaleno admitted that during the RICO conspiracy period he was a high-ranking member of the Norteños group called La Casa.  In that role, he had the power, authority, and responsibility to authorize removals in the Monterey County Jail.  Magdaleno admitted that while in custody at the Monterey County jail he committed the following removals:

o On December 2, 2012, Magdaleno orchestrated and directly participated in the removal of an inmate referred to as Victim-1 by stabbing Victim-1 in the chest and back over 20 times.  Immediately thereafter two bombers punched and kicked the victim to inflict maximum damage and to allow Magdaleno to escape from being caught with the stabbing weapon by guards. 

o On February 25, 2013, Magdaleno orchestrated and directly participated in the removal of Victim-2 by first giving marijuana to the victim so that he would let his guard down and then stabbing the victim in the head with a shank made from an electrical outlet plate sharpened into a stabbing instrument.  Three bombers then punched and kicked the victim to allow Magdaleno to take the shank away. Magdaleno disposed of the shank and returned to join the bombers in beating Victim-2. 

o On April 29, 2013, Magdaleno orchestrated the removal of Victim-3 by falsely assuring him that he would not be harmed if he returned to his housing pod and by directing others also to assure the victim of his safety.  During the ensuing removal, Victim-3 was stabbed in the head several times by a hitter using a metal shank and punched and kicked by bombers to allow the hitter to dispose of the shank.    

o On November 13, 2013, Magdaleno orchestrated the removal of Victim-6 that resulted in the hitter stabbing Victim-6 in the head, torso, and arms approximately ten times and two bombers setting upon the victim, punching and kicking him. 

o On April 14, 2014, Magdaleno orchestrated and directly participated in the removal of Victim-7 in the Monterey County Jail Main Yard by stabbing the inmate in the head and thereafter joining two bombers in punching and kicking the victim.

Magdaleno further admitted to overseeing and actively participating in a narcotics distribution conspiracy within Monterey County Jail.

Magdaleno and 14 other Norteño gang members were indicted by a federal grand jury on September 27, 2018.  They were charged with one count of a RICO racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); one count of conspiracy to commit attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5); and one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6).  In addition, some of the defendants, but not Magdaleno, were charged with attempted murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) and assault with a dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3). 

To date, 11 of the charged defendants have pleaded guilty and nine have been sentenced, while four defendants remain scheduled for a trial set to commence on August 30, 2021.  Each of the 11 defendants listed below pleaded guilty to a RICO conspiracy, and their status is as follows:


Date of Sentencing


JOHNNY MAGDALENO, a/k/a “Soldier Boy”

November 10, 2020

30 years in prison


a/k/a “Speedy”

November 17, 2020

TBD – pending sentencing

RAMON MONTOYA, a/k/a “Ray Ray”

October 27, 2020

10 years in prison


a/k/a “Redwood”

March 3, 2020

156 months in prison


a/k/a “Chino”

October 13, 2020

10 years in prison

CARLOS CERVANTES, a/k/a “Lil Huero”

September 22, 2020

10 years in prison


a/k/a “Doughboy”

January 7, 2020

7 years in prison


a/k/a “Castro”

July 14, 2020

7 years in prison


a/k/a “T-Bone”

May 11, 2020

7 years in prison


a/k/a “Chucky”

January 5, 2021

TBD – pending sentencing


a/k/a “Bimbo”

August 18, 2020

10 years in prison

The sentence for Magdaleno was handed down today by The Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Court Judge, following a guilty plea on one count of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d).   Judge Freeman also sentenced the defendant to a five year period of supervised release following release from prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Claudia Quiroz and Stephen Meyer are prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI with assistance from the Salinas Police Department, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Updated November 10, 2020