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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 28, 2016

San Jose Gang Leader Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Racketeering Conspiracy, Drug Trafficking, And Use Of Firearms

12th Gang Member Convicted in RICO and Federal Narcotics Trafficking Case as Part of Proactive FBI Operation

SAN JOSE – Jesus Armendariz was sentenced today to 15 years in prison based on his conviction on charges of racketeering conspiracy, distribution of crystal methamphetamine, and use of a firearm, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence was imposed by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge, and represents the twelfth conviction resulting from a proactive operation by the FBI’s Santa Clara County Violent Gang Task Force targeting gang members committing violent crimes and selling methamphetamine in San Jose. 

The sentence follows a guilty plea entered July 28, 2016.  According to the plea agreement, Armendariz admitted being a Sureño gang member from at least January of 2009 to at least January of 2014.  Armendariz acknowledged performing the functions of a gang leader and liaison for the Mexican Mafia prison gang to Sureño gangs in San Jose, including the Sur Santos Pride (SSP) gang.  The SSP gang committed acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, and robbery, for the benefit of the gang.  Like other Sureño gangs in San Jose, SSP pledged their loyalty to the Mexican Mafia prison gang and followed its directives. 

Armendariz admitted that he conspired with SSP members (as well as other Sureño gangs) to carry out the violent precepts of the Mexican Mafia through a pattern of criminal racketeering activity.  Armendariz acknowledged that part of his role was to fuel the Sureño gang members with guns and crystal methamphetamine provided by the Mexican Mafia.  The defendant also collected money from each Sureño gang in San Jose on behalf of the Mexican Mafia, sent that money on to the Mexican Mafia, and provided the Sureño gangs in San Jose with the directives of the Mexican Mafia relating to narcotics trafficking, gang operations, and other instructions to further the criminal goals of the Mexican Mafia prison gang.

Armendariz’s tattoo shop was raided by the FBI on January 30, 2014.  At that time, the FBI recovered over 700 grams (net/actual weight) of crystal methamphetamine, three handguns, and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Armendariz was among 27 Sureño gang members in San Jose indicted on March 18, 2014, with various charges, including Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) Murder Conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5); VICAR Murder and Attempted Murder, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1) and (a)(5); distribution of crystal methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841; and using and possessing firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922 and 924(c).  Pursuant to his plea agreement, Armendariz pleaded guilty to one count each of racketeering conspiracy; use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence; and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Davila also ordered defendant to serve 5 years of supervised release and pay a $300 special assessment.  Defendant currently is in custody and will begin serving his sentence immediately.

The investigation leading to the indictment was part of the FBI’s crackdown on Sureño gangs in Santa Clara County.  Eleven of the other charged defendants already have been sentenced as reflected in the chart below.  Five other defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in the next two months.  Six defendants are pending trial set for May 2017, and a status conference is scheduled for December 15, 2016. 

Defendant

Charges

Sentence

JOSE DAVID SANCHEZ a/k/a “Joker”

Distribution of Methamphetamine

Sentenced on 10/21/14 to 77 months in prison

JUAN CHAVEZ

a/k/a “Dukester”

Distribution of Methamphetamine

Sentenced on 10/30/14 to 77 months in prison

ANDY LAMB LOPEZ a/k/a “Solo”

Felon in Possession of Firearm

Sentenced on 2/23/15 to 45 months in prison

MIGUEL MIRANDA

a/k/a “Payaso”

Distribution of Methamphetamine

Sentenced on 2/23/15 to 120 months in prison

MARIO GUERRERO

a/k/a “Lil Junior”

Distribution of Methamphetamine

Sentenced on 8/27/15 to 85 months in prison

FRANCISCO RAMIREZ a/k/a “Cisco”

Distribution of Methamphetamine

Sentenced on 11/2/15 to 46 months in prison

JORGE RODRIGUEZ a/k/a “Brownie”

RICO Conspiracy and VICAR Attempted Murder

Sentenced on 2/1/16 to 160 months in prison

RICARDO MONTOYA

a/k/a “Necio”

RICO Conspiracy and VICAR Attempted Murder

Sentenced on 5/16/16 to 108 months in prison

JOSE MORENO

a/k/a “Lil Chocolate”

RICO Conspiracy and Use of a Firearm

Sentenced on 8/4/16 to 160 months in prison

MARCOS LOMELI

a/k/a “Cookie”

RICO Conspiracy and Use of a Firearm

Sentenced on 9/26/16 to 127 months in prison

FERNANDO CRUZ

a/k/a “Nano”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentenced on 11/10/16 to 87 months in prison

FRANCISCO FONSECA

a/k/a “Griffo”

RICO Conspiracy, Distribution of Methamphetamine, Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Sentencing Scheduled for 12/12/16

DANIEL CORTEZ

a/k/a “Lil Temper”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentencing Scheduled for 12/18/16

FELIX HERNANDEZ CRISTOBAL a/k/a “Pato”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentencing Scheduled for 12/19/16

BENITO CANALES

a/k/a “Dopey”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentencing Scheduled for 12/20/16

DENNIS SANDOVAL

a/k/a “Criminal”

VICAR Attempted Murder

Sentencing Scheduled for 1/9/17

Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Meyer, Cynthia Frey, and Amie Rooney are prosecuting the case.   The case is the result of an investigation by the FBI.
 

Topic: 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated December 27, 2016