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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 26, 2017

Sureno Gang Member Sentenced To 100 Months In Prison For RICO Conspiracy And The Use Of Firearms In Furtherance Of Conspiracy

16th Gang Member Convicted in RICO and Federal Narcotics Trafficking Case as Part of Proactive FBI Operation

SAN JOSE – Mario Cardenas was sentenced yesterday to 100 months in prison based on his conviction on charges of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy and use of a firearm, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge, and represents the sixteenth 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. 

Cardenas, 22, of San Jose, pleaded guilty on February 22, 2017, to being a member of Sur Santos Pride (SSP) and to using a gun during an in relation to a crime of violence.  According to the plea agreement, Cardenas was a member of SSP for at least five years from January 2009 through January 2014.  Cardenas acknowledged SSP was made up of Sureño gang members and associates from San Jose who coordinated and engaged in criminal activity together.  The objective of SSP was to have its members and associates commit acts of violence including murder, attempted murder, and robbery for the benefit of the gang.  To carry out their violent crimes, the SSP gang regularly collected money for firearms for the gang.  Like other Sureño gangs in San Jose, SSP pledged their loyalty to the Mexican Mafia prison gang and followed its directives.  Cardenas admits in his plea agreement that he participated in meetings during which money was collected so SSP could buy more guns; SSP members decided to extort local pimps for money and to use violence (including assaults with firearms) to enforce SSP’s demands for money, if necessary; SSP members collected money to pay as “taxes” to the Mexican Mafia; and gang members decided which people would hold guns for the group. 

Cardenas was among 27 Sureño gang members in San Jose indicted on March 19, 2014, with various charges.  For his part in the scheme, Cardenas was charged with RICO conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5); conspiracy to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6); and use and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).  Pursuant to his plea agreement, Cardenas pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy and § 924(c) charges. 

The investigation leading to the indictment was part of the FBI’s crackdown on Sureño gangs in Santa Clara County.  Fifteen of the other charged defendant have already been sentenced as reflected in the chart below.  Several other defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming months.  Three defendants are in custody pending trial, and a status conference is scheduled for June 5, 2017. 

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 11/2/15to 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 6/5/17

DANIEL CORTEZ

a/k/a “Lil Temper”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentenced on 12/19/16 to 60 months in prison

FELIX HERNANDEZ CRISTOBAL a/k/a “Pato”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentenced on 12/19/16 to 80 months in prison

BENITO CANALES

a/k/a “Dopey”

RICO Conspiracy

Sentenced on 3/10/17 to 24 months in prison

DENNIS SANDOVAL

a/k/a “Criminal”

VICAR Attempted Murder

Sentenced on 1/23/17 to 108 months in prison

 

Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Meyer, Cynthia Frey, and Amie Rooney are prosecuting the case with the assistance of paralegals Nina Burney and Kevin Costello.   The case is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated June 22, 2017