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Press Release

Two Associates Of Nuestra Familia Prison Gang Plead Guilty To Federal Rico Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Conspirators Admit Their Respective Roles in Violent Crimes in Monterey County Jail to Maintain Discipline of Gang Members and Punish Transgressions of Gang Rules

SAN JOSE- Juan Alvarez, a/k/a Chucky, and Ramon Montoya, a/k/a Little Ray, pleaded guilty today to racketeering conspiracy charges for their respective roles as associates of the Nuestra Familia prison gang, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The guilty pleas were accepted by the Honorable Beth L. Freeman, United States District Judge.

“Defendants Juan Alvarez and Ramon Montoya admitted that they have committed heinous crimes for the purpose of enhancing their membership in the Norteño prison gang,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “This case should serve as yet another reminder to people tempted by the allure of gang membership that gangs provide no benefits for their members other than long prison terms and lives of unpredictable violence.”

“Violent street gangs are a plague to our society,” said FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. “They prey on and terrorize our citizens and lay waste to our communities. These guilty pleas stand as a step towards ensuring justice is served and as a reminder that such behavior will not be tolerated.”

According to the plea agreements, between December 2, 2012, and April 14, 2014, Alvarez, 39, and Montoya, 36, both were members of the Nuestra Familia/Salinas Norteños Enterprise. The Enterprise consisted of members and associates of the Nuestra Familia prison gang as well as Norteño street gangs in Salinas, Calif., and the surrounding areas. Members and associates of the Enterprise agreed to commit crimes such as murder, narcotics trafficking, and other acts of violence through a pattern of racketeering activity. Norteño gang members pledge their allegiance and loyalty to Nuestra Familia and are instructed on its rules, rituals, and obligations. Gang rules and discipline are maintained by assaulting and threatening 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 Norteños work together to maintain the structure and follow the rules of the Enterprise.

In their plea agreements, Alvarez and Montoya admit to participating in the distribution of narcotics to other inmates at Monterey County Jail. Also, the plea agreements describe the roles of the defendants in “removals” as a means of violently enforcing the most important of the gang’s rules while they were in the jail. The term “removal” refers to a violent attack 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 without weapons. The purpose of the subsequent beating is to inflict upon the victim maximum damage while giving the hitters time to wash themselves and get rid of weapons.  

Montoya and Alvarez both admitted that they participated in the October 23, 2013, removal of a victim from one of the housing units at the Monterey County Jail. Montoya admitted that he transmitted the order from the Norteño leadership that the removal was authorized.  Alvarez admitted that he was a hitter in the attack and that he used a weapon made out of plexiglass to stab the victim in the neck. Both Montoya and Alvarez acknowledged that immediately after the victim was stabbed, two bombers began punching and kicking the victim to allow Alvarez to escape being caught by guards with the stabbing weapon. Montoya also admitted being a bomber on the November 13, 2013, removal of a victim. Montoya punched and kicked the victim after a hitter stabbed the victim approximately ten times. The victim was stabbed in the head, torso, and arms before Montoya began punching and kicking the victim to inflict the maximum damage possible.

On September 27, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Alvarez, Montoya, and several other defendants with racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). Both Alvarez and Montoya also were charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5), and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6). Both defendants pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy charge, wherein they admitted that murder was an object of the conspiracy. If they comply with their plea agreements, the additional charges will be dismissed at sentencing.

Judge Freeman scheduled the sentencing hearings for both defendants for March 31, 2020. The defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Pursuant to the terms of their plea agreements, both Montoya and Alvarez have agreed that a reasonable and appropriate disposition of their respective cases would include a term of imprisonment of 10 years. However, any sentence will 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.  

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Claudia A. 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 December 4, 2019