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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

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

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 – Erik Lopez, a/k/a Bimbo, and Alejo Alex Alegre, IV, a/k/a Chino, 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. Five additional members of the prison gang have pleaded guilty to related conspiracy charges, one of whom Judge Freeman sentenced today to seven years in prison.

According to the plea agreements, between December 2, 2012, and April 14, 2014, Lopez, 25, and Alegre, 28, 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, Lopez and Alegre 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.  

Alegre admitted that he participated in the November 13, 2013, removal of a victim from one of the housing units of the Monterey County Jail. Alegre admitted that he was the hitter for the removal and repeatedly stabbed the victim in the head, torso, and arms. Alegre acknowledged that immediately after the victim was stabbed, two bombers began punching and kicking the victim to allow Alegre to escape being caught by guards with the stabbing weapon. 

Lopez admitted that he participated in the December 2, 2012, removal of a victim from one of the housing units at the Monterey County Jail. Lopez admitted that he was a bomber in the attack and that he and another bomber punched and kicked the victim to inflict the maximum damage possible and to allow the hitter to escape. Lopez acknowledged that the victim was stabbed in the chest and back over 20 times by the hitter. Lopez also admitted being a bomber on the February 25, 2013, removal of a victim. Lopez punched and kicked the victim after a hitter stabbed the victim in the head.

On September 27, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Lopez, Alegre, and several other defendants with racketeering conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). Both Lopez and Alegre 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). Alegre was also 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 aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3). Lopez was also charged with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). 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 hearing for Lopez for April 7, 2020, and the sentencing hearing for Alegre for May 5, 2020. Pursuant to the terms of their plea agreements, both Lopez and Alegre 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.  

The following additional defendants have pleaded guilty to crimes as part of the criminal Enterprise and are scheduled to be sentenced in the case:

Name

Charges

Sentencing

Michael James Rice a/k/a Redwood

Racketeering Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)

Scheduled for March 3, 2020

Jeffrey Lopez, a/k/a T-Bone

Racketeering Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) 

Scheduled for March 17, 2020

Juan Alvarez, a/k/a Chucky

Racketeering Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) 

Scheduled for March 31, 2020 

Ramon Montoya, a/k/a Little Ray

Racketeering Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)

Scheduled for March 31, 2020

Additionally, today, Judge Freeman sentenced Alberto Moreno, a/k/a Doughboy, to seven years in prison for his role in the criminal RICO Enterprise. Moreno, 26, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy on November 12, 2019. In his plea agreement, Moreno admitted that he was a member of the Enterprise and that he participated in the distribution of narcotics to other inmates at Monterey County Jail. Moreno also admitted that he participated as a bomber in an April 29, 2013, attack, in which the victim was stabbed in the head by the hitter. 

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 January 8, 2020