Two members of the Nuestra Familia prison gang pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges and admitted to involvement in violent attacks on other Monterey County Jail inmates, according to Bay Area station KPIX.
U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett said in a joint press release that 35-year-old Michael Rice, also known as Redwood, and 26-year-old Albert Moreno, also known as Doughboy, pleaded guilty to one count of violating the federal RICO Act.
Those charged with violating the RICO Act are suspected of a pattern of racketeering or collection of unlawful debt, according to the Department of Justice.
“Defendants Rice and Moreno conspired and racketeered while in county jail to punish gang members who did not follow gang rules,” Anderson said. “Their conduct underscores the risks of depending on county jails to deter and punish serious criminal offenders. I hope and trust that a federal sentence will send a stronger message to these and other would-be offenders.”
Rice and Moreno are scheduled to be sentenced in January 2020, and both are facing at most a statutory sentence of life in federal prison, five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
According to the plea agreements, Rice and Moreno said between Dec. 2, 2012, and April 14, 2014, they were members of the Nuestra Familia/Salinas Norteos Enterprise. The enterprise includes members of the Nuestra Familia gang and the Norteo street gangs in and around Salinas.
The two men admitted to participating in violent attacks and other crimes to extend the control and criminal activities of the Nuestra Familia gang. In the plea agreements, they also admitted to giving drugs to other inmates at the jail and their roles in “removals” to enforce gang rules while in jail.
Prosecutors said a “removal” is a violent attack designed to remove a member of the gang who violated the gang’s rules from the housing unit and the gang itself. It is done by having one or more people stab the victim, and at least two others punch and kick the victim without weapons.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office worked with the FBI on this case.
Sheriff Steve Bernal said, “We are proud to have partnered with our federal partners on this important investigation that will improve the safety of our entire community.”