SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Three members of the Nuestra Familia prison gang pleaded guilty to charges related to distributing drugs to fellow Monterey County Jail inmates and their roles in "removals."
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, referred to as hitters, stab the victim, and at least two others, known as bombers, punch and kick the victim without weapons.
Johnny Magdaleno, also known as Soldier Boy; Rodney Luis Romero, also known as Speedy, and Carlos Cervantes, also known as Lil Huero or Doug pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges for their roles the Nuestra Familia/Salinas Norteños Enterprise, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The pleas were announced in a statement released by U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson and John F. Bennett, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's San Francisco Field Division.
The Enterprise is made up of members and associates of the Nuestra Familia prison gang and the Norteños street gangs in and around Salinas. According to prosecutors, members and associates of the Enterprise agreed to commit murders, drug trafficking and other violent acts through racketeering. Members of the Enterprise were reportedly required to follow gang rules, and those who violate them are assaulted and threatened.
Magdaleno, Romero and Cervantes said in their plea agreements that they participated in distributing drugs to other inmates and attacking those who violated gang rules Friday, according to the Department of Justice.
Magdaleno told prosecutors that he organized four removals at the Monterey County Jail and was a hitter in two. In one instance, Magdaleno said he was a hitter in an incident on Dec. 2, 2012. He told prosecutors that he stabbed the other inmate in the chest and back more than 20 times, and he was able to escape while the bombers were punching and kicking the victim. The other time he participated as a hitter was Feb. 23, 2013. He said he gave the other inmate marijuana to help him let his guard down. He then stabbed the victim, got rid of the shank he used while the victim was being punched and kicked and then joined the others in beating the victim.
Romero admitted to approving a removal two days later on Feb. 25. He told prosecutors that the hitter stabbed the inmate in the head before three bombers started the kicking and punching. He said he helped plan two others as well on April 29 and Oct. 23 of 2013. In April, the hitter stabbed the victim in the head with a metal shank. In October, the hitter stabbed the victim in the neck with a victim made out of plexiglass.
Cervantes said he was the hitter who stabbed the victim in the head on April 29, 2013 and was a bomber in the removal on Feb. 25, according to the Justice Department.
The three were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2018 along with several others and charged with racketeering conspiracy. The three were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. Romero was charged with attempted murder in aid of racketeering and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.
Magdaleno, Romero and Cervantes pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy charge and admitted that murder was an object of the conspiracy. If they comply with their plea agreements, the other charges will be dismissed at their sentencing.
Magdaleno is facing 30 years in prison that will run concurrently with sentences for other state convictions, and his sentencing is set for June 23, 2020. Romero is facing 18 years in prison at his sentencing on June 23, 2020. Cervantes is facing 10 years in prison at his sentencing on May 19, 2020.
Others who have pleaded guilty to crimes related to the Enterprise include:
- Albert Moreno, aka Doughboy- Sentenced to seven years in prison
- Michael James Rice, aka Redwood- Sentencing scheduled for March 3, 2020
- Jeffrey Lopez, aka T-Bone- Sentencing scheduled for March 17, 2020
- Juan Alvarez, aka Chucky- Sentencing scheduled for March 31, 2020
- Ramon Montoya, aka Little Ray- Sentencing scheduled for March 31, 2020
- Erik Lopez, aka Bimbo- Sentencing scheduled for April 7, 2020
- Alejo Alex Alegre, IV, aka Chino- Sentencing scheduled for May 5, 2020