Court docket information reveal interior workings of Nuestra Familia jail gang as 5 are sentenced in RICO case


SAN JOSE — 5 alleged Northern California gang members who’re serving life sentences in state prisons at the moment are heading to federal lockup associated to a conspiracy case designed to weaken the highly effective Nuestra Familia gang, new court docket information present.

The 5 males are amongst dozens of members of the identical jail gang the federal authorities has focused in an obvious technique to go after gang leaders and alleged heavy hitters and incarcerate them exterior of California, the place their affect is the strongest.

Steven “Esteban” Trujillo and Salvador “Gangster” Castro each obtained 88 months in federal jail, whereas Bryan “Turtle” Robledo, Alex “Sleepy” Yrigollen, and Edgardo “Huge Evil” Rodriguez every obtained 74 months, in keeping with court docket information. The sentences have been agreed to prematurely by prosecutors and the protection, a rarity in Northern California’s federal court docket system the place open plea offers are extra typical.

The sentences are the results of a large 2021 Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, operation and supply a glimpse into the interior workings of Nuestra Familia, a secretive jail gang with a military-like construction, run on a structure that emphasizes self-discipline and self-empowerment. In all, 14 separate homicide conspiracies are alleged, most of which have been hatched inside the Nuestra Familia’s huge community of Norteño gang subsets all through Northern California.

All 5 males pleaded responsible to the identical offense, racketeering conspiracy, however admitted to totally different homicide plots and drug trafficking conspiracies to learn the gang. Robledo and Castro admitted to a plot to kill a Nuestra Familia affiliate in 2018, in retaliation for the meant sufferer murdering a Norteño gang member with out authorization. Robledo was additionally concerned in plots to “take away” gang members via assaults or stabbings when he was a “regiment commander” at Nice Valley State Jail in 2018, in keeping with court docket information.

Trujillo, in the meantime, admitted to a 2015 homicide conspiracy that resulted in a person being repeatedly stabbed in California State Jail Solano in Vacaville. The sufferer — referred to solely by the initials “AV” — was focused for homicide due to falsely representing himself as a high-ranking gang member. Then, in 2016, when Trujillo was a “regiment commander” of a Salinas Valley State Jail yard, he ordered Yrigollen and Rodriguez to stab a person, “JM,” for “mistreating lower-ranking Norteños by stealing cellphones and issuing orders with out authority,” prosecutors mentioned in court docket papers. Each victims survived.

The entire defendants have been accused of taking part in roles in numerous drug trafficking schemes, inside and out of doors of jail, authorities allege.

“For instance, in a number of intercepted calls in 2017, Trujillo may be heard on his contraband cellphone coordinating the motion of hundreds of {dollars}’ value of heroin and methamphetamine in a number of counties in Northern California,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. They later added that in 2020 and 2021, Rodriguez organized related offers in “public areas in Alameda and San Mateo counties to promote a pound of methamphetamine at a time in alternate for $2,900 to $3,800 per pound.”

All of the defendants are already serving life for homicide besides Castro, who’s serving life for gun fees. All of them have spent the majority of their grownup lives in state jail, information present.

The racketeering crimes are portrayed in court docket information as a type of social climbing, self-discipline, or each. Rodriguez, 42, incarcerated since 2004 for the homicide of 19-year-old Hayward resident Francisco Javier Sanchez, was allegedly sponsored for membership within the Nuestra Familia after the tried homicide of “JM”.

Yrigollen, 53, has been in jail since age 22 for the 1991 homicide of Raymond Bustamonte in San Jose. For him, the tried homicide of “JM” was a method of undoing a previous demotion for involvement in an unauthorized assault, prosecutors mentioned.

Trujillo, 57, was convicted at age 30 of murdering his 20-year-old mistress Michelle Favela, of San Jose, in a case the place prosecutors mentioned he dismembered her physique and threw it into the water from a Santa Cruz pier. He was being thought-about for a place within the gang’s “interior council” on the time of the indictment.

Robledo, 49, was convicted within the 1992 homicide of 19-year-old Jesse Guerrero, the founding father of a Christian group who had devoted the ultimate years of his life to encouraging youths to steer clear of gangs. Throughout his 1993 trial, prosecutors mentioned he and two different gang members ambushed Guerrero in San Jose however portrayed Robledo because the set off man who fired eight pictures on the sufferer, in keeping with media studies.

By isolating the Nuestra Familia members in prisons exterior of California, authorities hope to restrict their affect and taper the gang’s unfold. However it may well even have the alternative impact, giving gangs a chance to recruit inside a brand new jail system. Within the Nineteen Seventies and 80s, as an illustration, the Aryan Brotherhood grew right into a nationwide group after a handful of California members have been despatched to federal jail.

Within the early 2000s, the Nuestra Familia was subjected to a equally large-scale RICO prosecution referred to as Operation Black Widow. The consequence was that the gang’s leaders have been incarcerated in prisons out of state. Nevertheless it didn’t take lengthy for a brand new management council to type, comprising males like David “DC” Cervantes, 74, and James “Conejo” Perez, 68, in keeping with authorities.

Cervantes and Perez now discover themselves as two of the lead defendants on this RICO case.

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