Two men have pleaded guilty to federal charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder in connection to their task as enforcers of Nuestra Familia gang rules while they were inmates in Monterey County Jail.
As revealed in the plea agreement signed on Nov. 12, the men—Alberto Moreno, 26, known as “Doughboy,” and Michael Rice, 35, who is known as “Redwood”—admitted to distributing narcotics to fellow inmates and participating in the “removal” of Norteño gang members who violated gang rules. “Removal” refers to the violent attack of a gang member by “hitters” and “bombers,” who stab the victim and then assault them by punching and kicking. The purpose of “removal” is to literally remove inmates from the housing unit for potentially violating Nuestra Familia rules against things like becoming an informant, cooperating with law enforcement, committing violence against another Norteño without permission or failing to obey direct orders from higher-ups in gang leadership.
Rice admitted he authorized the “removal” of two gang members on separate occasions while exercising “overall authority” over a Monterey County Jail housing unit, and Moreno admitted to having participated in a removal in 2013.
“Michael Rice and Alberto Morenohave admitted to participating in brutally violent attacks and other crimes to further the control and criminal activities of the Nuestra Familia prison gang," FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett said in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice. (The Norteño street gang is affiliated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang, with Norteños working to keep the Nuestra Familia’s rules and directives in place, according to the indictment. That’s how Rice came to be appointed in the hierarchy with upholding Nuestra Familia’s rules in the county jail.)
On Sept. 27, 2018 Moreno, Rice and 12 other defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury for racketeering conspiracy; Moreno and Rice were charged with conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. In their statements, both defendants pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy charge, admitting that murder was an object of the conspiracy. If they comply with their plea agreements, the additional charge will be dropped at sentencing.
Moreno’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2020 and Rice’s is on March 3, 2020. Moreno is expected to be sentenced to seven years and Rice to 13 years, per their plea deals. The maximum allowable sentence for their charges is life in prison plus five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.