Gang bust breaks up infamous Nuestra Familia

August 31, 2010 7:56:02 PM PDT
It took 250 federal, state and local officials to get to the arrest of more than 30 gang members, and many of them were high ranking officials from the Nuestra Familia gang.

Authorities seized 12 guns, $15,000 in cash, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, and authorities said they dealt a major blow to one of California's most notorious and dangerous prison gangs.

From inside the confines of what is supposed to be a maximum security state prison, Pelican Bay, authorities say David "DC" Cervantes and three generals give orders to kill.

Thanks in part to smuggled cell phones, sometimes by lawyers and family members, these commanders receive the orders and carry them out on the outside.

"Nuestra Familia not only calls shots in prisons, but it does in the neighborhoods of California," California Attorney General Jerry Brown said.

Brown announced a crackdown on the gang that is believed to order hits, run drug rings and racketeering schemes inside several prisons. They also have dangerous connections with Norte?o sects around the state.

In the Central Valley, agents arrested 34 gang members, including four of those commanders with direct links to "Nuestra Familia."

"We have never been able to do this in such magnitude, to cost them to be basically disrupted. It's our intent to subsequently dismantle them," Chief Colleen Mestas from the Visalia Police Department said.

The bust is part of a yearlong operation that included a high-profile Salinas bust earlier this year. Brown said the gang's long arm reaches the Bay Area as well.

"I don't think any place is safe from this kind of criminal enterprise," he said.

Authorities say inmates are able to smuggle cell phones into the prison sometimes in body cavities and sometimes through more creative means, like baked goods brought by relatives and friends

"The criminal threat posed by this criminal organization is significant and it calls for a significant, coordinated law enforcement response. It's what we have been doing, it's what we did today and it's what we will continue to do," U.S. attorney Benjamin Wagner said.

The highest ranking leaders in Nuestra Familia are already serving life sentences and many of them are kept in isolation 24 hours a day. Despite those guidelines, they are still able to get their messages outside prison walls.

As for Tuesday's arrests, some of them could be facing a combination of state and federal charges and they could spend the rest of their lives behind bars.


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