SAN JOSE – A federal jury convicted Vincent Gerald Garcia and Jorge Jasso today of engaging in multiple conspiracies involving gang membership and gang violence, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan. The verdict follows a three-week jury trial before United States District Judge Beth L. Freeman.
Garcia, 55, of Salinas, and Jasso, 29, of Soledad, were charged along with thirteen co-defendants on September 26, 2018, and are the last defendants pending in the case. At trial, Garcia and Jasso each faced three charges: (1) engaging in a racketeering (RICO) conspiracy; (2) engaging of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering; and (3) engaging in a conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. The jury convicted Garcia and Jasso of all counts.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from December 2012 through April 2014 the defendants Garcia and Jasso were active members of the Nuestra Familia (“NF”) prison gang and its affiliated Norteño street gang. Garcia was the Regiment Commander for the NF in charge of all Monterey County. Jasso was a Norteño member from Soledad. Norteño gang members pledged loyalty to the NF. Inside prisons and local jails, all members and associates of the NF worked together to maintain the structure and follow the gang’s rules. Any member in a Norteño housing unit who committed a serious violation of the rules was subject to “removal.” A removal was orchestrated by Norteño gang members and involved an organized attack upon the target, first by at least one “hitter” stabbing the target and followed immediately by a beating without weapons by at least two “bombers.” The beating inflicted maximum damage to the victim and caused a distraction that allowed time for the hitters to hide weapons and wash off.
Trial evidence showed that removals were approved in advance by the Norteño in charge of the facility upon learning of violations from members in the jail housing unit. The Norteño gang member in charge of the housing unit planned the removal. All members of the Norteño housing unit were aware of the removal process and were required to assist if requested.
Other evidence demonstrated that the sale of controlled substances both inside custodial facilities and on the street was a central income producer for the gang. Norteño members smuggled controlled substances into Monterey County Jail as well as other jails and sold the “hard” drugs to other inmates, but distributed marijuana solely to fellow Norteños in custody.
The evidence at trial focused on ten removals in the Monterey County Jail between December 2012 and April 2014. Most of the removals occurred in “K-Pod,” a cell block housing active Norteño members and associates exclusively. Three removals occurred in the jail’s main yard during the recreation period for inmates housed in the lockdown pods for Norteños.
The defendant Garcia was identified by trial evidence as the leader responsible for approving the removals. Garcia was a long time gang member who rose through the ranks to become a carnale of the NF prison gang in the 1990s. He later became the NF Regiment Commander in charge of Salinas and all of Monterey County from at least 2012 through 2014. From May 2013 through February 2015, Garcia was incarcerated in the Monterey County Jail. Evidence showed he was in charge of the entire jail for the NF and ordered assaults and murder attempts. He retained ultimate authority and could put fellow gang members on “freeze” status, clear them for rule violations, strip them of gang or leadership roles, and elevate others into leadership positions.
Jorge Jasso, according to the evidence, was a Norteño street gang member from Soledad who was housed in Monterey County Jail from May 2012 through September 2013. The evidence established that Jasso was a NF foot soldier that participated in murder attempts and assaults. He participated in the removal of a Norteño gang member on December 2, 2012, by performing the role of a bomber after others stabbed the victim. Jasso was also involved in the removal of a second victim on February 25, 2013, again acting as a bomber after the victim was stabbed.
United States District Judge Freeman scheduled sentencing hearings for Garcia and Jasso on August 30, 2022. Both defendants remain in custody pending sentencing.
For their conviction of a racketeering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1962(d) in Count 1, Garcia and Jasso each face a maximum of life in prison. For their conviction of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) in Count 2, Garcia and Jasso each face a maximum 10 years in prison. For their conviction of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(6) in Count 3, Garcia and Jasso face a maximum of 3 years in prison. For each count of conviction, they face a maximum fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen J. Meyer and Neal Hong prosecuted the case at trial with the assistance of Christine Tian, Mimi Lam, Laurie Worthen, Susan Krieder, Lynette Dixon, and Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI with assistance from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Salinas Police Department, the Soledad Police Department, and the Fresno Police Department.