Oakland gang member gets 12 years in prison for jewelry heist, other crimes

A gang member was sentenced Monday to 12 years of imprisonment following convictions for forced labor, robbery and firearms-related offenses, federal prosecutors said.

Oakland resident Michael “Guantes” Acosta, 23, was convicted for his role in a 2013 jewelry robbery, a high-speed chase and crash that ended in Oakland and a scheme to prostitute an underage girl against her will for 30 days, according to U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Ryan L. Spradlin.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar handed down the sentence.

Acosta pleaded guilty to the charges on June 10, admitting that in January 2013, he conspired with three others to rob a jewelry storeowner at gunpoint.

Acosta and his gang associates robbed the storeowner in his driveway and sold the jewelry, which netted Acosta a $15,000 payout that he used to buy a black Mercedes-Benz.

In March 2013, Acosta used the Mercedes to transport an underage girl to another gang member’s home, where they held her against her will and prostituted her, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In August 2013, Acosta led police on a high-speed chase through Oakland, crashing the Mercedes into a home’s front yard and landing the car on top of another vehicle.

When he was arrested, Acosta was found to be in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol and several balloons containing heroin, prosecutors said.

Acosta was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, possession of a controlled substance and forced labor.

Acosta pleaded guilty to all charges except carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which was dismissed.

In addition to the 12-year prison term, Acosta was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $86,570 in restitution. He has been in custody since his arrest in 2013, and will begin serving his sentence immediately, prosecutors said.

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