(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Four Nuestra Familia gang members sentenced to federal prison

A three-month trial wrapped up in Oakland Wednesday, as four high-profile members of gang Nuestra Familia were sentenced to federal prison. Charges included murder, racketeering, robbery and drug offenses.

Nuestra Familia leader Andrew Cervantes, 60, aka “Mad Dog,” of Stockton, Calif., was sentenced to 36 years in prison.  Henry Cervantes, 52, aka “Happy,” of Lodi, Calif., was sentenced to 75 years in prison.  Alberto Larez, 48, aka “Bird,” of Salinas, Calif., was sentenced to life plus ten years in prison; Jaime Cervantes, 33, aka “Hennessy,” of San Mateo, Calif., was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

“Today, four additional members of the Nuestra Familia gang were sentenced for the heinous crimes they perpetrated upon our community, bringing to 12 the number of defendants sentenced as a result of this investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch.  “Today’s sentences have a special significance in light of the court’s findings that three of the defendants were among the highest ranked members of the organization internationally.  The sentences reflect the egregious conduct of the defendants who lured and intimidated younger members of the community into being the next generation of gang members ready to accept a life of crime, drugs, and violence.”

The list of crimes Nuestra Familia is associated with is grueling: in 2011, Jaime Cervantes and an associate burned the bodies of two murder victims in an apartment in Oakland. In 2012, Larez lured a rival gang member to a meeting, where he was shot. And in 2013, an inmate at USP McCreary in Kentucky was stabbed on Andrew Cervantes orders. The trafficking of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin also took place to fund the gang’s activities.

During the court proceedings it was uncovered that Andrew Cervantes was the leader of the Nuestra Familia, conducting many of his affairs from a federal prison in Pennsylvania. Communications were made to other gang members through coded letters and telephone calls.

The Nuestra Familia gang was originally formed in California state prisons during the 1960s.  The sentencing of the three Cervantes and Larez marks the end of a six-year investigation and prosecution of the gang, which resulted in the convictions of 12 people.

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