A 45-year-old associate of the Mexican Mafia has been sentenced to 210 months in federal prison for ordering murders and assaults in California's Orange County's jail system on behalf of the prison gang.
Ramon Alvarez, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in June 2017.
Deciding The Fates of Fellow Inmates
Alvarez played an important role in deciding the very outcomes of the lives of fellow inmates. In his plea bargain, he admitted to agreeing to aid the Mexican Mafia while in prison. He is said to have provided assistance to the group from October 2008 until September 2013.
Being empowered with the freedom of placing inmates on listsâhard candy or green lightâwhich targeted other prisoners for murder or assault with the county's prison system. According to court documents, Alvarez sanctioned the stabbing and killing of an inmate by a co-conspirator in December 2011.
In October 2012, Alvarez discovered that a prison inmate had been cooperating with the authorities in another prisoner's murder trial. He was assaulted by Mexican Mafia associates held at Orange County's Theo Lacy Facility on Alvarez's order.
Prison Gang Head Also Found Guilty
The Orange County faction of the prison gang was helmed by Peter Ojeda, a longtime Mexican Mafia member. Ojeda is known to have overseen for nearly 30 years, all the Latino street gangs in Orange County. He was also involved in the management and administration of the Mexican Mafia's affairs in the county. This included carrying out murder plots, trafficking of narcotics, and extortion.
Latino street gangs in Orange County were ordered by Ojeda to pay 'taxes' to the Mexican Mafia, which comprised of earnings from the criminal operations undertaken by the gangs. In return for the payments, the gangs could flex their authority over their respective turfs and neighborhoods, along with the provision of seeking assistance or protection from the criminal organization. In 2016, Ojeda was found guilty of racketeering offenses and received a sentence of 15 years in federal prison, where he dies at the age of 76 in 2018.
Operation 'Smokin' Aces'
Alvarez was snared by the authorities and named as one of the 25 defendants under a RICO indictment which was the result of Operation "Smokin' Aces". It was a multi-agency operation that focused on the Mexican Mafia.
The operation targeted the Orange County wing of the Mexican Mafia, which in turn led to the filing of charges against over 80 individuals in federal court. Collectively, 76 convictions have been secured by prosecutors in these cases.