SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Two associates of the notorious Nuestra Familia prison gang have pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges, admitting they were responsible for violent attacks of other inmates at the Monterey County Jail, authorities said.

In a joint press release, United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett said Michael Rice (also known as Redwood) and Alberto Moreno (also known as Doughboy) pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of violating the federal RICO Act.

“Defendants Rice and Moreno conspired and racketeered while in county jail to punish gang members who did not follow gang rules,” Anderson said. “Their conduct underscores the risks of depending on county jails to deter and punish serious criminal offenders. I hope and trust that a federal sentence will send a stronger message to these and other would-be offenders.”

At their sentencing, scheduled for Jan 2020, Rice and Moreno face a maximum statutory sentence of life in federal prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

According to the plea agreements, between December 2, 2012, and April 14, 2014, both defendants were members of the Nuestra Familia/Salinas Norteños Enterprise. The Enterprise consisted of members and associates of the Nuestra Familia prison gang as well as Norteño street gangs in Salinas and the surrounding areas.

Members and associates of the Enterprise agreed to commit crimes such as murder, narcotics trafficking, and other acts of violence through a pattern of racketeering activity, federal prosecutors said.

“Michael Rice and Alberto Moreno have admitted today to participating in brutally violent attacks and other crimes to further the control and criminal activities of the Nuestra Familia prison gang,” Bennett said.

In their plea agreements, Rice and Moreno admitted to participating in the distribution of narcotics to other inmates at Monterey County Jail. Also, the plea agreements describe the roles of the defendants in “removals” as a means of violently enforcing the most important of the gang’s rules while they were in the jail.

Federal prosecutors said the term “removal” refers to a violent attack designed to remove (from both the custodial housing unit and the gang itself) a member of the gang who committed a serious violation of the gang’s rules.

A removal is accomplished by having one or more “hitters” stab the victim and then having at least two “bombers” assault the target by punching and kicking the victim without weapons. The purpose of the subsequent beating is to inflict upon the victim maximum damage while giving the hitters time to wash themselves and get rid of weapons.

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