LOS ANGELES – A Mexican Mafia associate who ordered murders and assaults in Orange County’s jail system on the prison gang’s behalf was sentenced today to 210 months in federal prison for his racketeering conspiracy conviction.
Ramon Alvarez, 45, of Santa Ana, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. Alvarez pleaded guilty in June 2017 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Alvarez admitted in his plea agreement that, from October 2008 until September 2013, he agreed to assist the Mexican Mafia while he was a jail inmate. Alvarez was given the power to place fellow inmates on “hard candy” or “green light” lists, which marked other inmates for murder or assault within the Orange County jail system.
In December 2011, Alvarez authorized a co-conspirator to stab and kill a jail inmate, according to court documents. In October 2012, Alvarez identified a jail inmate victim who was cooperating with law enforcement in another inmate’s murder trial, and other Mexican Mafia associates later assaulted that inmate at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange.
The prison gang’s Orange County faction was headed by Peter Ojeda, a longtime Mexican Mafia member who controlled Latino street gangs in Orange County for at least three decades. Ojeda was found guilty in 2016 of racketeering offenses and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, where he died in 2018 at the age of 76.
Ojeda was involved in the operation and management of the Mexican Mafia’s activities in Orange County, which included orchestrating murder schemes, extortion and narcotics trafficking. Ojeda ordered Latino street gangs in Orange County to pay “taxes” that consisted of a portion of the proceeds the gangs earned from various criminal activities, including drug trafficking. In return, gang members were permitted to exert influence over their neighborhoods and territories and seek protection or assistance from the Mexican Mafia.
Alvarez was one of 25 defendants named in a RICO indictment brought as part of Operation “Smokin’ Aces,” which was a multi-agency operation that targeted the Orange County wing of the Mexican Mafia and led to charges against more than 80 defendants in federal court. In total, prosecutors have secured 76 convictions in these cases.
The investigation was jointly conducted by special agents of the Santa Ana Gang Task Force, which consisted of agents and officers with the FBI; IRS Criminal Investigation; the Santa Ana Police Department; the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Special Service Unit.
These cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel H. Ahn of the Santa Ana Branch Office.