Wife of Nuestra Familia Gang Leader Pleads Guilty in Ongoing Nuestra Familia Drug Trafficking Prosecution
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 25, 2013|
SACRAMENTO, CA—Carolyn Huerta, 37, of Castroville, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to traffic methamphetamine, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI’s Stockton Violent Crime Task Force, the San Joaquin County Metropolitan Narcotics Task Force (METRO), the Stockton Police Department, the Salinas Police Department, the Watsonville Police Department, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation into the activities of the Nuestra Familia (NF), a violent Hispanic prison gang based within the California and federal prison systems whose members exert control over street-level Norteño gang members engaged in drug trafficking and violent crime. Assistant United States Attorneys Jason Hitt and William S. Wong are prosecuting the case.
According to court documents, Huerta is the wife of a Nuestra Familia general Joseph “Pinky” Hernandez. Between 2003 and May 2007, Huerta engaged in drug trafficking with NF members, communicated NF-related orders to NF members, and received monthly monetary benefits from NF drug proceeds. Huerta provided a vital communications link to incarcerated NF generals. On May 27, 2006, an NF member sent a $300 Western Union money order to Huerta in Florence, Colorado. That same day, Huerta entered the Supermax prison in Colorado to visit Hernandez in an effort to obtain coded communications for the Salinas regiment. The meeting was ultimately unsuccessful because of the significant security measures in place at the facility. Huerta’s travel expenses for this trip were paid using NF drug money.
According to court documents, in 2004, Huerta would occasionally receive four ounces of methamphetamine from the NF’s Salinas regiment. She was given the methamphetamine without charge. This permitted Huerta to make money from methamphetamine sales without paying back any costs associated with the drugs. Huerta received the NF drug proceeds and methamphetamine as a fee for facilitating communication between her husband and others. Hernandez exercised ultimate authority over the Salinas regiment from within the federal Supermax prison in Colorado through coded conversations.
This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
Huerta is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2013, by United States District Judge William B. Shubb. She faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.