Just updated: Mexican Mafia members sentenced

One of my colleagues here at The Sun, Joe Nelson, covered the sentencing of high-ranking Mexican Mafia members Salvador Hernandez and his brother Alfred Hernandez this morning in San Bernardino Superior Court.

(Here’s the link to Joe’s coverage of the sentencing, as promised.)

Salvador Hernandez, 43, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, while Alfred Hernandez, 39, was received nine years. They both received credit for 722 days, about two years, already served in custody.

The case is connected to a narcotics sweep in December 2006 in San Bernardino which targeted a local drug ring that authorities said was overseen by the Mexican Mafia. More than 43 people were arrested in the sweep across the city.

A little later, I’ll have an update posted here from Joe. In the meantime, here’s a story that Joe and I wrote in April about the case.

April 18, 2008
Section: News

Closing cases

Author: Mike Cruz and Joe Nelson, Staff Writers

SAN BERNARDINO – Two Mexican Mafia gang members and a pair of San Manuel tribal members were among a group who took plea bargains Thursday stemming from a San Bernardino narcotics sweep in 2006.

After weeks of negotiations with prosecutors, reputed Mexican Mafia shotcaller Salvador Hernandez and his brother, Alfred Hernandez, each pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder with a street gang enhancement.

Salvador Hernandez, 43, will receive 10 years in state prison, under the terms of the plea bargain. His 39-year-old younger brother will be sentenced to nine years.

Tribal members Stacy Nunez, 25, and her brother Erik Barajas, 35, will each receive five years probation and some jail time.

The defendants were among a group of six people who took plea bargains Thursday in Superior Court in San Bernardino.

The case is connected to a narcotics sweep in December 2006 targeting a local drug ring, which authorities said was overseen by the Mexican Mafia and included San Manuel tribal members.

Prosecutors were confident they would have achieved convictions had the case gone to trial.

They said they hoped the sentences will be a successful step toward reducing crime on the reservation.

“We don’t want folks associating with or otherwise bringing the criminal element onto or into businesses concerned with the San Manuel tribe,” said Deputy District Attorney Douglas Poston, who prosecuted the case.

The attempted-murder count is related to the attempts by the Hernandez brothers, Nunez and Barajas – as a group – to have an unidentified man killed in 2006, prosecutors said.

The tribe had no input on the plea bargains and sentences, which Poston said were appropriate.

Defense lawyer Albert Perez said his client, Nunez, faced 21 years to life in prison if the case had gone to trial.

“She’s happy it’s over,” Perez said, after the court proceedings. “She’s not happy she had to plead guilty, but she’s happy it’s over.”

Nunez pleaded guilty to attempted murder with a street gang enhancement, transportation of a controlled substance for sale, and possession of drugs in the jail.

Perez said he was unsure what impact, if any, the guilty plea and sentence would have on Nunez’s status with the tribe.

Nunez will serve her one year of jail time via electronic monitoring at her home, if approved by the court.

Also a tribal member, Barajas pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with a street gang enhancement.

He will have to serve 180 days, which could also be done through electronic monitoring.

Salvador Hernandez’s lawyer Catherine Fox said her client wanted the resolution.

James Taylor, who represented Alfred Hernandez, said his client was facing up to life in prison, and now may be able to go home after seven years in prison.

“It was something they could all digest,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t say that they’re happy.”

Another defendant, Jeanette Amaya, 51, also pleaded guilty to charges involving controlled substances and a street gang enhancement. She will receive five years probation in the drug case and not receive any credit for the near six months she already served.

Sentencing for all six defendants will be Aug. 7 in Superior Court.

Four other defendants – Jennifer Murphy, 27, Jesus Leyva, 34, Pedro Perez, 32, and Anthony Maestas, 33 – had pleaded guilty in earlier court proceedings.

Although tribal officials declined to comment on the matter Thursday, Chairman James Ramos said in a written statement: “The personal conduct of Stacy and Erik Barajas has no connection to the San Manuel Tribal Government or to the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, and therefore it would not be appropriate for us to comment on their cases.”

Ramos has encountered problems of his own with the Barajas clan in the last year.

In November, he sought a restraining order against Nunez and her father, Kenneth Barajas, alleging they threatened him during a tribal council meeting and he feared for his life and the safety of his family.

A judge granted the restraining order against Kenneth Barajas in December, but his daughter was dropped from the restraining order case as a compromise to settle the matter, Ramos’ attorney, Patrick Silva, said at the time.

The incident shook Ramos up so much he hired someone to stand guard outside his home.

A seven-month investigation by police and Drug Enforcement Administration agents into the Mexican Mafia’s methamphetamine business in San Bernardino culminated in a raid in December 2006 of homes across the county and on the San Manuel reservation.

Dozens of people were arrested in the sweep.

Salvador Hernandez has been identified in DEA documents and by county prosecutors as the reputed Mexican Mafia’s “shotcaller” for the San Bernardino area, meaning he collects taxes – a percentage of cash profits from the sale of methamphetamine – from Latino gangs in the city. He can also authorize killings.

According to DEA documents, Nunez is an associate of the Mexican Mafia.

She paid $5,000 in rent at one time for one gang member serving time at Oak Glen State Prison, and has bought cars for other gang members.

During the investigation, undercover DEA agents watching Salvador Hernandez spotted him driving a black Dodge Infinity work truck that was registered to Nunez, court records show.

Authorities also learned during the investigation of the growing concern that gang members were infiltrating the reservation.

One DEA document details an October 2006 meeting on the reservation between tribal security officers, San Bernardino police officers and DEA agents.

Kevin Villalobos, then a lieutenant with the tribe’s security force, told agents and police that gang members had “infiltrated the reservation and were extorting some of the tribal members for money.

Villalobos told investigators that tribal members including Nunez and Erik Barajas brought problems to the reservation due to their interaction with gang members and allowing them onto the reservation and into their homes, according to DEA documents.

Reached by telephone this week, Villalobos declined comment.

7 thoughts on “Just updated: Mexican Mafia members sentenced


  2. In this type of situation people tend to make decisions based on fear or anger. Disreguarding the fact that some (not all) of these people may be innocent. Wich is understandable from the laws’ perspective. However it does not jutify tearing the lives of the defendants/victims as well as the lives of their loved ones apart. Not only is it generally wrong, but it is not what we as Americans stand for. What ever happened to “The land of the free”? and “Liberty and justice for all”? Although I appreciate the effective security that was acheived, some of the said cases look like satisfaction for San Bernardino county, the FEDS or whomever, not justice for anybody.

  3. Please don’t be offended by the previous or the following statements. It is said that people are afraid of the law. Afraid of being shot, afraid of being torn from their families. One should not put themselves in a position where it is nessesary for law enforcement to use force or destroy them in court. Thats not always the case though. Just like criminals that bully their victims, some law enforcement officials do theirs’. Because I’ve wittenessed these occurances I was actually terrified to send the previous comment. Heck I’m debating whether or not to hit send on this one. I mean, when are they going to come smash my door down for some bogus reason, punch my lights out, say I was resisting arrest, and lock me away for a good chunk of my life. It might sound like I
    give myself too much value, like why would they waste their time on me. Well I think that is a valid fear granted I have seen it happen and have been mistreated by law enforcement even as a kid. The only reason I say these things is because if I don’t speak up and throw some ideas out there who will? Innocent until proven guilty remember? Try to look at some of these cases from the inmates side of the story, give them the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty. I don’t mean proven guilty by their physical appearances. Keep in mind that they are in an institution where they are going to look rugged, or “like a criminal”. I also don’t mean proven guilty by a guilty plea/ bargin only agreed to out of fear of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Law and justice, bussiness, whatever your occupation, Take the time to to focus not on the things of every day city life, but clear your mind and find a softer side of yourself so you can realize what is really happening right in front of you. Don’t be a criminal yourself. Filter out the good from the bad.

  4. I will not argue but whoever said “naa” that was an odd way to disagree with the above statements.I can vouge for the second and third comments. I have also had similar experiences with the law.Before I got to where I am now in life I was there.Its different when you see thing from the bottom up and you are looked down upon.I can’t say that they intentionally hurt innocent people but I can say that it does happen.why? I think one big reason why is that they sincerly do not care.This is not to be taken the wrong way.We better thank god that we have laws.there are some out there who do care.But who cares enough to take a closer look?

  5. Yeah whatever you might think about law enforcement harassing/hurting ect. That is irelavent.There are so many innocent people hurting right now.Sons,daughters, brothers,sisters,mothers,friends ect.I don’t know about you but to see this breaks my heart.Please find justice and serve it PLEASE!!!

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