Intelligence unit sparks big gang bust

Mugshots of eight inmates indicted for gang activity

BOISE, March 15, 2011 - A three-year investigation that started with information uncovered by IDOC‘s Investigation and Intelligence Unit has to led state and federal charges against 30 people, eight of whom are in Idaho prisons.

The defendants are members of the Brown Magic Clica, a gang that is active in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho. The defendants are accused of a variety of crimes including murder, attempted murder, distribution of methamphetamine and oxycodone, unlawful possession of firearms and recruitment of gang members. 

Investigators believe several of the IDOC inmates who were indicted or arrested are gang leaders and continued to direct the gang’s criminal activity in the area despite being in prison. IDOC Director Brent Reinke says their arrests show the important, but often overlooked, role that the department’s correctional professionals play in protecting Idaho communities.

“For a long time we’ve warned people that what happens in prison does not stay in prison,” Director Reinke says. “This case shows how valuable our intelligence unit is to the department and to the entire state of Idaho.”

The investigation was called “Operation Black Magic.” It was conducted by the Treasure Valley METRO Violent Crime Task Force and involved more than one dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The investigation started in May of 2008, when an alert IDOC investigator discovered a letter to an inmate that contained hidden gang signs. The letter indicated that the inmate was a leader of the BMC, and it revealed some of the gang’s internal issues.

In response to the letter, the intelligence unit started monitoring all of the inmate’s mail. In one letter that he sent, he ordered that a girl be beaten. IDOC alerted the Nyssa Police Department that the girl was at risk.  In another letter, he ordered that a Nyssa bar be set on fire. IDOC warned police of that threat, too.

In September of 2008, METRO asked IDOC for assistance in conducting a full-scale investigation of the gang. The investigation was a closely guarded secret inside the department and among METRO investigators until the defendants were arrested. 

Tim Higgins, IDOC’s investigation and intelligence program coordinator, says cooperation is the key to successfully prosecuting gangs, and he says that cooperation must extend beyond the law enforcement community.

“By our communities, schools, churches, police agencies, prosecutors and correctional officials banding together to support Idaho's zero-tolerance policy towards gangs, we can effectively control their growth and hold them accountable for their criminal behavior,”  Higgins says.

The eight IDOC inmates who were arrested are:

  • Hector Almaraz, #55013.  He was serving time at IMSI for murder and aggravated assault.  He’s now facing a state charge of conspiracy to recruit gang members.

 

  • Alfredo Castro, #50786. He was serving time at IMSI for aggravated battery. He’s now accused of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

 

  • Adam Gomez, #73445.  He was serving time at ICC for burglary and eluding an officer. He’s now accused of violating the RICO Act.

 

  • Adelaido Gomez, #80561. He was serving time at ICC for possession of a controlled substance and illegal possession of weapons.  He’s now accused of violating the RICO Act.

 

  • Juan Jimenez, #89739. He was serving time at ICC for aggravated battery.  He’s now accused of violating the RICO Act and attempted murder in aid of racketeering.

 

  • Ruben Nungaray, #75420. He was serving time at ISCI for aggravated assault and illegal possession of weapons.  He’s now indicted on five federal counts of illegally possessing firearms.

 

  • Matthew Grover, #87890. He was on a rider at NICI for possession of a controlled substance.  He’s now accused of violating the RICO Act, five federal counts of illegally possessing firearms and one federal count of illegally distributing a controlled substance.

 

  • Juan Gonzales, #97204. He was on a rider at NICI for aggravated battery. He’s now accused of violating the RICO Act, and one federal count of illegally distributing a controlled substance.

 

Story published: 03/15/2011
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