First Mongol Sentenced

June 26, 2009

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The first defendant in the Mongols racketeering case was sentenced this week and that is both good news and bad news for the Mongols.

Juan Manuel “Listo” Nieves pled guilty to belonging to a murdering, drug dealing, criminal conspiracy named the Mongols Motorcycle Club and he was sentenced to 27 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Nieves has already been locked up for more than eight months and Federal prisoners usually serve between one third and one half of their sentence before being paroled. So, it is possible that he could be home for Christmas.

Nieves is the most senior member of the Mongols known to have entered a plea. He was Sergeant at Arms for the Mother Chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club and his sentencing puts a new pair of spectacles on this case.

Nieves Stepped Up

What just happened is that Nieves stepped up. Nieves and his attorney, Mark S. Windsor, called the government’s bluff. Windsor seems to have understood months ago that the Mongols Motorcycle Club as an institution was toast but that the accused Mongols as individual defendants had a very good chance of surviving this case and getting back to their lives.

The bad news for the Mongols, more clearly now than ever, is that the government owns the Mongols name, patch and any other tangible or intangible assets the club might still possess. Last week, a California corporation named the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club tried to stop this particular freight train by throwing eggs at it. The eggs missed.

And, just yesterday another defendant, Andres “Rascal” Rodriguez, pled guilty to racketeering and possession of a small amount of methamphetamine. So far a total of ten named defendants have called the government’s bluff and pled guilty to belonging to the Mongols criminal conspiracy.

How Strong Is The Government Case

The good news, however, is that it is starting to look like the government’s case against the remaining defendants is a big, bad bluff.

The government prosecution of the Mongols is, really, the fruit of two investigations. The first of these investigations was Operation Black Rain.

After that investigation concluded last October the government hit the defendants with more than 4,000 items of evidence: Including “recordings of numerous Mongols meetings;” “internal documents generated and maintained by the Mongols;” “telephone conversations intercepted pursuant to Title III wire taps;” “call sheets summarizing the conversations captured in additional intercepted telephone conversations;” and, more than “600 reports of investigation (ROI) generated by ATF agents.”

It sounds like an impressive mountain of evidence. Probably, it is more like a confusing mountain of innuendo, allegation and entrapment.

Is The Government Breaking The Law

The second investigation has been going on since the arrests and it began to pick up steam last February when the government first leaked stories to eager news sources that the Mongols were falling all over each other to cooperate. What has really been going on is that the prosecution has been threatening defendants with new, secret evidence supplied by their club, or former club, brothers.

What evidence? Well the government cannot say because to do so would put the sources of that evidence at risk. All the government will reveal is that at least 13 defendants have made secret deals.

Or, viewed more cynically, the government is blatantly, and perhaps criminally, frustrating discovery of alleged new evidence in order to try to spread as much paranoia and panic among the defendants as possible. Nieves’ attorney Windsor caught on to this early. If the government really does have a case against these men, and it already has a mountain of evidence against them, why does it need to create new evidence?

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Is it possible? Except for the big issue of the club name and patch, is this government case really as weak as every other ATF case has been against every other motorcycle club?

The ATF spent $700,000 dollars on the first six months of Operation Ivan eleven years ago, just to make Billy Queen a hang-around with the Mongols. This case, Operation Black Rain, paid eight undercover ATF Agents and six cooperating witnesses and it lasted for 40 months! How much did this all cost? Do the math.

During Operation Ivan, Queen very famously did not do a line of crank in a hotel room in Laughlin. How many lines of crank did these undercover agents not do?

Where is the truth in this case? If defendants are cooperating who are they? Did Doc Cavazos flip? How would you know if he did?

Did Doc Cavazos Flip

In most racketeering cases, there are three flashing lights that signal when a defendant is about to flip: The defendant changes lawyers; the defendant is physically moved or segregated away from other defendants; and, or, the defendant and his new lawyer meet privately with the judge. In federal cases, it may look like the prosecutor is making the deals but only a federal judge is actually allowed to shake hands.

The lights in this case flash slowly and dimly. This is what can be said that is provably true about Ruben Cavazos, Sr., his son Ruben, Jr. and his brother Al Cavazos.

All three men were remanded to the custody of United States Marshalls on October 21st, 2008. The three were ordered permanently detained six days later and since then they have all assumed a low profile.

For a period of many months before he was voted out of the club last August, Doc Cavazos seemed unable to keep quiet about anything with anybody. His memoir, his television appearance and his several conversations with the Los Angeles Times aside, this was a guy who, “on March 11, 2008, by telephone,” was tape recorded telling a reporter “that he could provide specific details about a Mongols murder committed at a tattoo shop and involving the Mexican Mafia, including information about the planning and preparation for the murder.”

Well, now it seems, Doc has run out of things to say. And, he does not appear to be in the Federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles with most of the other Mongols prisoners.

The New, Silent Doc

At least some Mongols think Cavazos is being detained in “San Bernardino” but that appears doubtful. He is in the custody of the Marshall’s Service and it seems unlikely that they would keep a notorious prisoner in a place like the West Valley Detention Center because it is basically a county jail. It is more likely that Cavazos is in the more secure Federal Institution on Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor; or the Metropolitan Correction Center in San Diego; or at the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville, about 30 miles northeast of San Bernardino; or even at the Fort Irwin Military Reservation and Desert Warfare Training Center which is about 40 miles north of Victorville.

Actually, Cavazos could be almost anywhere else in the world because he has not made a court appearance since at least October 24th when a magistrate ordered him detained. There does not appear to be any actual paper record that Cavazos has been in a court room since October 21st.

Cavazos has never changed lawyers. He has been represented from the beginning by a Supervising Attorney in the Office of the Federal Public Defender named Angel Navarro. Beginning on December 15th, and about once a month since then, Navarro has filed a court stipulated document attesting that he remains Doc Cavazos’ attorney of record and that he has visited with his client. There is also no unsealed record to indicate that Cavazos has ever met with Judge Cooper.

Al And Lil’ Rubes

The paper trail for Al Cavazos is also impossibly faint. He did however make an “under seal filing” on June 4th.

The most visible Cavazos in the official record has been Lil’ Rubes. Ruben Cavazos, Jr. is officially “Defendant Number Two” in this case. On February 27th, about the time the U.S. Attorney began the mass sealing of documents in this case, the youngest Cavazos and his attorney met with Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, “Out of the presence of (the) government prosecutor.” A court reporter named D. Hilland was also present.

Then about ten days ago Cavazos, Jr. subpoenaed certain, unnamed items from the Monterey Park (California) Police Department. Whatever he wanted to see will be returned at the “conclusion of the trial, contested proceeding, or upon any pretrial disposition of the case.”

Finally, nine days ago, Ruben Cavazos, Jr. waived his right to be present at any future court proceedings related to the case.

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22 Responses to “First Mongol Sentenced”

  1. TruthSeeker Says:

    “Nieves has already been locked up for more than eight months and Federal prisoners usually serve between one third and one half of their sentence before being paroled”

    There is no parole system in federal prisons in the United States. All federal prisoners are required to serve at least 85% of their sentences, most for non violent drug charges, and most are sentenced under mandatory minimums. These min-mans usually run from 10 years to life.. The old school belief in a revolving door for criminals is not founded in the least bit of truth.

  2. Cathi Baudry Says:

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  10. BBK Says:

    It is sad to see how much of my tax money was wasted! It is bullshit!

  11. JAMES Says:

    HISTORY CHANNELL, GANGLAND IS A JOKE AND IS SO ONE SIDED IT IS NOT FUNNY, DOC CAVASOS MENTIONED HE LOST 20 MEMBERS TO THE PROBLEMS WITH LA EME, 1 SHOT AND KILLED AT A HOTEL WITH A DRUG LAB INCIDENT, LA EME SAID THEY LOST A LAB, BUT 20 WEREN’T KILLED, MAYBE ONE SHOT OUTSIDE A HOTEL BUT THE OTHER 19 QUIT, LOOK AT THE CHAPTER 13 LIST OF THE MEMORIALS FOR MONGOLS MEMBERS, AND FIGURE THE DATES.DOC WAS TELLING MORE OF HIS PUFFED UP BULL.

  12. Rebel Says:

    Dear Duce09,

    Nah, just bikers. I am not comfortable drawing a connection between the big bust in Hawaiian Gardens and the Mongols case. ATF was involved in both cases. Both cases involved alleged drugs sales and alleged violence against blacks. If I have to draw a connection I will. If a connection shows up in court documents associated with the Mongols case I will draw it. Don’t see it so far. I haven’t got time to write about everything that pops up on my radar.

    Rebel

  13. Rebel Says:

    Dear Just A Biker–

    First your spelling. Mark Twain once said that “any man that couldn’t think of at least five ways to spell any word was sorely lacking in imagination,” so never sweat that, here. If I can understand what you are saying you are spelling just fine.

    By public records I mean not just official records, like warrants, affidavits and testimony given by John Ciccone and others that are based on “intelligence” – and they are published by the court not registered with a clerk – but also publically available statements that can be used as evidence. The mother lode for that shit includes numerous public statements made by Ruben “Doc” Cavazos in his book and in his television appearance on the History Channel. “During the war with La Eme we lost maybe 20 members,” and all that sort of statement. But, Cavazos isn’t all.

    There have also been, over the last several years numerous unchallenged public statements by Los Angeles area “gang investigators,” not just ATF, that have unequivocally stated that the Mongols and La Eme are or have been “at war.” A Los Angeles area television reporter named Chris Blatchford has bragged that he arranged a sit down between the Mongols and La Eme that led to a truce during some episode of that war. As a sideline, Blatchford gives talks to conventions of “gang investigators.”

    Public, widely disseminated statements have been made, I am quoting from memory, that “The club became about money not brotherhood;” that “Doc was recruiting street gang members who owed allegiance to the Mexican Mafia and telling those guys they didn’t have to pay taxes to La Eme anymore;” and that, “You can’t serve two masters.”

    “La Eme came to me and told me, ‘you have to pay your Tio.’ I told them the Mongols don’t pay anybody.” Doc said something like that.

    The El Lay Times did a long article about the Mongols recruiting members of Los Angeles “street gangs” aligned with the so called Mexican Mafia years ago. La Eme is a powerful and well respected eminence gris behind bars in California. La Eme is also routinely reported to be a very major player in the distribution of illicit drugs. This case is about proving that the Mongols are a “drug trafficking criminal conspiracy.” Many defendants are locked up in a place where La Eme is regarded most respectfully.

    So, I will answer your question by asking you a question. Okay? After Doc Cavazos, do you really think La Eme is sorry to see the Mongols go? Is that your informed take on this case? Really? Does La Eme have a short memory? Are the Mongols irreplaceable?

    Personally, I think the DOJ is working both sides of the street. In the Mongols case the Justice Department gets to have its cake and eat it, too. If that makes sense to you, great. If not, it will eventually.

    Rebel

  14. duce09 Says:

    Hey rebel, why dont you do an article about the Hawaiian Gardens indictment? It happened about a month ago…there was about 147 indicted, and five diffrent indictments, which affected many families…people will really appriciate it..thank you please keep me updated…

  15. JUST A BIKER Says:

    DEAR REBEL,

    I KNOW YOUR A REPORTER AND SOME SAY YOUR A COP I COULD CARE LESS EITHER WAY CAUSE YOUR SITE IS AWESOME..

    BUT I AM CURIOUS WHAT PUBLIC RECORDS COULD YOU HAVE POSSIBLY HAVE SEEN STATING THE EMME WANT THE MONGOLS OUT OF BUISNESS AS YOU PUT IT..LAST TIME I CHECKED GANGS DO NOT REGISTER THEIR BUISNESS WITH CITY CLERKS OFFICE?

    AND AS FOR THE FEDS TAKING A BOX OF SHIRTS WELL THE THEFT BEHIND A BADGE BECAUSE AS LONG AS THE SHIRTS DO NOT HAVE THE TRADE MARKED INSIGNIA ON IT THE FEDS CAN’T MESS WITH IT..THAT IS IF MY INTURPITATION OF THE INJUNCTION IS CORRECT..SORRY FOR MY SPELLING..

    ANY WAYS THANK YOU FOR YOUR ARTICLE..

  16. Rebel Says:

    Dear duce09,

    There are now, I think off the top of my head, 25 verified plea agreements. Thirteen of these defendants, I think are cooperating. The cooperators are all the sealed deals. The unsealed deals are with guys who are only cooperating to the extent that they are pleading to being part of a murdering, drug dealing, criminal conspiracy called the Mongols. The Department of Justice really wants to put the Mongols out of business. Really.

    According to public documents and numerous public statements La Eme also wants to put the Mongols out of business.

    Last week, I have been told, the ATF “seized” a box of Mongols tee shirts.

    Guys are getting the deals you know about simply because they are helping the government label the Mongols a criminal enterprise. Once the Mongols are officially a “gang” the conditions to establish probable cause change, sentences given to Mongols in the future can be enhanced and members of the “gang” can be enjoined from associating with one another.

    Government wins. Defendants get a little break. The Mongols alleged enemies win. The Mongols lose.

    Rebel

  17. duce09 Says:

    how true is all this about the mongols plae agreements,i mean theyre get good deals.

  18. A Free Man Says:

    To take a step back and look not only at this situation but history in general it seems that whenever a few become many some will behave, act and do things that are not only a wrong against the grain of man but also against the law. Case in point our Federal Congressman it seems that they should have ,for lack of a better word, had their Patch taken away. If one wants to take it to another ground the Catholic Church has done more to harm our Society,children and family than any motorcycle club. Yet they are still able to have their colors worn like a black and white collar for a priest or a Cardinals Red Cape. Better yet they collect millions of dollars every Sunday to move the golden rule to a higher level the one with the gold makes the rules (If you would like a refrence read an Irish kind of Hell). So our Guverment, spelled that way for a reason, sits and passes judgement moving us daily away from being free men.

  19. DirtyBruin Says:

    Anyone with an appreciation for any motorcycle club has to look on this case with concern. I don’t think any club should take any comfort in the fact that the MMC did make structural errors (the lack of incorporation, etc.) – and triple-check their own organization to make sure that they’ve taken full advantage of the available laws. Sure, smart lawyers cost money – but that’s a pittance compared to what it can cost a club to not have that quarter covered… as the Mongols are discovering.

    Wonder if we’re going to start seeing M/C’s incorporated in the Caymans or Bahamas, or the like? Hey, if it’s good enough for major business corporations….

  20. Joseph S Says:

    Good reporting Rebel, your on it.

    The Man of Steel

  21. Rebel Says:

    Dear James,

    It would help if the existing Mongols Motorcycle Club was trying to establish that Doc stole the club, not just that Doc stole the patch. To a large extent, I think that would depend on former club members thrown out by Doc Cavazos. If they want to help, the club has a puncher’s chance.

    It is really bad, though, that the club was not a corporation long ago and that the chapters were not franchises long ago. That is the first mountain the Mongols have to climb right there.

    Personally, I think the implications of officially branding the Mongols as a “criminal gang” are very sobering: Like probable cause will already exist for any police action; sentencing for any crime can be almost automatically enhanced if you are patched with the Mongols; and in California, the state will have grounds to seek a gang injunction that would prohibit members from talking to one another.

    This is on top of the simple fact that men have died for that patch. Men have cared enough to die for the club. It is not a valid legal argument but it is still true. Almost everybody who reads this can understand what a big deal it is when you finally get patched into a club. Any club. What is happening to the Mongols is, pretty much, an attempted attack on every club.

    You are right. It is not over until it is over. But so far, nobody has done anything that would encourage Judge Cooper to overrule herself. The argument that might work is that Doc stole the club, not just the patch. And that the club was not the criminal conspiracy, but rather that Doc and HIS CO-CONSPIRATORS were the criminal conspiracy. What works against that is that so far it appears that 24 patch holders have stated for the record that the club is a criminal gang. The club also has to overcome any incriminating evidence that was gathered during the six weeks after Doc was voted out bad.

    Keep the faith. Enjoy your weekends.

    your pal,
    Rebel

  22. JAMES Says:

    JUST GOES TO SHOW, EVERYONE KNEW THIS MUCH WOULD HAPPEN, BUT THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER,A GUY GIVES UP ANYTHING TO PLAY “SAVE ASS” GETS A SHORT SENTENCE BY TELLING ANYTHING THE FEDS WANT HIM TO SAY, TOO BAD THE ONES WHO ARE INNOCENT OF THESE TYPES OF CRIMES WILL HAVE TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF HIM, THE PATCH FIGHT IS STILLON AND MAY LOOK BAD BUT NOT OVER TILL IT IS OVER, THE MONGOLS M.C. IS NOT A CRIMINAL CONSPIRIRACY OR ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE, JUST DOC AAND HIS SELECT SECRET GROUP, I FEEL SO SAD FOR THE ONES CAUGHT UP IN THIS THAT HAD NO INVOLVEMENT INTO WHAT DOC AND HIS SELECT FEW WERE UP TO, BEWARE ALL CLUBS, ORGS., ETC. IF THIS BATTLE IS LOST BET YOUR SWEET ASS YOU WILL BE NEXT, NO ONE IS IMUNE TO THESE NAZI, COMMY TYPES OF FEDERAL TACTICS.

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