OAKLAND — A Watsonville man who prosecutors argued was in charge of collecting tens of thousands of dollars in “dues” for the Nuestra Familia prison gang has been sentenced to five years in federal prison, court records show.

Rocky Bracamonte, 38, pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge involving his involvement with the Nuestra Familia, the prison gang that controls the Norteño street gang. He was sentenced this month by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, records show.

Bracamonte was arrested as part of a massive series of indictments targeted the gang, including alleged members of its leadership council. The charges carry a range of crimes, including drug trafficking, stockpiling weapons, and 14 separate murder conspiracies.

Bracamonte’s role in the gang was to provide material support by “collecting tens of thousands of dollars in dues from Norteños in the Watsonville regiment and by trafficking large volumes of drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. They also say he was arrested in his Watsonville home with an “arsenal” of guns, and that his status as a Nuestra Familia member who wasn’t in prison gave him special value to the gang, which mostly comprises people serving life sentences in state or federal prison. 

The federal investigation included a wiretap, which intercepted calls where dues from various area “regiments” were discussed. In one call, co-defendants Samuel Luna and Eric Zarate allegedly discussed how “Fox” — believed to be Bracamonte — had paid around $4,500, while $1,500 was collected from the “East Bay,” $6,000 had come in from Fresno, and $6,000 from Contra Costa County. Prosecutors noted that the amount tied to “Fox” is “far too much in dues to be owed by a single individual” and therefore must have been a regiment payment. 

The defense, led by Bay Area-based defense attorney David Cohen, portrayed Bracamonte as a “good person who has made serious mistakes” and was “led astray” by methamphetamine addiction, and “poor choices.” The defense asked for a two-year stint at an addiction treatment facility in lieu of prison time. Previously, Cohen had denied all the allegations, including that Bracamonte was known as “Fox” within the Nuestra Familia.

“The Court spent a good amount of time reviewing the bail determination in this case and is well aware of Mr. Bracamontes family history, work history, and extraordinary family support,” Cohen wrote in a sentencing memo. “The Court is also aware that Mr. Bracamonte is a big part of the lives of four young children who need him to not only be available by being out of custody, but to be available as a sober man who is not engaged in criminal activity.”

Prosecutors asked for a 75-month prison sentence, which would have put Bracamonte on par with five gang members who admitted to taking part in murder conspiracies while serving life sentences in prison, and were given federal terms ranging from 74 to 88 months earlier this year.


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