A 26-year-old Salinas man was found guilty on Friday of helping the Norteno criminal street gang sell drugs in Salinas in a case built with the help of legal wiretaps, a prosecutor said today.
A jury in Superior Court in Salinas convicted Omar Ramirez on Friday of conspiring to sell methamphetamine for the Norteno gang, possessing methamphetamine for sale for the gang and street terrorism, Deputy District Attorney Rolando Mazariegos said.
Prosecutors presented evidence at Ramirez’s trial showing he directed Norteno gang members in Salinas to pay other gang members with money gained from methamphetamine sales while conspiring to sell the illegal drug, Mazariegos said.
Ramirez is one of 21 members or associates of the Norteno gang to be convicted of drugs sales or street terrorism since the county launched a multi-agency law enforcement effort called Operation Snake Eyes on March 21 last year, Mazariegos said.
The operation involved legal eavesdropping on the phone conversations of suspects, the prosecutor said.
“Operation Snake Eyes was a wiretap-type of operation,” Mazariegos said. “Legal wiretaps were authorized by the county.”
The Salinas Police Department, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, the state Department of Justice and the district attorney’s office worked together in the operation, Mazariegos said.
Ramirez faces up to 19 years in state prison at a sentencing hearing set for April 29, he said.