Top Utah gang leader sentenced to 14 years in federal prison

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 14, 2021  – Joseph “Norte Joe” Gomez, the lead defendant in a 32-defendant federal indictment, was sentenced last Tuesday to serve 14 years in federal prison.

Following his incarceration, Gomez will be subject to five years of supervised release, judge U.S. District Court Judge in the District of Utah Judge Tena Campbell ruled, according to a Department of Justice Utah District statement released Tuesday.

The sentencing follows Gomez’s earlier guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder money.

All 31 members and associates of the Norteños street gang responsible for distributing drugs around the Salt Lake City area have pleaded guilty, and four lower-level defendants have yet to be sentenced, the statement says. Most of the defendants in this case have received sentences between 72 and 96 months, it adds.

Gang investigators documented Utah’s first Norteños group in the mid-1980s, followed by several other sub-sets in the early 1990s, the statement says. Unaligned or independent street gangs began associating under the Norteños umbrella in the early 2000s. According to the complaint, the Salt Lake Valley has approximately 10 active Norteños sub-sets, with approximately 100-150 active Norteños gang members.

Norteños in the Salt Lake Valley have been responsible for drive-by shootings, aggravated assaults, robberies, and homicides, the DOJ Utah statement says.

“The United States Attorney’s Office remains committed to the federal prosecution of gang members and narcotics dealers who fuel the violent crime epidemic in the Salt Lake Valley,” said Acting United States Attorney Andrea T. Martinez.

“This prosecution highlights the high-level narcotics distribution networks that target our state and our communities, along with the law enforcement partnerships that enable us to dismantle drug trafficking organizations
from the cartel level down to street dealers.”


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