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October 17, 2016San Francisco, CAUnited StatesTransnational Gangs

Bay Area gang member sentenced to 12 years in prison following convictions for jewelry heist, illegal narcotics, forced labor

SAN FRANCISCO – A member of the Border Brothers gang was sentenced Monday to 12 years in federal prison for his role in a crime spree that included a 2013 jewelry robbery; a high-speed chase that ended with a crash in Oakland; and a scheme to force an underage female into prostitution.

Michael Acosta, aka “Guantes,” 23, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in June to the charges, which stem from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Oakland Police Department. In pleading guilty, Acosta admitted that in January 2013 he conspired with three others to rob a jewelry store owner at gunpoint. The owner was transporting a briefcase full of jewelry to his store when Acosta, with the help of other Border Brothers members and associates, robbed him in the driveway of his home. Acosta further admitted that after the stolen jewelry was sold, he obtained $15,000 for his share of the robbery proceeds and used the funds to purchase a black Mercedes. 

In late March 2013, Acosta used the Mercedes to transport an underage female to the residence of another Border Brothers member, forcing her to stay at the residence for approximately 30 days. Acosta also assisted others with prostituting the victim and holding her against her will at the residence.  Additionally, in August 2013, Acosta led police on a high-speed chase through residential streets in Oakland. Acosta crashed the Mercedes in the front yard of a home, where his car landed on top of another vehicle. 

At the time of his arrest, Acosta was in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol and several balloons containing heroin. Acosta was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, possession of a controlled substance, and forced labor.  Acosta pleaded guilty to all of the charges except the firearms violation, which was dismissed.

“The defendant’s actions demonstrate his belief that he was above the law,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco. “This sentence should send a clear message that, together with our law enforcement partners, we will work tirelessly to bring to justice criminals who torment our communities with selfish and senseless acts of abuse and violence.”

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar sentenced Acosta to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $86,570 in restitution. Acosta has been in custody since his arrest in 2013 and will begin serving his sentence immediately. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Frey prosecuted the case.

Updated: 10/19/2016