A federal judge sentenced Sylvia Olivas, 73, who was convicted earlier this year on several charges related to her role as a “secretary” to an imprisoned Mexican Mafia member who controlled a street gang (Canta Ranas) to 151 months in federal prison. The jury found Olivas guilty of participating in three separate conspiracies – one to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, a second involving the trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin, and a third centered on money laundering.
For at least a decade, Olivas served as the secretary to her brother, David Gavaldon, a long-time member of the Canta Ranas street gang who was not charged in this case as he is serving a life-without-parole sentence in Pelican Bay State Prison. From prison, Gavaldon exerted control over Canta Ranas and other gangs, and he received compensation in the form of “rent” or “taxes” generated by drug trafficking and other offenses committed in gang territory.
Olivas was among 51 defendants charged in a 2016 federal grand jury indictment targeting Canta Ranas members and associates. Nearly all of those defendants have been convicted, including Jose Loza, the “shotcaller” of the Santa Fe Springs and Whittier-based Canta Ranas gang, who was sentenced in March to life plus an additional 30 years in federal prison.