GREENFIELD, Calif. - There are a few thousand Triqui people living in Greenfield, and most of them work in the fields.
Officials investigated the case say they're hard-working people trying to make the best of life in the United States.
But for the Triqui community, a normal life comes with a price imposed by a group of Triqui men that call themselves the council.
"If you are going to marry someone, you gotta pay money; if you break up with someone, you are going to have to pay money. If you speak out against what they view to be the rules of the 'council,' you are going to have to pay money. And these were in the sums of tens of thousands of dollars," said Monterey County deputy district attorney Sulaiman Tokhi.
On Friday, the DA's office said three members of this "council" had pled guilty to felony extortion and one to a misdemeanor charge. The joint investigation found they funneled the money they took to a political group in Mexico to terrorize people there.
"Members of this council will facilitate meetings, make victims show up, and there will be calls from members of this political group in Mexico that controls the area, where the Triquis' are indigenous to. Add on the knowledge of the consequences to their family and property down south, it was a very very real thing to them," Tokhi said.
That's what prevented many of them from coming forward until 2014, when the Greenfield police got their first case.
"It kinda gave people a different perspective that they can count on us and trust us to get justice served," Sgt. Daniel Sotello said.
The DA's office said 19 people came forward to report the crimes, and law enforcement wants to encourage anyone else with information to call their Tip Line at 831-647-7725 or Greenfield Police Department at 8310674-5111.