Crackdowns on violent gangs send more members to federal prison

Texas Mexican Mafia is a violent drug and criminal gang. (Photos from TX DPS & U.S. Customs/Border)

Mexican Mafia and Zeta Cartel leaders sent to prison for 30 years each

 “In being a criminal organization we will function in any aspect of criminal interest for the benefit of advancement of Mexikanemi. We will traffic in drugs, contracts of assassination, prostitution, robbery of high magnitude and in anything we can imagine.” –Texas Mexican Mafia’s constitution

Leaders of two different gang cartels have been ordered to prison following their hearings in a Texas federal court Friday. A 30-year old member of the Texas Mexican Mafia was sentenced to 168 months, while a 50-year old leader of the Zeta cartel was sentenced to 30 years.

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The Texas Mexican Mafia is believed to be behind the killing of slain Balcones Heights police officer Julian Pesina, who had reportedly been dealing drugs for the gang, in May 2014. Ruben “Menace” Reyes of the gang was charged with ordering Pesina’s killing.

Ruben ‘Menace’ Reyes reportedly ordered the assassination of Balcones Heights police officer Julian Pesina. TX DPS)

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana ordered Texas Mafia member Mario Alberto Rodriguez to prison for possessing heroin with the intent to distribute. He was convicted along with other members of prison gang. He was one of several members who delivered loads of heroin for the main distributor, Juan Pablo Contreras. The wholesale heroin was distributed to Laredo, San Antonio and Austin.  Pablo Contreras, 43, was sentenced last year to 390 months in federal prison.

The Texas Mexican Mafia, despite having the word “Mexican” in its name, is not originally from Mexico. They are not associated with the California Mexican Mafia. (TX DPS)

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Zeta member Ivan Velasquez-Caballero, aka Talivan or 50, to a sentence of 360 months, with an imposed forfeiture order of $10 million for his convictions.  He conspired to distribute and possessed illegal drugs and launder monetary instruments, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.

Velasquez-Caballero was a plaza boss for Nuevo Laredo in 2004 under the Gulf Cartel and one of the leaders of the Zetas drug cartel from 2005 until his arrest by Mexican authorities in August 2012. He pleaded guilty April 7, 2014.

At the hearing, the court noted that here was sufficient evidence to show that the Zetas were probably responsible for starting the violence that still plagues Mexico today, stating that even though it has morphed into something different now, Velasquez-Caballero had some responsibility for that. Not a U.S. citizen, Velasquez-Caballero is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

Texas Department of Public Safety photo (TX DPS)

He was sent to prison from charges stemming from Feb. 17, 2010 indictments of him and 33 others with 47 counts alleging drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to kidnap and murder U. S. citizens in a foreign country, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, solicitation, as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking and interstate travel in aid of racketeering charges.

During the hearing, the court also heard from the father of a missing Laredo woman. He stated that Velasquez-Caballero had information about her disappearance and that he would like an opportunity to sit down with him to talk about that matter. While the court was not holding Velasquez-Caballero personally responsible for the murders that were committed in this case, the court noted that he was a ranking member when those murders were ordered. Judge Alvarez recounted each of the murders that were part of the indictment and reflected on the testimony of the mother of one of the victims. The court noted that the mother’s plea for information as to the location of her son’s body so he could be given a proper burial had stuck with the court.

The drug conspiracy involved the importation and distribution of 150 kilograms or more of cocaine and 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana from Mexico into the United States. Millions of dollars in drug proceeds and over 100 firearms were also exported from the United States to Velasquez-Caballero and others in Mexico.

To date, 15 others have been convicted by plea or trial.

 

Luis Robert Vera, Jr. Law office 

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