The Chicago Syndicate: Mexican Mafia

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Showing posts with label Mexican Mafia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexican Mafia. Show all posts

Friday, April 07, 2023

Member of Mexican Mafia Arrested by US Border Patrol #Laredo #MexicanMafia

Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Laredo South Station arrested a gang member with an extensive criminal history in Laredo, Texas.

U.S. Border Patrol agents while working their assigned duties apprehended several individuals near the Rio Grande. Border Patrol agents proceeded to transport the individuals to the Laredo South Station for processing. After record checks were conducted it was determined that all the individuals were in the country illegally.

In the group, a 44-year-old male Mexican national, Julian Duarte-Cazares, was identified as a Mexican Mafia gang member. Duarte-Cazares has an extensive criminal history that includes prior felony convictions for Aggravated Assault with a Weapon, Robbery, and several immigration violations.

Duarte-Cazares will be held pending processing for felony Re-Entry.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Danny Roman, AKA Popeye, a Leader of the Mexican Mafia is Whacked in Prison by Bad Hombres

Danny Roman, a Mexican Mafia member who controlled swaths of South Los Angeles from various prison cells throughout California, was stabbed to death Wednesday at a substance abuse treatment facility in Corcoran, the state prison system said Thursday.

Danny Roman, AKA Popeye" a Leader of the Mexican Mafia is Whacked in Prison

Around 11 a.m., two inmates — Raul Alvarado and Edward Cisneros — began stabbing Roman in the body and face, according to a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Roman, 64, was taken to the prison’s medical facility and pronounced dead.

Alvarado, 47, is a Mexican Mafia member from Lennox known as “Spy,” according to a source who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity. The source said Alvarado and Cisneros attacked Roman on the facility’s yard.

Alvarado is serving a life sentence for murder and has been in state custody since 1994, according to the corrections department. Cisneros, 31, is also serving a life sentence for murder and has been incarcerated since 2013. The two men have been placed in segregated housing while the corrections department and the Kings County district attorney investigate Roman’s killing.

Roman had been a state prisoner since 1985, when he began serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder, the department said.

Roman, known as “Popeye,” was the leader of Harpys, a Latino street gang in South Central Los Angeles. On May 16, 1988, three years after entering the state prison system, Roman was inducted into the Mexican Mafia, a Los Angeles police detective wrote in an affidavit seeking court permission to intercept Roman’s daughter’s phone calls.

The Mexican Mafia is a criminal syndicate of about 140 members, most of them incarcerated, which controls virtually every Latino street gang in Southern California.

As a member of the syndicate, authorities said in court documents, Roman was authorized to collect narcotics and extortion proceeds from not just his own gang but a panoply of others in South Los Angeles: 38th Street, 36th Street, Primera Flats, Playboys and East Side Trece, among others.

By 2012, Roman controlled a territory in South Los Angeles bordered by Alameda Street to the east, Western Avenue to the west, Washington Boulevard to the north and Imperial Highway to the south, according to a federal indictment charging 18 Harpys members and associates, including Roman’s daughter, Vianna, with racketeering, drug trafficking and various violent crimes.

Prosecutors painted Vianna Roman as her father’s surrogate, visiting him at a maximum-security wing in Pelican Bay State Prison and relaying orders to underlings in Los Angeles to extort, assault and kill. She pleaded guilty in 2014 to racketeering, drug trafficking and firearms offenses and is serving a 15-year sentence at a federal prison in Victorville.

Inside her market on Compton Avenue, Villamar Tortilleria y Carniceria, Vianna Roman met with her father’s lieutenants, discussed gangland politics and collected extortion payments, or “taxes,” LAPD Det. Richard Jaramillo wrote in an affidavit seeking a judge’s approval to tap her phone.

Gang members called it “the meat shop.” On the 25th of every month, Danny Roman’s emissaries collected $5,000 to $6,000 from 15 gangs in South Los Angeles and turned it over at the meat shop, Jaramillo wrote, citing intelligence from turncoats within Roman’s organization. Several informants told law enforcement that people had been “tortured, assaulted and murdered” inside the meat shop, the affidavit said.

A particularly rich prize for the Romans, Jaramillo wrote, was the Alameda Swap Meet, at the intersection of Alameda Street and Vernon Avenue in South Los Angeles. Extorting vendors at the flea market “generates an extreme amount of revenue for the Mexican Mafia,” Jaramillo wrote.

By 2012, the indictment charging his daughter said, Danny Roman had gained the exclusive right to shake down the swap meet. An underling drew up a list of resistant vendors, identifying the outstanding extortion payments as “union dues,” the indictment said.

Those who didn’t pay or contacted the police were evicted from the market or assaulted, according to the indictment. One Harpys member vowed to kill any vendor who cooperated with law enforcement, it said.

Danny Roman’s underlings, who couldn’t send money to his prison account without arousing suspicion, used fake names and enlisted girlfriends and wives to kick up his cut, Jaramillo wrote.

Before his daughter’s indictment, prison officials seized $24,000 from Danny Roman’s inmate trust account, suspecting it came from extortion and drug trafficking, the affidavit said. Prisoners can use money from their accounts to buy items at the commissary, such as snacks and hygiene products, that range in price from 25 cents to a few dollars.

Thanks to Matthew Ormseth.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

6 Members of Canta Ranas, Linked to Mexican Mafia, Convicted by Operation Frog Legs

Six people who authorities say are linked to the violent, Mexican Mafia-linked street gang known as the Canta Ranas Organization have been convicted of racketeering and drug trafficking charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

The criminal convictions were handed down in two jury trials. The Cantas Ranas primarily operate in Santa Fe Springs and Whittier, and those convicted range from ages 56 to 25.

“This dangerous organization caused misery in several communities by regularly engaging in acts of violence, drug trafficking and other criminal acts,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement from the DOJ.

Four of the defendants were convicted in a trial that ended on Aug. 27 and the other two were convicted this week. They all face maximum possible sentences of life in federal prison, with four facing minimum prison terms of 10 years and one facing a minimum of five years.

A senior member of the Canta Ranas gang known as “Boxer,” 56-year-old Enrique Holguin, is already currently serving a life sentence for murder. He was convicted in the August trial.

According to federal prosecutors, Holguin was in direct communication with the gang’s leader, David Gavaldon, who is also a member of the Mexican Mafia. Holguin played a key role in carrying out the gang’s activities by setting up a group of Mexican Mafia-affiliated inmates for controlling illegal activities — called a “mesa” — at the California Institute for Men in Chino, prosecutors said.

He was also convicted in the attempted assault of a fellow inmate at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown L.A. The inmate being targeted was believed to be an informant for law enforcement, prosecutors said. For that crime, Holguin was found guilty of committing a violent act in aid of racketeering.

The other three gang members convicted in the August trial are 31-year-old Donald Goulet, also known as “Wacky,” 33-year-old Emanuel Higuera, who’s also known as “Blanco” and 25-year-old Juan Nila.

Goulet was described by federal prosecutors as a “foot soldier” who committed violent crimes, trafficked drugs and collected extortionate “taxes” on behalf of the Canta Ranas and Gavaldon himself. He was also involved with helping Gavaldon spread the gang’s territory into the Riverside area, prosecutors said.

During one home invasion robbery committed with a co-conspirator, Goulet tied up the victims with duct tape at gun point as the pair ransacked the home, according to federal prosecutors. For all the crimes, Goulet was found guilty of conspiracy racketeering charges, along with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Meanwhile, Higuera was actually part of another gang called the Brown Brotherhood, which was also controlled by Gavaldon, according to prosecutors. But he was convicted of trafficking drugs on behalf of the Canta Ranas. Along with  racketeering charges, he was found guilty of methamphetamine-related offenses — including one that involved him attempting to assault law enforcement officers, prosecutors said.

Nila pleaded guilty to racketeering and drug trafficking conspiracy charges on the second day of the August trial. That trial ended after three weeks of testimony.

The trial that ended this week delivered convictions against 40-year-old Monica Rodriguez, also known as “Smiley,” and Alexis Jaimez, 30, who is also known as “Lex,” according to prosecutors.

Acting as the “eyes and ears on the street” for Cantas Ranas gang leader Gavaldon, Rodriguez was a so-called secretary for him, federal prosecutors said in a news release. She was seen asking Gavaldon to order the death of another gang member in video that was shown to the jury, prosecutors said. At the time, she was meeting with Gavaldon while he was housed at Pelican Bay State Prison, the only supermax prison in California.

Jaimez was described as a “foot soldier” by federal prosecutors, who said she was involved in a gang-related assault that left the victim with permanent, severe injuries. Evidence of her involvement in that assault was presented at trial. Prosecutors also said she was also part of a “failed scheme to smuggle drugs into a California state prison.”

All of the defendant are expected to be sentenced later this year by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner.

The convictions stem from a federal grand jury indictment that charged 48 defendants in June 2016. There’s still another 38 defendants, and beginning in November, they will all be scheduled to go to trial in groups.

The larger case is the result of Operation “Frog Legs,” a three-year investigation that seized dozens of firearms and pounds of narcotics including methamphetamine. The various agencies involved in assisting that investigation include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the IRS, the Whittier Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Southern California Drug Task Force — which is led by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Reputed Mexican Mafia Leader Allegedly Ordered Killing of his Lieutenant from Prison

Prosecutors announced the indictment of eight alleged members of the Orange County Mexican Mafia involving a robbery that left a man dead and an attempted murder of one of their own in Placentia.

Suspected gang leader Johnny Martinez, 42, was incarcerated in the Salinas Valley State Prison in Monterey County when he allegedly orchestrated the crimes in 2017. He was already in prison for murder and two counts of attempted murder, officials said.

Martinez communicated with his No. 2 man, Gregory David Munoz, a 30-year-old inmate at the Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County, in connection with the murder of Robert Rios outside the victim's Placentia home, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Munoz allegedly contacted three other accused gang members-Ysrael Jacob Cordova, 33, Ricardo Valenzuela, 38, and Augustine Velasquez, 22-to take money and drugs from Rios, according to officials.

Munoz then directed a man named Charles Coghill to retrieve a Chrysler 300 and semiautomatic firearms in Santa Ana, drive to an Anaheim hotel and pick up Cordova, Valenzuela and Velasquez on Jan. 19, 2017, OCDA said.

Cordova, Valenzuela and Velasquez then allegedly got out of the vehicle armed with the weapons, walked through Rios' front gate and confronted the victim in the front yard. Cordova shot Rios in the chest and left leg before he and the two others fled, according to prosecutors.

Emergency responders found the victim unresponsive outside the residence. He was later declared dead of a gunshot wound, OCDA said.

Security cameras at the home captured the crime, the agency said.

On or around July 28, 2017, Martinez allegedly directed Frank Mosqueda, 39, of writing a "kite" or message authorizing the murder of Munoz, his former top associate who had been released from prison.

Martinez read a text message from Munoz saying he was at his girlfriend's home in Placentia, according to OCDA. He then texted 30-year-old Omar Mejia, an inmate at Calipatria State Prison, to organize Munoz's murder, the agency said.

Mejia then allegedly asked Mosqueda, who was living in Huntington Beach, and Robert Martinez of Corona to commit the murder.

That evening, the two met in Placentia and drove to Munoz's location, OCDA said.

Shortly after 11:11 p.m., the pair assaulted Munoz and two female victims outside a home in Placentia, according to prosecutors. Mosqueda allegedly shot Munoz eight times, hitting him seven times in the legs back and arm. He also aimed the gun in the foreheads of the the other victims, OCDA said.

Munoz was taken to the hospital and survived his injuries, the agency added.

Placentia police arrested Mosqueda at his parole office in Irvine on Aug 8, 2017. Robert Martinez had been in custody at Orange County Jail, according to OCDA.

Johnny Martinez was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, murder, first-degree residential burglary and street terrorism in Rios' murder. If convicted as charged, he could face life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

In the second incident, he was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and street terrorism. He could face 75 years to life in state prison if convicted of those charges.

Charges against Munoz, Cordova, Valenzuela and Velasquez included conspiracy to commit a crime, murder, first-degree residential burglary and street terrorism. All of them could face life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

Robert Martinez, Mejia, Mosqueda were charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of of assault with a semiautomatic firearms and street terrorism. Robert Martinez and Mosqueda were also charged with one count each of being a felon in possession of a firearms.

They could face 75 years to life in state prison.

Coghill, the accused driver in the January 2017 murder, was charged in a separate case, according to OCDA.

"Our recommendation to the [Department of Corrections] is that these people be put some place and watched in some manner so they can't make these communications," O.C. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

The Mexican Mafia became "much more active and violent" since Johnny Martinez took control of the Orange County Jails in 2016, according to the agency. "You can't really predict who's the next straw man to come along when one gets deposed," Rackauckas said.

Monday, July 31, 2017

How the Mexican Mafia Wields Power beyond Prison #LaEme

Mexican Mafia, God, family — in that order.

That’s how one expert described the power and influence the notorious prison gang, also known as “La Eme,” holds over people in prison or county jail, as well as those on the outside.

In a 2007 article published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, writer Tony Rafael — who spent years researching the Mexican Mafia — explained in an interview how the gang’s leaders give orders to members of Hispanic or Latino street gangs that could include harassing, assaulting or killing others on its behalf.

Failure to follow orders is usually punished, often violently.

“When you click up with a gang that’s loyal to the Mexican Mafia, the Mexican Mafia comes before God, your family, and your friends going all the way back to childhood,” said Rafael, who published a book on the subject in 2009 (The Mexican Mafia). “When they tell you to do something, you gotta do it.”

It will be interesting to see how that notion plays in San Diego Superior Court, where 20 people are facing charges related to their alleged association with the prison gang.

Twelve men and eight women stand accused of various felonies after a three-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Emero,” conducted by a multi-agency gang task force. The investigation was led by the Sheriff’s Department, FBI and a special services unit of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Some of the defendants pleaded not guilty this week in San Diego Superior Court to charges including extortion, kidnapping, assault likely to produce great bodily injury, drug possession for sale and conspiracy to commit assault, arson, robbery and torture.

Others, including defendants now in prison on other convictions, are expected to be arraigned over the next few weeks.

Felix Aguirre, a retired San Diego police detective who conducts training and information sessions on gangs, said the Mexican Mafia is one of several prison gangs that thrive in correctional institutions in California and across the country.

“It basically controls everything from prostitution to drugs — a lot of the criminal activities within the institutions,” he said.

When someone is sent to prison, it’s typical for that person to seek out a group of inmates he can identify with — usually other members of the same race — for protection and safety, Aguirre said. Those who associate with the Mexican Mafia may eventually be told to “put in work” for the gang, either inside a prison or jail, or out on the streets.

The “carnales,” loosely translated from Spanish as “brothers,” are the leaders of the organization, the “shot-callers,” Aguirre said. Below them are the “comrades,” the second-tier leaders, and then the crew members or associates who carry out their orders. They also tend to rely on women — perhaps wives or girlfriends of the carnales — to communicate their directives on the street.

The gang is known to take a “tax” from anyone carrying out other criminal activities in areas claimed by the prison gang. In other words, if dealers are selling drugs in Mexican Mafia territory, they have to pay a percentage to the gang. If they don’t, the gang will still find a way to collect.

“The consequences are assault, violent robberies … They take what they want,” Aguirre said.

Prosecutors in San Diego County haven’t revealed many details about the new case, but have said the defendants operated in two groups, one of which was led by federal prisoner Jose Alberto “Bat” Marquez, the other by California death row inmate Ronaldo Ayala.

Neither is charged in the San Diego case, presumably because both men are expected to spend the rest of their lives locked away from the rest of society. But their names appear multiple times throughout the 40-page complaint in a long list of “overt acts” prosecutors included to support the charges.

Among them, Marquez is accused of directing a female defendant to give an inmate “knuckles” over a drug debt. On another occasion, Marquez told the same defendant to slap a woman and collect the money she owed him, according to prosecutors.

They say Ayala used a contraband cellphone to make calls from death row, including one in which he authorized the stabbing of an inmate at Centinela state prison in Imperial County in April.

Thanks to Dana Littlefield.

Monday, April 18, 2016

More Than 20 Mexican Mafia Gang Members Arrested in Historic Raids

"Not in my town." That's the message Seguin police hope they got across to gangs.

Nearly a dozen raids were executed as the result of an 18-month long investigation into the Mexican Mafia.

Seguin police say that, as a result, they've put a dent in the gang and drug activity in their community.

Among the day's take: piles of drugs, $60,000 in cash, and several weapons removed from nearly a dozen locations where Mexican Mafia gang members were known to operate. "We do believe that this is going to cause an incredibly serious interruption in the Mexican Mafia in this region," Seguin Police Department Deputy Chief Bruce Ure said.

The investigation into the drug activity began in Seguin 18 months ago with other local, state and federal agencies helping with the execution of those search warrants. "The operation spanned as far west as San Antonio and went as far east as the Houston area. And as far north as New Braunfels," Deputy Chief Ure said.

All the arrests resulted in federal and state drug charges.

One woman at the scene says her family has no affiliation with the Mexican Mafia. "There's no gang members here. They need to get their investigation straight before they come accusing," said Amy Herrera, whose family's home was raided. But police say that all of the locations raided Friday were known to have drug activity. "They are all known Mexican Mafia gang members and if you know anything about the Mexican Mafia, they're a vicious, vicious gang," Deputy Chief Ure said.

It's a gang they hope they have sent a strong message to. "Our gang members need to know whether you're in the MS13, or the Mexican Mafia, or where ever you are. If you're in our region, you're on our radar," Deputy Chief Ure said.

Those that were arrested remain behind bars, including a high-ranking "lieutenant," until their detention hearings in federal court.

Authorities say they are still searching for three other men wanted for drug charges.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Police Raids Target #MexicanMafia Prison Gang and #LaFamilia Drug Cartel

Raids were carried out in Montebello Tuesday as part of two investigations targeting the Mexican Mafia prison gang.

Authorities say a drug cartel based in Mexico, a South Central Los Angeles street gang and the Mexican Mafia worked together for millions of dollars in drug sales.

The investigations began more than three years ago and involved a number of agencies at the federal, state and local levels. The investigations culminated with the arrests in Montebello.

Authorities busted up what they described as a business merger between La Familia drug cartel, based in Michoacan, Mexico, a South Central Los Angeles street gang and the Mexican Mafia prison gang.

Investigators say apparently, the drug cartel would supply methamphetamine and marijuana, and the street gang would protect the shipments and money. The Mexican Mafia prison gang handled the distribution and proceeds for a fee.

Law enforcement agencies say in the past three years since the investigations began, more than 600 pounds of methamphetamine have been confiscated or seized, with a total street value of just over $19 million.

More than a dozen arrests including members of the South Central street gang and La Familia associates in Southern California have been made from San Diego to Visalia.

A number of alleged gang members were arrested Tuesday and were processed at the Montebello Police Department.

Thanks to Sid Garcia.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Office Announces Charges in Reputed Assassination Plot by Mexican Mafia Gangsters

On Wednesday, three gang members were charged with plotting to assassinate Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

According to a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) press release, investigators within the MCSO's Threats Unit "arrested three maximum security inmates for conspiracy to commit murder stemming from a complex plot from assassinating Sheriff Arpaio to killing a fellow inmate."

Those charged were Mexican Mafia gang members Mark Cons, 33, and Rudolfo Santos, 37, both of whom are currently being held in the 4th Avenue Jail on other felony charges. Also charged was Samuel Matta, 29, who is described as "a member of a documented street gang" and currently incarcerated in the state prison in Florence. All three have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Samuel Matta was reportedly planning to publicly assassinate Sheriff Arpaio with a high powered rifle once he was released from jail. However, he failed to make bond and was unable to carry out his plan. Matta "believed that the sheriff was personally responsible for the deportation of some of his members of his family to Mexico from their home in El Mirage, AZ,” the release states.

Sheriff Arpaio told reporters: “Given our jailhouse clientele, my staff is always monitoring situations which can potentially lead to violent criminal activity both inside and outside of the jail walls. In this case, their professionalism and perseverance prevented two potential murders.”

According to the MCSO, this is the third assassination plot against the sheriff uncovered this year alone.

Of course, Sheriff Arpaio is arguably the most high-profile law enforcement official in the country, as always, with increased notoriety comes increased danger.

This, combined with Arpaio's tough stance on illegal immigration, the numerous arrests he has made of both drug and human smugglers and his refusal to back down against the Obama administration, it is little wonder the five-time sheriff is so often targeted.

In March, the MCSO's Cold Case Posse announced that their investigation uncovered evidence suggesting Obama’s birth documentation is fraudulent.

Arpaio is set to hold another news conference on July 17, in which he has promised to announce more "shocking" evidence against President Obama's eligibility.

Thanks to Dave Gibson.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mexican Drug Cartels Now Established as Full-Fledged Mafia Organizations

Shopkeepers in this pine-covered mountain region easily recite the list of "protection" fees they pay to La Familia drug cartel to stay in business: 100 pesos a month for a stall in a street market, 30,000 pesos for an auto dealership or construction-supply firm.

First offense for nonpayment: a severe beating. Those who keep ignoring the fees — or try to charge their own — may pay with their lives.

"Every day you can see the people they have beaten up being taken to the IMSS," said auto mechanic Jesus Hernandez, motioning to the government-run hospital a few doors from his repair shop.

Mexican drug cartels have morphed into full-scale mafias, running extortion and protection rackets and trafficking everything from people to pirated DVDs. As once-lucrative cocaine profits have fallen and U.S. and Mexican authorities crack down on all drug trafficking to the U.S., gangs are branching into new ventures — some easier and more profitable than drugs.

The expansion has major implications as President Felipe Calderon continues his 2½-year-old drug war, which has killed more than 11,000 people and turned formerly tranquil rural towns such as Ciudad Hidalgo into major battlefronts.

Organized crime is seeping into Mexican society in ways not seen before, making it ever more difficult to combat. Besides controlling businesses, cartels provide jobs and social services where government has failed.

"Today, the traffickers have big companies, education, careers," said Congresswoman Yudit del Rincon of Sinaloa state, which has long been controlled by the cartel of the same name. "They're businessman of the year, they even head up social causes and charitable foundations."

Local officials say they do not have the manpower to investigate cartel rackets and refer such cases to the state, which hands them over to overloaded federal agents because organized crime is a federal offense. A federal police report released in April notes that often no one confronts the cartels, "not the police, because in many cases there is probably corruption, and not the public, because they live in terror."

After media reports questioned whether Mexico was becoming a failed state, Calderon insisted to The Associated Press in February that his country is in the hands of Mexican authorities.

"Even me, as president, I can visit any single point of the territory," he said. He has since sent 5,500 extra military and police officers to fight drug lords in Michoacan — his home state. But in Ciudad Hidalgo and neighboring Zitacuaro, mayors have been jailed and charged with working for La Familia cartel, which controls swaths of central and western Mexico. Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators with low tires and chrome rims patrol the streets of Zitacuaro, even as trucks of army troops roll past.

In the Michoacan mountain town of Arteaga, La Familia boss Servando Gomez Martinez is revered for giving townspeople money for food, clothing and even medical care.

"He is a country man just like us, who wears huaraches," a farmer said of one of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords, pointing to his own open-toed leather sandals. He asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation.

"It's almost like Chicago, when Al Capone ruled everything," said a senior U.S. law enforcement official who was not authorized to be quoted by name. "They control everything from the shoeshine boy to the taxi driver."

Mexican cartels gained their dominance in drug trafficking in the mid-1980s, when U.S. drug agents and the Colombian government cracked down on Colombian cartels and drug routes through the Caribbean. The vast majority of cocaine headed to the U.S. started going through Mexico.

In the meantime, trade in pirated and other smuggled goods in Mexico traditionally was carried out by small gangs centered around extended families or neighborhood rings.

In the last five to 10 years, Mexican cartels created domestic drug markets and carved out local territories, using a quasi-corporate structure, firepower and gangs of hit men to control other illicit trades as well. Federal prosecutors now call them "organized crime syndicates" and say their tactics — such as charging a "turf tax" to do business in their territory — mirror the Italian mafia.

"They adopt a business model as if they were franchises, except they are characterized by violence," according to a federal police briefing report.

In June, soldiers in the northern city of Monterrey caught members of the Zetas cartel producing and distributing pirated DVDs and controlling street vendors with protection fees. Also in Monterrey, top Gulf cartel lieutenant Sigifrido Najera Talamantes ran kidnapping and extortion rings while trafficking migrants and crude oil stolen from the pipelines of Mexico's state-owned oil company, Pemex, according to the army.

Najera Talamantes, who was arrested in March, allegedly charged migrant smugglers to pass through his territory, took a cut from street vendors and oversaw trafficking in stolen goods, said Army Gen. Luis Arturo Oliver.

In Durango state, residents of Cuencame dug ditches around their town earlier this year to keep out roving bands of drug hit men kidnapping people at will.

"Even with the ditches, they still came in and kidnapped five people," said a Cuencame official who asked his name not be used for fear of retaliation.

In late 2008, almost all the betting parlors in the border state of Tamaulipas closed because of demands for protection money, according to Alfonso Perez, the head of the Mexican association of betting parlors.

In northern states such as Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, cartels also are blamed for businesses closing or burning if they don't pay protection fees.

Last year, mayors of more than a dozen towns throughout the state of Mexico received threatening phone calls demanding that $10,000 to $50,000 be deposited in bank accounts. State investigators say many of the threats mentioned links to the Gulf cartel.

Salvador Vergara, mayor of the resort town of Ixtapan de la Sal, received threats and was shot to death in October. State authorities believe that he didn't pay and refused to allow gangs to operate in his township.

Families in parts of the central state of Zacatecas went without cooking gas for several days in January, after gangs demanded protection fees of the gas-delivery trucks, and drivers refused to make their rounds. Deliveries resumed only after the state government increased security patrols on the local roads.

Extortion threats reported to federal police skyrocketed from about 50 in 2002 to about 50,000 in 2008, according to Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna. Because of the spike, the Mexican government this year launched a nationwide anti-extortion program, creating a national database to track protection rackets and promising to protect even business owners too scared to file formal complaint.

While the results of the new complaint system are still meager, the government recently moved to go after cartel finances. In April, Congress approved a law allowing the government to seize properties and money from suspected drug traffickers and other criminals before they are convicted. In the past, suspects had to be convicted before their property could be seized, and trials often last years in Mexico.

Still, the gangs have created elaborate systems to avoid property seizures and to move money quickly through store-front check-cashing and wire-transfer services, according to federal police. And they have become so omnipresent that they take a cut of almost every transaction in some areas.

Javier, the owner of a small video store in Ciudad Hidalgo, got so fed up with La Familia controlling his town, he decided to sell his house and sent his two daughters to live in another state. His business had withered from the competition of street vendors selling pirated DVDs for La Familia. But when he put his two-story, 1930s-era home up for sale, he got a phone call from the cartel.

"Putting up a 'for sale' sign is like sending them an invitation," said Javier, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of retaliation. "They call and say, 'How much are you selling for? Give me 20 percent.'"

Thanks to Mark Stevenson

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sonia “El Juez” Sotomayor Connected to Mexican Mafia

Senator Lindsey Graham dropped a bombshell on the confirmation hearings of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during questioning today.

Judge Sotomayor's mafia ties are plainly visible.

The reportSonia Sotomayor connected to Mexican Mafia, which Graham waved around in the air, contains serious charges that Sotomayor is hiding her true convictions as well as connections to La eMe, the Mexican Mafia. In fine detail Graham read the report to the Senate Judiciary Committee members and to Sotomayor who objected that the report was obtained illegally. As Graham read the charges Sotomayor became increasingly uncomfortable and asked for a recess in the hearings. The request was denied by the Democratic majority.

The report alleges that Sotomayor ran the Bronx chapter of the Mexican mafia from her brownstone apartment building.

“We used to see Cesar [a lieutenant in the Mexican mafia currently serving life in prison for murder] coming in and out of her [Sotomayor’s] apartment,” said Jorge Chavez who was an undercover agent for the FBI. Chavez’ testimony went on to detail that Sotomayor, known as “el Juez,” the Judge, in her underworld dealings, was a key decision-maker in the organization, going so far as to use her authority as a judge to order prisoners to institutions where the Mexican mafia could assassinate rival gang leaders as well as snitches in their own organization.

“My husband’s dead because of el Juez [Sotomayor],” said Veronica Matthews. “She used her power to have him shipped to another prison where he was killed in the exercise yard.” Matthews, wife of Hell’s Angels former second-in-command Bill “the Knife” Matthews is now in a witness protection program after Sotomayor allegedly ordered a squad of her “soldiers” to make her “go silent,” which was Sotomayor’s euphemism for murdering someone.

Chavez’ detailed reports to the FBI’s Organized Crime Taskforce also contain allegations that as “el Juez” Sotomayor’s famous ruling against New Haven Connecticut firefighters was actually to allow for more Mexican mafia members to obtain high ranking positions in the department to squelch ongoing arson investigations.

“This report concludes that Sonia Sotomayor decision directly impeded the investigation and that, furthermore, the new officers in New Haven went on to hide details of other crimes committed by La eMe,” Graham said. Sotomayor remained silent during the accusations, but she did appear to consult with several young Hispanic men who accompanied her to the hearings today. They refused to comment.

Sources in the Judiciary committee say that the majority members are holding an emergency meeting to decide whether to continue with the hearings or ask Obama to withdraw his nomination.

“If this doesn’t defeat the nomination, I’m not sure what will,” said Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the Judiciary Committee ranking member, “but I’ll find it. We’re not ready to release anything quite yet, but we are working on other reports that connect her to the Octomom as well as Michael Jackson’s drug abuse.”

Satire by Ashley Phosphate

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Mafia Has Been Replaced by Mexian Drug Cartels as the #1 Organized Crime Threat to the United States

Mexican drug cartels have displaced the mafia as the "number one organized crime threat" in the United States, Sen. Joe Lieberman said Monday as his Senate committee heard testimony in Phoenix on border violence.

Lieberman, an independent Democrat from Connecticut, and Sen. John McCain, a Republican on Lieberman's panel, told FOX News that the United States needs to step up the fight against the drug cartels. The two senators were in Arizona, McCain's home state, to hear from local officials on their advice for dealing with the drug-fueled violence many fear is spilling across the border.

"This is literally a war," said Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "They're fighting for the turf."

Lieberman has said he plans to seek $380 million in additional funding to help law enforcement stop the flow of guns and drugs across the border. On Monday, he praised Mexican President Felipe Calderon's campaign to fight the cartels, but said cartels have already taken root north of the border -- driving a kidnapping surge in Phoenix and operating, he said, in at least 230 U.S. metropolitan areas.

"The Mexican drug cartels have become the number one organized crime threat in America, displacing the mafia," Lieberman told FOX News.

McCain said the federal government needs to approve border states' requests for more National Guard troops, something Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said is under review.

"I think we can have significant control of our border," McCain said. "We should heed the governors who are having to fight this ... all the time."

But Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the Department of Defense has effectively denied her request to send 250 additional National Guard troops to the Arizona-Mexico border to help authorities battle immigrant and drug smuggling and related violence.

The governor told Lieberman's committee meeting Monday that she was disappointed with the denial of her request to bring the number of troops at her state's southern boundary up to 400. One hundred fifty troops are already there as part of a long-standing border assistance program.

The Bush administration sent thousands of Guard troops to the border to perform support duties so that federal border authorities would be freed up to focus on border security. Bush's buildup began in 2006 and ended last year.

Thanks to Fox News

Mexican Drug Cartels Working with Italian Mobsters

Mexican drug traffickers are funneling cocaine to Italian organized crime, and some shipments are moving through Dallas.

"We've got some of the major cartel members established here dealing their wares in Europe," said James Capra, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Dallas office.

Experts say warring cartels battered by unprecedented U.S. and Mexican government crackdowns are increasingly looking to Europe as an expansion market. Across the Atlantic, demand for cocaine is high and prices are up. A kilo sold for $20,000 in Dallas is worth up to three times as much overseas, experts say.

Mexican cartel operatives in North Texas "are dealing with Italy, Spain, you name it," he said. "They can operate their logistical center from here and coordinate between Mexico, Central America and Europe."

Italian capos are venturing to North Texas to get in on the action, says one mob expert.

"Places like Houston and Dallas are where these criminal organizations are most likely to invest their money," said Antonio Nicaso, an internationally recognized author and lecturer on Italian organized crime. "This is the right time, with the recession going on."

Dallas has long been a recognized distribution hub for drugs smuggled up the Interstate 35 corridor from Laredo. From here, narcotics head out across the country to Atlanta, Chicago, New England and elsewhere.

The revelation that the cartels are forming alliances with Italian syndicates came last year when the DEA revealed that the Mexican Gulf cartel, which supplies Dallas with cocaine, was working with New York associates of the powerful Italian 'Ndrangheta mafia.

Last August, the DEA arrested a Dallas County jailer accused of tipping off drug dealers to what appeared to be a small-time local narcotics conspiracy. The jailer, Brenda Medina Salinas, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. As others pleaded guilty and court documents piled up, it became clear that the drug pipeline in that case reached all the way to Europe and the clandestine world of the Camorra.

The Naples-based Camorra traces its roots to the 16th century. Ruthlessly violent when they need to be, Camorra members often smuggle behind quiet business fronts. They're known to work across ethnic and political lines.

Relatively little is known about the local Camorra associate, other than that he had ties to Dallas, Houston and Mexico. The Camorra associate was not charged in the case because agents had not developed enough information to nab him when they were forced to act because of Salinas' leaking information to co-conspirators.

Agents learned the Camorra associate's name last May. That's when DEA agents monitoring a meeting between him and his local contacts asked Dallas police to pull over the Camorra associate's car and check his identity.

He had just met with Higinio "Gino" Hernandez, a 30-year-old flooring installer from Carrollton, and Altin Kore, a 32-year-old Dallas man also charged in conspiracy. Kore is charged in the case but is a fugitive. Hernandez has pleaded guilty.

The DEA began investigating the Hernandez network after being tipped by Italian authorities in the fall of 2007. Their wiretaps on Camorra associates in Italy revealed a Dallas cocaine supplier.

Higinio Hernandez was close to his brother Henry "Tito" Hernandez, 34, of Dallas, who has also pleaded guilty. A third brother, Luis, 35, has been charged but is a fugitive.

Henry and Higinio worked for years as flooring installer subcontractors for Carpet One in Southlake.

"They were leading a double life," said prosecutor Ernest Gonzalez in Plano. "They were doing flooring by day, and at night they were conducting these drug transactions."

It was obvious to those around them that laying floors was not their only source of income.

When they were arrested last fall, federal agents seized Higinio's Cadillac Escalade and Lexus IS30, as well as Henry's Escalade.

Henry and Luis kept snapshots of themselves partying in limos with friends, booze and women. They also had dealings in Cuba, authorities say.

"They didn't hide their money," Gonzalez said.

Authorities say Higinio's supplier in Mexico was half brother Rodolfo Lopez, 35, another fugitive charged in the case.

While living in the U.S., Lopez forged the relationship with the Camorra associate and dealt with cocaine producers in Colombia and elsewhere, authorities say. Lopez eventually relocated to Mexico, where authorities say he directed shipments to his brothers in Dallas.

From Dallas, the cocaine was taken to Houston, where the Camorra associate operated a scented candle export business. It took about a month for the cocaine, smuggled amongst the candles, to make the voyage across the Atlantic to Italy.

Major ports attract Italian organized crime syndicates, which operate in at least 19 U.S. cities, according to the Justice Department's latest Drug Threat Assessment.

The Hernandez case is considered somewhat of an anomaly among law enforcement. Federal agents for years have said that the mafia has no significant grip here.

Still, after a lull, mob influence nationwide seems to be increasing, experts say. Much of their work is partnering with the Mexican distributors and Colombian producers and supplying Europe with cocaine.

It's a good time to expand to Europe, as crackdowns on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have made smuggling cocaine into Texas increasingly difficult. In the past year, authorities have arrested more than 500 Gulf Cartel and 750 rival Sinaloa Cartel members here and in Mexico.

Extraditions of Mexican narcos to the U.S. for prosecution are on the rise under President Felipe Calderón, who has deployed military troops to quell violence in border towns.

Still, a downside to dabbling in international markets is the increased scrutiny by a larger net of law enforcement agencies – which is what stopped the Hernandez ring.

Last spring, DEA agents in Dallas learned that a meeting was to take place between Higinio and the Camorra associate. On May 15, agents set up surveillance at a Chili's restaurant on Knox Street in Dallas.

It was not a pleasant meeting for Higinio. DEA agents were watching as the Italian poked a finger in his chest. The cocaine they were selling wasn't pure enough, he told Hernandez. Customers were complaining. After the meeting, Higinio reached out to his brother, Henry, to see if his own supplier, Moises Duarte, could get purer powder. But agents were forced to swoop in before any more cocaine made it to Italy.

The reason: Brenda Salinas. The 23-year-old befriended Henry Hernandez and Duarte on the club scene in Dallas, and eventually dated both men.

As a jailer with Dallas County, she had access to law enforcement databases. In July, when agents learned that she was feeding both men information, DEA agents felt they had to act. They arrested Duarte and set up stings on his cohorts.

So far, nine defendants – including Salinas – have pleaded guilty. Among them is an Albanian financial consultant from Dallas. He has ties to an ex-stockbroker being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with an alleged pump-and-dump stock scam.

According to the DEA, the investigation is ongoing.

Thanks to Jason Trahan


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