Nine Alleged Members and Associates of the Texas Syndicate Prison Gang are Indicted for Violating the RICO Statute -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nine Alleged Members and Associates of the Texas Syndicate Prison Gang are Indicted for Violating the RICO Statute

MCALLEN, Texas, April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- A four-count indictment chargingnine South Texas men with various murders, kidnapping and drug trafficking togain or maintain entrance or increase their positions with the TexasSyndicate prison gang has been unsealed, United States Attorney DonDeGabrielle and Special Agent-in-Charge J. Dewey Webb of the Bureau ofAlcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced today. All ninedefendants are charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer InfluencedCorrupt Organization statute, and face life imprisonment, if convicted.

"ATF is determined to reduce violent crime by gang members and willcontinue to use all resources such as RICO statutes to make our streets safe,"said Webb, Special Agent in Charge of ATF's Houston Field Division.

During the early morning hours of March 28, an arrest team comprised ofagents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and officerswith the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested Fidel Valle, a.k.a. Hito,41, at his residence in Donna, TX. The indictment alleges Valle was a majordrug supplier for the Texas Syndicate (TS) in the Rio Grande Valley. Valleappeared before a federal magistrate today and has been ordered temporarilydetained pending a hearing on the government's motion to detain him withoutbond pending trial in this case. That hearing has been set for Friday, April6, 2007. A second defendant, Benjamin Piedra a.k.a. Piedra, 31 of Weslaco,TX, an alleged soldier of the Texas Syndicate, was arrested this morning,Tuesday, April 3, 2007, is also set for a detention hearing on Friday.

Arrest warrants for the remaining six defendants have been delivered tothe various Texas state prison facilities where the remaining defendants arepresently incarcerated. Court orders directing their transfer to federalcustody in McAllen to face these pending charges will be served in the nearfuture. The six awaiting transfer are:

JOSE ISMAEL SALAS a.k.a. Smiley, 35 of Edinburg, TX, who was the mostinfluential member of the Rio Grande Valley chapter of the Texas Syndicate(TS) enterprise according to allegations in the indictment.

ROMEO ROSALES a.k.a. Ro, Roy, 36 of Raymondville, TX, and NOEL DE LOSSANTOS a.k.a. Boy, 29 of Donna, TX, and JUAN PABLO HINOJOSA a.k.a. Gordo, ofWeslaco, TX, who were, according to the indictment, TS soldiers and ruleenforcers for the enterprise.

ADAN ROBERTO RUIZ a.k.a. UCLA, 38 of Edinburg, TX, JOSE ARMANDO GARCIA,JR. a.k.a. Mando, Mandio, 32 of Mission, TX; and JORGE PUGA a.k.a. Puga, 26 ofEdinburg, TX, are all alleged soldiers of the TS.

The Texas Syndicate, one of the dominant prison gang in the state ofTexas, originated during the 1970's and operates inside and outside jail andprison facilities as a criminal enterprise with the purpose of enriching themembers and associates of the gang through the distribution of narcotics androbberies, according to the indictment. It is alleged that members, prospectsor potential members, and associates of the prison gang preserve and protectthe territory and profits of their illegal enterprise through he use ofintimidation, violence, threats of violence, assaults and murders. Bound bya strict set of rules, members of the gang are members for life and subject tostrict and harsh discipline, including death, for violating the rules of thegang.

According to the indictment returned under seal by a McAllen grand jury onTuesday, March 27, 2007, and unsealed today, beginning in January 1999 throughthe present, the defendants were engaged in a pattern of racketeering activitythrough their membership or association with the Texas Syndicate prison gang,a criminal enterprise, and one or more of the defendants allegedly engaged inthree murders, one kidnapping, one attempted murder and trafficking in cocaineand marijuana, all through and in aid of the criminal enterprise.

Salas, Ruiz and Hinojosa are expected to appear in federal court onThursday, April 5, 2007. Defendants Garcia, de los Santos, Puga andRosales are scheduled to appear in federal court on Thursday, April 12,2007.

The three-year investigative effort resulting in the return of thisindictment was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms andExplosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Hidalgo CountySheriff's Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the TexasDepartment of Criminal Justice. The case is being prosecuted by AssistantU.S. Attorney Robert Wells, Jr and Ted Imperato of the Southern District ofTexas.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through dueprocess of law.

Contact: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, (713) 567-9301

SOURCE U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas