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April 3, 2007


(MCALLEN) A four count indictment charging nine South Texas men with various murders, kidnaping and drug trafficking to gain or maintain entrance or increase their positions with the Texas Syndicate prison gang has been unsealed, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle and ATF Special Agent-in-Charge J. Dewey Webb announced today. All nine defendants are charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization statute, and face life imprisonment, if convicted.

“ATF is determined to reduce violent crime by gang members and will continue to use all resources such as RICO statutes to make our streets safe, ” said J. Dewey Webb, Special Agent in Charge, Houston Field Division.

During the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 28, 2007, an arrest team comprised of agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and officers with 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 major drug supplier for the Texas Syndicate (TS) in the Rio Grande Valley. Valle appeared before a federal magistrate today and has been ordered temporarily detained pending a hearing on the government’s motion to detain him without bond pending trial in this case. That hearing has been set for Friday, April 6, 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 to the various Texas state prison facilities where the remaining defendants are presently incarcerated. Court orders directing their transfer to federal custody in McAllen, TX to face these pending charges will be served in the near future. The six awaiting transfer are:

JOSE ISMAEL SALAS a.k.a. Smiley, 35 of Edinburg, TX, who was the most influential 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 LOS SANTOS a.k.a. Boy, 29 of Donna, TX, and JUAN PABLO HINOJOSA a.k.a. Gordo, of Weslaco, TX, who were, according to the indictment, TS soldiers and rule enforcers 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 of Edinburg, TX, are all alleged soldiers of the TS.

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

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

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

The three year investigative effort resulting in the return of this indictment was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert Wells, Jr and Ted Imperato of the Southern District of Texas.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.



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