Anti-Gang Effort Leads to Hefty Sentences as 10 Members and Associates of Texas Syndicate Street/Prison Gang Sentenced
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 23, 2009|
HOUSTON—Ten members and associates of a notorious street/prison gang have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms over the course of the last two weeks, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The sentences represent the first waive of hearings scheduled for the group after an 11-count indictment was returned in February 2007 charging 17 Houston area men with various murders, armed robberies and drug trafficking committed to gain or maintain entrance or increase their positions with the Texas Syndicate prison gang. Fourteen of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute.
“This gang was a violent group and its activities impacted not only the prisons in which their base of power resides but also our communities,” said Johnson. “This prosecution represents the continuing cooperative law enforcement efforts in this district to combat this activity and stop the violence of violent street and prison gangs.”
Willie Valdez, aka Jacker, was sentenced to 27 years' imprisonment, while Rene Gonzales Jr., aka Slick or Amor Slick, and Johnny Perez Jr., aka Payaso or Ki Ki each received 22 year-terms. Francisco Nuncio Jr., aka Frank or Butcher, and Roberto Ybarra, aka Little Rob, were both sentenced to 20 years. Michael Thaman, aka Mikeo, received 17 1/2 years, while James Kessler was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Jesus Galvan Jr., aka Jesse or Peanut, and Roberto Garza, aka Flaco, both received sentences of 12 years each, while Michael Almaraz, aka Little Mike, and Robbie Lee Danas, aka Sleepy, were sentenced to 10 years and more than seven years of imprisonment, respectively. Each will serve his sentence without possibility of parole. The remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in November 2009.
The Texas Syndicate, one of the dominant prison gang in the state of Texas, originated during the 1970s 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. Its members, prospects or potential members, and associates of the prison gang preserve and protect the territory and profits of their illegal enterprise through the 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.
Beginning in August 1999 through February 2006, 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 engaged in three murders, two attempted murders, conspiracy to commit murder, five aggravated robberies or trafficked in cocaine and marijuana, all through and in aid of the criminal enterprise.
The five-year investigative effort resulting in the return of this indictment was conducted by the FBI, the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Baytown Police Department with assistance from the United States Bureau of Prisons and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim S. Braley of the Southern District of Texas.