Gang Leader Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison on Weapons and Narcotics Convictions
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 15, 2009|
WICHITA FALLS, TX—Mauricio Diaz, 34, the known leader of the Puro Lil Mafia (PLM), a violent criminal street gang that operated in Wichita Falls, Texas, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor to 360 months in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Diaz was convicted in September by a federal jury on all counts of an indictment charging him with various weapons and narcotics charges. He has been in custody since his arrest on April 8, 2009, when members of the Wichita Falls Police Department Swat Team and FBI agents executed arrest and search warrants for Diaz at his residence in Wichita Falls.
U.S. Attorney Jacks said, “Gang members who plague our communities by engaging in violent narcotics and gun crimes can expect to receive harsh sentences, such as this, in the Northern District of Texas. I applaud the cooperative efforts of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Wichita Falls Police Department, the Wichita Falls County Sheriff’s Office, the Wichita Falls City Attorney’s Office and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office for their hard work in this investigation.”
Dennis Bachman, Wichita Falls Police Chief, said, “We're very pleased with the results of this operation. The city can rest assured that this is not the end of gang enforcement efforts in Wichita Falls. The Police Department looks forward to continuing its partnership with the federal agencies involved. Wichita Falls is a safer place because of this united stand against gang activity.”
Robert E. Casey, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of Dallas FBI, said, “This collective effort on the part of the federal government and local law enforcement, who aggressively deal with drug, gun and violent gang activity here in Wichita Falls, continues to achieve positive results. The FBI remains committed to the disruption and dismantlement of these organized violent gangs.”
Specifically, Diaz was convicted at trial on one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. A total of 13 PLM gang members who were charged federally, have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 30 months to 10 years.
At trial, the government presented evidence that during the search of Diaz’s residence in April 2009, officers noted a strong smell of marijuana throughout the house and located Diaz, along with his wife and two children. Officers also located a digital scale, with what appeared to be marijuana residue, in the master bedroom. On the top of the dresser, next to the scale, was a box of plastic sandwich bags which are commonly used to package illegal narcotics. In a top drawer of the dresser, officers found two large ziplock bags containing approximately 68.7 grams of marijuana. In the next drawer, officers found a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber special revolver and a box of ammunition wrapped in a gray bandanna; more ammunition was found in the kitchen pantry. PLM members often carry or wear gray bandanas to signify their membership in the gang. Officers also found a digital pocket balance on a shelf in the closet; balances are commonly used in drug transactions.
The government also presented evidence that outside the residence, two surveillance cameras were found pointing toward the front yard and street. There was a small television on the floor in the living room that displayed the camera views. The surveillance system was in good working order. Such extensive video surveillance is also commonly used to protect places where drugs are kept.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Taly Haffar and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hector M. Valle prosecuted the case.