Some of us got a surprise the other day to learn that our fair city of Midland, Texas, is part of the territory of a violent gang of drug selling, gun running murderers.
The FBI issued the press release on March 9 announcing an indictment recently unsealed against 35 individuals, 16 of whom were already in custody, 12 of whom were just arrested, and 7 of whom are still at large, including Eduardo Ravelo who is on the FBI's top ten most wanted list with a $100,000 reward offered for information leading directly to his arrest.
They are all alleged to be members of a gang called "Barrio Azteca," which, according to the indictment was formed in 1986 as "Familia Azteca" in Texas prisons for the purpose of uniting inmates from El Paso and West Texas. Eventually they became enforcers and transporters of the Vicente Carillo-Fuentes drug organization of Juarez, Mexico.
Barrio Azteca's gangland was said to include the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico; El Paso, Midland, and Odessa, Texas; and areas of New Mexico from Sunland Park through Las Cruces.
The 57 page indict makes for shocking reading. See it for yourself at Google docs if for no other reasons than to see the quantity of drugs involved.
For example, on pages 16 and 17 they talk about various instances in 2006 and 2007 in which gang members were in possession of 18 pounds of heroin, 82.75 kilograms of cocaine, 47 pounds of marijuana, 10 kilograms of cocaine, 150 pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of marijuana, 4 kilograms of cocaine, 3 kilograms of cocaine, and on and on.
Among the charges there's a RICO conspiracy (Count 1), conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin, cocaine and marijuana (Count 2), conspiracy to import heroin, etc., (Count 3), conspiracy to launder money (Count 4), conspiracy to kill someone in a foreign country (Count 5), murder (Count 6), murder (Count 7), murder (Count 8), murder (Count 9), murder (Count 10), murder (Count 11), and finally, obstruction of justice by burning a car used in a murder (Count 12).
Some of the gang leaders may have been conducting business while in prison as some of the conspiracy allegations involve mail and telephone communication with individuals in the free world. A "kite" was someone, possibly using a fake name and address, who might send or receive letters from incarcerated gang members to try to avoid law enforcement detection. Sometimes the gang would call a meeting of key members so that orders from an incarcerated capo could be read.
Loyalty to the gang was paramount and superior to loyalties to God, country, family, or friends. A "green light" was authorization by the gang leaders to commit murder. "The target of a particular order may be a fellow BA member, blood relative, friend, or other associate of the person who is given the order."
Not very nice folks.
It must have taken much hard work and many man/woman hours to pull together the evidence for this indictment. Our hats go off to the law enforcement officers who helped bring it about, and they deserve every accolade they are sure to receive for their work.
Not to make light of that accomplishment, but somewhere I read -- can't find it now -- that the gang has about 2,000 members. And as long the illicit drug industry is so lucrative it won't take long for others to step into the jobs vacated by those arrests.