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Transnational Gangs

6 Texas Mexican Mafia gang members arrested following heroin indictments

SAN ANTONIO — Law enforcement authorities on Thursday arrested six members of the Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) and their associates following two federal drug indictments, announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pittman, Western District of Texas. These charges stem from an FBI-led investigation assisted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The following six individuals were arrested and charged federally:

  • 45-year-old Robert Carreno Jr. (aka "Lil Bit");
  • 39-year-old Tony Berlanga (aka "Tony");
  • 46-year-old Gabriel Quiroz (aka "Biker");
  • 48-year-old Guadalupe Ramos (aka "Lupio");
  • 56-year-old Julio Villanueva (aka "Shorty Hawk"); and
  • 63-year-old Teresa Alonzo (aka "Tia").

The following additional four defendants were already in law enforcement custody on unrelated charges: Manuel Gonzales (aka "Speedy"), 36, and Alexander Garza (aka "Animal"), 35, in federal custody for a supervised-release violation; Joseph Sanchez (aka "Cowboy"), 41, and 20-year-old Santos Trevino (aka "Dedos," aka "Beatles") in state custody.

According to court documents, the first indictment was returned on Oct. 5 and unsealed Thursday, charging all those arrested with one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Upon conviction, the defendants face a minimum, mandatory 10-year term of imprisonment, and a maximum of life in federal prison.

The investigation revealed that from Dec. 1, 2009 to July 20, 2011, the defendants distributed at least 48 kilograms (105.6 pounds) of heroin, which the TMM sold for $750,000. Authorities believe Carreno holds the rank of "Free World General" of the TMM. Also, Carreno and Berlanga allegedly oversaw the transportation of the heroin from Laredo, Texas, to San Antonio for further distribution by TMM members.

The second indictment, also returned on Oct. 5, charges Teresa Alonzo (aka "Tia") with a conspiracy to distribute heroin between Dec. 1, 2009 and July 20, 2011. Upon conviction, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

In June 2011, Alonzo allegedly attempted to smuggle an ounce of heroin to TMM Vice President Benito Alonzo while he was incarcerated in the Texas Department of Corrections. As part of the distribution conspiracy, Alonzo is accused of having accepted thousands of dollars as repayment to Benito Alonzo for monies loaned to purchase heroin. A federal search warrant executed at her residence in August 2011 resulted in the seizure of notebooks containing names and telephone numbers of TMM members, and correspondence from Benito Alonzo.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.