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Transnational Gangs
03/04/2016

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Barrio Azteca gang member sentenced in El Paso, Texas, to 10 years in federal prison on RICO, drug trafficking, money laundering convictions

Barrio Azteca gang member sentenced in El Paso, Texas, to 10 years in federal prison on RICO, drug trafficking, money laundering convictions

EL PASO, Texas — A Barrio Azteca gang member was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Thursday for his role in a racketeering enterprise.  

U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and FBI investigated this case.

Roberto Meza, 40, was the 17th and final defendant to be sentenced to federal prison as a result of this multi-agency investigation.

On Aug. 21, 2015, Meza pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and money laundering.

According to court records, from Aug. 1, 2010, to Sept. 10, 2014, the members of this gang conducted their affairs through a pattern of racketeering to include murder, attempted murder, extortion, assault and drug trafficking.

Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said, “This case exemplifies the effectiveness of law enforcement joining forces to protect our community from violent gangs. This sentence makes clear that HSI will not allow thugs, who think they are above the law, to rule our streets. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the community at large to bring criminals to justice.”

Following are the other defendants and their sentences after this investigation:

  • Juan Pablo Espino, 38, 299 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and money laundering charges;
  • Fernando Madrid, 42, 110 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Raul Lopez, 35, 120 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Manuel Minjares, 55, 300 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Eugene Lozano, 44, 120 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Rigoberto Alvarado-Mendez, 42, 90 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Gabriel Aldana, 44, 90 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Richard Rene Espino, 35, 120 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Christopher Ytuarte, 42, 120 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy and money laundering charges;
  • Rito Miguel Alvarez, 37, 240 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Ramon Sanchez, 49, 120 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Hector Bernal, 46, 110 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Jose Angel Barrios, 45, 240 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering charges;
  • Eddie Mendoza, 32, 110 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge;
  • Barbara Rodriguez, 36, one year imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the RICO conspiracy and drug distribution conspiracy charges; and,
  • Juan Carlos Nunez, 24, 60 months’ imprisonment and $2,000 fine; pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge.

The following law enforcement agencies also participated in the investigation: the El Paso Police Department, with significant assistance by the El Paso Sheriff’s Office; Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/08/2016