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Transnational Gangs
04/20/2016

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Former El Paso gang member sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison for distributing heroin which resulted in death

Former El Paso gang member sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison for distributing heroin which resulted in death

EL PASO, Texas — An El Paso man, who is a former “Barrio Azteca” gang member, was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 17 years in federal prison for distributing heroin which resulted in death.

Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.

In addition to the 200-month sentence, Danny Ortiz, 32, was also ordered to serve six years on supervised release after he completes his prison term.

In April 17, 2015, Socorro, Texas, police officers discovered the body of a heroin-overdose victim, Kellie Kondrat. The resulting investigation revealed that Ortiz supplied the heroin to Kondrat that caused the death of the 35 year old.

Ortiz pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 200 grams of heroin. By pleading guilty, he admitted that on several occasions between March 5 and May 19, 2015, he delivered heroin to Kondrat as well as other individuals.

Ortiz has remained in federal custody since his arrest by HSI special agents May 19, 2015.

“HSI and our local law enforcement partners continue to aggressively investigate drug traffickers and stop them from pumping poison into our communities,” said Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. “This lengthy prison sentence sends a clear message to transnational criminal organizations that operate in the El Paso area – 'the bigger the crime, the longer the time.'”

Socorro Police Department participated in this investigation.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Community Shield.

Operation Community Shield is a global initiative, started by ICE in 2005, in which HSI collaborates with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs in the United States and abroad. Through its domestic and international Operation Community Shield task forces, HSI leverages its worldwide presence and expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to mitigate the threats posted by these global networks, often through the tracing and seizing of cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.

Partnerships with state, local, federal and international law enforcement agencies are critical to the success of HSI gang enforcement operations. Law enforcement partners provide actionable intelligence which is critical in targeting gangs and their membership for enforcement actions. HSI special agents use intelligence gathered from surge operations to pursue complex criminal enterprise investigations and federal prosecutions.

Since 2005, HSI special agents, working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, have made more than 40,000 gang-related arrests and seized more than 8,000 firearms.

The National Gang Unit oversees HSI’s expansive transnational gang portfolio and enables special agents to bring the fight to these criminal enterprises through the development of uniform enforcement and intelligence-sharing strategies.

Recent National Gang Unit-led operations include: Southern Tempest in 2011, targeting gangs affiliated with drug trafficking; Project Nefarious in 2012, targeting gangs involved in human smuggling and trafficking; Project Southbound in 2014, targeting the Sureños, the fasting growing transnational gang in the U.S., and Project Wildfire in 2015, the largest gang surge conducted by HSI to date.

Additionally, for the past three years, ICE has held an anti-gang conference with the U.S. Department of State in Mexico City to provide training and capacity building for international law enforcement officers to combat and prevent gang activities.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour, toll-free hotline at: 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or visit www.ice.gov/tips.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/20/2016