SAN ANTONIO -- 23 Hondo and Uvalde, Texas-based members and associates of the Texas Syndicate (TS), including a Bandera County Sheriff’s Deputy, have been arrested based on two federal grand jury indictments returned on Wednesday and unsealed late yesterday.
Those arrested on Thursday and charged in a Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy indictment include:
■Cristobal Velasquez (a.k.a. “Little Cris”), age 33, of Uvalde;
■Sotero Rodriguez Martinez (a.k.a. “June”), age 41, of Uvalde;
■Chuco Mario Martinez (a.k.a. “Mariachi”), age 35, of Uvalde;
■Larry Munoz, Jr. (a.k.a. “Little Larry”), age 36, of Uvalde;
■Brian Esparza (a.k.a. “Tata”), age 31, of Uvalde;
■Charles Esparza (a.k.a. “Horse”), age 32, of Uvalde;
■Ervey Sanchez (a.k.a. “Mad Max”), age 31, of Uvalde;
■Mark Anthony Vela, age 35, of Hondo;
■Charles Olan Quintanilla, age 32, of Hondo;
■George Sanchez (a.k.a. “Curious”), age 36, of Uvalde; and
■Inez Mata (a.k.a. “Bebito”), age 41, of Uvalde.
The seven-count RICO indictment charges the defendants with participating in a criminal organization whose members engage in acts of violence, including murder, extortion, robbery, and drug distribution. According to the indictment, from January 2002 to the date of the indictment, the defendants conspired to commit four murders, commit robbery, and distribute cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine.
The RICO indictment specifically alleges that: an indicted co-conspirator, whose identity will be revealed at his initial appearance, shot and killed 43-year-old Rogelio Mata on October 13, 2002; Velasquez and Chuco Martinez were responsible for the shooting death of 34-year-old Jose Guadalupe De La Garza on December 25, 2005; Ervey Sanchez shot and killed 36-year-old Jesse James Polanco on November 9 2009; and, on August 14, 2010, Sotero Rodriguez, Munoz, Torres, Brian Esparza, Charles Esparza, Ervey Sanchez, and George Sanchez conspired to kill 45-year-old Ramon Rodriguez.
During the conspiracy, the defendants were allegedly responsible for trafficking in the Hondo and Uvalde areas in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, 100 kilograms of marijuana, and three ounces of methamphetamine.
Each defendant faces up to life in federal prison upon conviction.
Those arrested yesterday and charged in the non-RICO indictment include:
■Jose Alberto Ruiz (a.k.a. “Spike”), age 42, of Uvalde;
■Calletano Nira (a.k.a. “Cat), age 46, of Hondo;
■Joshua Leonard Benavides, age 20, of Hondo;
■Alfredo Tapia, III (a.k.a. “Nacho”), age 63, of Hondo;
■Ted Benavides (a.k.a. “TJ”), age 19, of Hondo;
■Jessica Escareno, age 40, of Hondo;
■Ruben Dominguez, age 35, of Hondo;
■Sandra Torres, age 33, of Uvalde;
■Jaime Corona, Jr., age 28, of Hondo;
■John Khosravi, age 31, of San Antonio;
■Eli Torres, age 35, of Uvalde; and,
■Thomas Cuellar, age 41, of Hondo.
The 12 defendants named in this indictment, all of whom are members or associates of the Texas Syndicate, are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Ruiz, Nira, Joshua Benavides, Tapia, Ted Benavides, and Escareno are also charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Cuellar is also charged with one count of unlawful use of a government computer.
From August 1, 2009 to the present, the defendants have allegedly conspired to distribute controlled substances in the Uvalde and Hondo areas. The indictment also alleges that on August 31, 2010, Cuellar, a Bandera County Sheriff’s Deputy, unlawfully accessed a department computer in order to obtain law enforcement information regarding co-conspirators.
Each drug charge calls for a sentence of between five and 40 years in federal prison upon conviction. Cuellar also faces up to five years in federal prison upon conviction of the unlawful use charge.
While executing the federal warrants on Thursday, authorities also arrested 22-year-old Diana Lizett Hernandez, of Bracketville, Texas. Hernandez is charged by a criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of a public housing facility. The complaint alleges that at the time of her arrest, Hernandez was in possession of 3.5 grams of cocaine and a digital scale. Upon conviction, Hernandez faces not less than one year and up to 40 years in federal prison.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force together with the Texas Department of Public Safety - Criminal Investigations Division, San Antonio Police Department, Medina County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office. Also assisting in the investigation was the 38th Judicial District Adult Probation Gang Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Customs and Border Protection, and the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Department assisted in making the arrests. This case will be prosecuted in the Del Rio Division of the Western District of Texas.
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.