Dozens of law enforcement raids in the El Paso area led to the arrest of at least thirty-four people allegedly connected to the Barrio Azteca gang. The arrests stem from a multi-agency task force that obtained indictments on fifty-five individuals on both state and federal charges related to drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and murder. Fifteen people remain at large at this time.
On Thursday, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Troopers began executing arrest warrants issued after the indictments of the alleged gang members was released according to an article by Daniel Borunda with the El Paso Times. In a press conference FBI supervisory agent Marco Antonio Cordero said, “We focused on the hierarchy — the ones running the streets here in El Paso.”
At least fifteen of those arrested were members of the Barrio Azteca gang. The others were accused of providing assistance to the gang.
Texas DPS Commander Carey Matthews said, “These arrests are the result of an investigation spanning three years that led to the discovery of a large heroin distribution ring here in El Paso.”
Breitbart Texas news contributor Kristin Tate reported earlier this year about the violent nature of the Barrio Azteca gang. At that time, one of the leaders of this gang, Arturo Gallegos Castrellon was being sentenced to life in prison for leading the assassinations of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband and another consulate employee.
In a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas said, “Today, state and federal authorities arrested eight (8) El Paso residents for their roles in the RICO conspiracy. They are: 34-year-old Raul Lopez (aka Garfield); 54-year-old Manuel Minjares (aka Manny); 43-year-old Eugene Lozano (aka Gino, Polvos); 43-year-old Gabriel Aldana (aka Mookie); 35-year-old Rito Alvarez (aka Ewok); 55-year-old Jose Minjares (aka Paz); 48-year-old Ramon Sanchez (aka Magic); and, 43-year-old Jose Angel Barrios (aka Chamuco). Alvarado and five others involved in the RICO conspiracy were already in state custody prior to today.”
The indictments allege the defendants conspired to commit racketeering acts in furtherance of a criminal enterprise. Those include murder, attempted murder, extortion, drug distribution and money laundering..
“The FBI and together with our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate gang members engaged in organized criminal activity to ensure the continued safety of our community,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist, El Paso Division in the press release.
“Organized crime, drug trafficking and gang activity pose an undeniable threat to the safety of all communities across the state. This extensive investigation is a great example of the successful partnership between DPS and our law enforcement colleagues in El Paso. We proudly work together around the clock to help prevent crime in this area and to take criminals off our streets,” stated DPS Commander Matthews.
The charges come on the heels of a joint investigation by members of the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas DPS, El Paso Police Department Gang Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.