A lieutenant in the Bario Azteca gang admitted in a San Antonio federal court to his role in a conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, racketeering, distributing controlled substances, importing heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and money laundering.
Ricardo Valles De La Rosa (Valles), aka “Chino,” 52, a resident of El Paso, Texas, appeared on Friday before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Western District of Texas. He entered a guilty plea to several charges leveled in a 30-page indictment that landed him and 34 other associates in jail.
Valles and other members of Bario Azteca, a transnational border gang connected to the Juarez Cartel, were indicted in a 30-page indictment. The indictment was unsealed in March 2011, information obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed.
In addition to pleading guilty to the drug smuggling and money laundering charges, Valles also admitted to his role in a conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country. He is the 27th conspirator in the indictment to either plead guilty or be found guilty in a trial. Breitbart Texas reported in April 2014 about the guilty pleas filed by 35-year-old Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, also known as “Benny,” “51” and “Guero.” He was reported to be the leader of the Bario Azteca gang.
In a June 2012 press release about the sentencing of another conspirator, the Department of Justice referred to the Bario Azteca gang as a “transnational border gang allied with the Juarez Cartel. Hector Galindo, 38, and two others were sentenced to life, 20 years, and 30 years respectively for their roles in the gang operation.
In September 2014, Breitbart Texas also reported on another series of raids focused against the leadership of the gang. FBI supervisory agent Marco Antonio Cordero said at the time, “We focused on the hierarchy — the ones running the streets here in El Paso.” Those raids led to the arrests of 34 people associated with the gang.
A central crime in the conspiracy was the murder by Bario Azteca members of a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband. “The BA killed these individuals because they were mistakenly believed to be rivals associated with the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Drug Trafficking Organization,” the DOJ press release stated.
Valles admitted to the court that he obtained the location of a vehicle being driven by the husband of the consulate employee. He also admitted he knew the other members of the gang were going to locate the vehicle and murder the occupant.
He said he became a member of the gang while serving as an inmate in a federal prison. During that time, he said he rose to the rank of sergeant, officials stated. Following his release from prison in 2007, he was deported to Juarez. Following his removal from the U.S. he was again promoted to the rank of lieutenant within the organization. His areas of responsibility included overseeing prostitution and illegal after-hours alcohol sales in Juarez. He worked to illegally obtain law enforcement-related information about the arrests of gang members, and he obtained the locations of rival gang members. He would keep track of the results of hits ordered against these rival gang members. He was later arrested and extradited to Texas in October 2015.
Two of the 35 gang members indicted have been apprehended and charged. Twenty-five of those pleaded guilty and one other person was found guilty in a trial.
Valles will face a sentencing hearing on March 23.