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Grappling with Gangs [South Texas Pistoleros]
The Monitor ^ | June 25,2006 | Andres R. Martinez

Posted on 06/25/2006 7:42:45 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch

MISSION — Family and gang were one and the same for Leobardo Villarreal. So in March it was no coincidence that federal authorities finally arrested Villarreal, a 22-year-old second-generation member of the gang Hermano Pistoleros, through a tip they got after arresting his father and fellow gang member Juan Eladio Villarreal-Saenza, officials said. The Pistoleros, whom the FBI says Mexican drug cartels are hiring to run drugs and do contract killings, operate in Mexico and the United States.

They are highly mobile, organized criminals who also happen to be illegal aliens, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

While the federal government is dedicating many of its resources to battling international gangs, some local law enforcers believe there are local gangs that pose a greater problem in the Rio Grande Valley.

The father-and-son arrests were part of a year-old Department of Homeland Security initiative called “Operation Community Shield,” which has led to the arrest of 2,388 gang members nationwide.

The gang members arrested in this federal sweep represent the most dangerous criminal threat in the United States today, officials say.

Those arrested through that operation include members of the 18th Street Gang, Latin Kings, Big Time Killers and Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

MS-13, the most violent in the eyes of the federal government, has been held responsible for brutal retaliatory deaths in Los Angeles and the Washington, D.C., area.

New Approach

The Villarreals are the best example of the trend of “transnational, violent” street gangs that are becoming increasingly hard to combat because they operate on both sides of the border.

Most of the gang members are deported, but ones like the elder Villarreal, who are felons, are jailed in U.S. prisons. They face additional jail time if they illegally re-enter the country.

These gangs have spread to the Valley and the Texas border, said Alonzo Peña, ICE’s special agent-in-charge for the San Antonio Office of Investigations.

The gangs in the Valley have begun to form alliances, Peña said, or at least work in connection with the drug cartels in Mexico.

Currently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ICE are investigating reports of gang members in Laredo who are working as hit men in Nuevo Laredo, Peña said. That’s separate from the actual drug smuggling for the cartels in which many Valley gangs are already involved.

Federal investigators believe the contract murders involving border gang members have contributed to the escalation of violence in Nuevo Laredo, he said.

Peña, through ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda, would not give details about the case or with what gangs the suspects are affiliated.

Although those cases involve violence in Nuevo Laredo, where more than 100 people have been murdered in connection to the drug trade this year, there is already proof the same type of contract killing is happening here in the Valley.

Gonzalo Artemio Lopez, a Valley gang member, told authorities before his capital murder trial in Edinburg last year that he carried out a murder for the La Mana drug cartel from Tamaulipas. Lopez was convicted.

Valley Gangs

While “Community Shield” has gained a lot of attention nationwide, local officers question whether international gangs are the most pressing organized crime issue in the Valley.

In fact, there seems to be next to no overlap in how federal and local authorities combat gangs.

Many officers in local departments point to gangs like the Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate and Tri-City Bombers as the most dangerous.

And they point to how the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia prison gangs spawned from Valley gangs into larger organizations to illustrate how ICE’s jailing of violent gang members does not deter criminal activity in the long term.

For example, local gangs that were mostly involved in petty crimes 20 years ago have now grown into full-time criminal outfits smuggling drugs, carrying out hits and laundering money, according to Edinburg Detective Robert Alvarez, a veteran gang investigator.

“A lot of the guys we arrested when they were 17 went to jail,” Alvarez said. “And I then had to arrest them for gang activity at 28.”

When they do go to jail, they get deeper into gang life, he said.

He’s not sure spending time going after international gangs will clean up the Valley. It’s not a top priority for local officers, as it is for federal agencies, he says.

Some critics cite the detention and removal policy, which DHS now advocates, as the very reason why these illegal alien gangs are growing into international threats.

The most well-known example, they say, is Mara Salvatrucha — also known as MS-13. The gang started in the 1980s with the influx of Salvadoran immigrants to Los Angeles.

Many of the MS-13 members were in fact here illegally and eventually deported back to El Salvador or other Central American countries, where over time the organization recruited more members and cemented their roots. Many of the current members in the United States have snuck back in since being deported.

Reform Needed

Peña admits that a greater strategy aimed at eliminating the gangs must be developed; but, he said, ICE is only empowered to do so much. Because foreign countries are starting to crack down on these gangs, deporting them is a much more feasible option, he said.

“It is much more effective to get them off the streets,” Peña said. “We are starting to see in their countries that their countries are aggressively pursuing them.”

Local officers are just as critical about the other option ICE is using: incarceration.

Incarcerating these gang members in the United States will only help them spread, just like gangs native to the Valley spread in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Alvarez said.

Gangs in the Valley have evolved from ones with members who committed petty crimes in order to claim their “turf,” to well-structured and disciplined gangs involved in violent crime and drugs, Alvarez said.

Many of the gangs have tiered structures, similar to the military. It’s not unlikely to see a group assign military ranks.

Alvarez, a former Hidalgo County detention officer, saw first-hand how gang bosses manipulated the jail system and were able to still communicate with their underlings as effectively as if they were on the outside.

“They don’t disband, especially if they get rooted in the prison system,” he said. ——— Andres R. Martinez covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4434. For this and more local stories, visit www.themonitor.com.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Mexico; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: 18thstreetgang; aliens; bigtimekillers; gangs; hermanopistoleros; illegalimmigrants; immigrantlist; latinkings; marasalvatrucha; mexicangangs; mexicanmafia; ms13; texassyndicate; tricitybombers
"The Villarreals are the best example of the trend of “transnational, violent” street gangs that are becoming increasingly hard to combat because they operate on both sides of the border."
1 posted on 06/25/2006 7:42:49 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch

Strip them of their citizenship, and send them packing south of the border. Build a wall larger than the great wall of China and put an alligator moat on both sides. That ought to solve the problem. Any more gang members located on our side of the border toss them over as well.

PROBLEM SOLVED. As long as we are willing to put up with these people who call themselves human beings, they will be willing to congregate and cause us all grief.

(ok, they aren't all from Mexico, but most of them are).


2 posted on 06/25/2006 7:47:30 AM PDT by television is just wrong (our sympathies are misguided with illegal aliens...)
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To: LongElegantLegs; radar101; RamingtonStall; engrpat; HamiltonFan; Draco; TexasCajun; ...

Pistoleros Ping!


3 posted on 06/25/2006 7:49:53 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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To: SwinneySwitch
" They are highly mobile, organized criminals who also happen to be illegal aliens, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials." said."

There, probably a little more accurate.

4 posted on 06/25/2006 7:52:25 AM PDT by Enterprise (Let's not enforce laws that are already on the books, let's just write new laws we won't enforce.)
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To: television is just wrong

Could always put a bounty on the strays once the invasion is stopped.


5 posted on 06/25/2006 7:56:36 AM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: SwinneySwitch

I still think a tall electrified fence. Well actually two electrified fences with a 30 foot span between them will eliminate many of the drug problems. Plus, tough law enforcement on gangs. Whatever it takes.


6 posted on 06/25/2006 7:57:51 AM PDT by Dustbunny (Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me)
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To: Enterprise; All

Talk amongst yourselves, going to church.


7 posted on 06/25/2006 7:59:55 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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To: ncountylee

well they might have enough fear in them to straighten up and stop causing problems too. So the problem could end. As long as we continue to have grafitti removal programs and keep covering up their crimes, we are willing to just tolerate their juvenile criminal behavior.

The minute we stand up as the great giant country we are and say we have no tolerance for this crap, we will first see how big the problem really is, then we deal with it, it will shrink immensely.


8 posted on 06/25/2006 8:01:16 AM PDT by television is just wrong (our sympathies are misguided with illegal aliens...)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Statement: "Incarcerating these gang members in the United States will only help them spread..."

Response: Jail does not work. Deportation does not work.

Question: Is organized government bankrupt?

9 posted on 06/25/2006 8:06:40 AM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: SwinneySwitch
I don't know how "organized" the Mexican gangs are that have moved into my southern California hometown, but their presence has caused increased crime and they have all but taken over once-peaceful neighborhoods, to the point that lifetime residents don't dare drive through there anymore.

Shootings, rapes, muggings, carjacking and home theft are common here now since this invasion has allowed to continue.

No matter how much the politicians try to tell us that "they're only here to work", their words ring hollow and absolutely untrue when ordinary Americans are forced to live with the mess.

11 posted on 06/25/2006 8:29:09 AM PDT by janetgreen
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To: SwinneySwitch; 1_Inch_Group; 2sheep; 2Trievers; 3AngelaD; 3pools; 3rdcanyon; 4Freedom; ...

Ping!


12 posted on 06/25/2006 8:33:03 AM PDT by HiJinx (Have you hugged a soldier today? Try it, you'll like it.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Say a prayer or two for our country...


13 posted on 06/25/2006 8:34:09 AM PDT by HiJinx (Have you hugged a soldier today? Try it, you'll like it.)
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To: jk4hc4
I have known for several years Pistoleros in the Mid-South area and on occasions have ridden with them and they certainly don't fit in this category.

That's a very interesting comment. I wonder, how do you square the Pistoleros you know with the ones in this article? Is it a matter of recency? Geography? Or is the term just too loosely defined?

14 posted on 06/25/2006 8:37:04 AM PDT by HiJinx (Have you hugged a soldier today? Try it, you'll like it.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
They are highly mobile, organized criminals who also happen to be illegal aliens, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

Can't be. No way. Don't buy it.

Dubya says illegals are all "hard working, law abiding, good people". Heck, even some Freepers unequivocally state that they're all here only to pick grapes and other produce in order to save us lazy Americans from starving to death (you know who you are).

Criminal gang members?!? C'mon - getouttahere.



Bwaahahaha!!!
I crack me up

15 posted on 06/25/2006 8:44:49 AM PDT by Condor51 (Better to fight for something than live for nothing - Gen. George S. Patton)
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Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
Jail does not work. Deportation does not work.

Execution tends to work.

When deporting one, do full fingerprint/retina-print/DNA on him. If caught back in the US, make him subject to summary execution

17 posted on 06/25/2006 8:58:20 AM PDT by SauronOfMordor (A planned society is most appealing to those with the arrogance to think they will be the planners)
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To: janetgreen

here is how orgnized they are in LA,

Mexican drug cartels take over U.S. cities :

"They purchased restaurants, used-car lots, auto-body shops and other small businesses. One of their purposes was to use these businesses for money-laundering operations. Once established in their community, these cartel-financed business owners ran for city council and other local offices. Over time, they were able to buy votes and influence in an effort to take over the management of the town. They wanted to create a comfort zone from which they could operate without interference from local law enforcement."

...an example, L.A. County city of Bell Gardens – corrupt elected officials under the influence of drug lords actually tried to shut down the police department.
City officials who would not cooperate with the Mexican-born city manager were forced out of office," he writes. "Eventually, the L.A. County attorney's office moved in, and the city manager was prosecuted on charges of corruption. Unfortunately, Bell Gardens was only the tip of the iceberg. Other Los Angeles suburbs – including Huntington Park, Lynwood and Southgate – became targets for the cartels."

...there are entire cities (in LA county) under the virtual control of Mexican criminal street gangs and their associated businesses, in some cases, making it dangerous for county, state and national law enforcement officers to venture in and rendering any interdepartmental cooperation impossible.


http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1651660/posts


18 posted on 06/25/2006 9:36:14 AM PDT by seastay
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To: seastay
there are entire cities (in LA county) under the virtual control of Mexican criminal street gangs

L.A. = "sanctuary city". Those towns you mentioned (and others) aren't safe to drive through. Even Orange County has been infected now.

We're being colonized with the aid of our own government, from the TOP on down. A sad state of affairs for the United States.

If this isn't enough to make people realize that NEW American leadership is needed, nothing will. The "two parties" favor foreign interests, not American interests.

19 posted on 06/25/2006 9:47:16 AM PDT by janetgreen
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To: janetgreen

Shootings, rapes, muggings, carjacking and home theft are common here now since this invasion has allowed to continue.

We have areas of town and small towns around us that you just don't go to. We had some relatives awhile back visit who lived here many years ago, they couldn't believe it.

I guess noone really gets it unless you live in the middle of it and remember how it used to be.


20 posted on 06/25/2006 9:58:07 AM PDT by sheana
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To: sheana
We have areas of town and small towns around us that you just don't go to.

hard to believe we are talking about the USA, if this were Iraq, or even France it would make the news, but since it is California a state that everyone had expected to slip off into the pacific someday anyhow, why bother with these problems is the attitude, sigh...
21 posted on 06/25/2006 10:11:35 AM PDT by seastay
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To: sheana
Some critics cite the detention and removal policy, which DHS now advocates, as the very reason why these illegal alien gangs are growing into international threats.

Yeah, sure. It's our fault for jailing then deporting these criminal monsters.

If our authorities at all levels won't/can't handle them, then there seems only one other effective solution. Homegrown "death squads" will eventually be in our future if our government doesn't wise up quickly by closing our borders and really cracking down on these criminals.

This problem is going to get taken care of one way or the other or we will be turned into a turd world shiitehole like the countries these people slithered from.

If the Liberals think they are doing a lot of hand wringing now over the unfairness of it all, wait until the violence starts turning up in their neighborhoods (obviously, it hasn't yet or they would be screaming for help from the politicians). But when the bound bodies of these gang members eventually start getting dumped on their quiet little streets as well, they will really freak out!

Hey, that's life in a turd world shiitehole, Liberals. Get over it. You wanted it. You will get it if you insist on it!

22 posted on 06/25/2006 10:31:46 AM PDT by Gritty (Amnesty will change us from being a neighbor of Latin America to becoming a part of it-Diana West)
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To: SwinneySwitch

bump


23 posted on 06/25/2006 10:33:04 AM PDT by VOA
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To: jk4hc4
The ones that i know and there are several including all their officers in the Mid South area are very well respected in the community and get along well with local law enforcement. They also do a lot of charity events.

So do the Hell's Angels. Though I wouldn't exactly call them "well-resepected in the community". What's your point? That they are not as described in the article?

24 posted on 06/25/2006 10:42:18 AM PDT by VeniVidiVici (My head hurts.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

According to the FBI there are 500,000 violent illegal aliens in this country now.


25 posted on 06/25/2006 10:50:22 AM PDT by Mogollon
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To: sheana
I guess noone really gets it unless you live in the middle of it and remember how it used to be.

And even those who "get it" have the luxury of living in gated communities, have bodyguards and people to do their shopping for them. They are insulated, and don't care about ordinary Americans who are not only putting up with the mess, but are forced to finance it.

26 posted on 06/25/2006 10:52:18 AM PDT by janetgreen
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To: seastay

We have a small town south of where I live that my husband worked in for years. People would ask him where he worked and he would answer....in Lamont, where murder is still a misdemeanor. It is 97% hispanic and at least half are illegals.
Our favorite restaurant is out there but luckily it is on the corner of a major street in and out of town. We go straight to the restaurant and straight back out of town. We don't dare travel down main street after dark.

You are right, it is pathetic.


27 posted on 06/25/2006 11:09:22 AM PDT by sheana
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To: seastay

There is a simple solution- A $10 federal hunting license for gang members and a $20,000 bounty for a body. That's about what a year in prison costs. It won't take long before these bums realize hordes of law-abiding citizens are out to kill them. They will go to another country. Problem solved:)


28 posted on 06/25/2006 11:10:05 AM PDT by BobS
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To: janetgreen

Everyone we know is leaving or working on leaving. Most of our friends are in law enforcement or firefighting and they know how bad it really is.
As they have retired or set dates for retirement they all have bot property out of state.
We are leaving summer of '07.


29 posted on 06/25/2006 11:22:43 AM PDT by sheana
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To: HiJinx; Spiff; Borax Queen; idratherbepainting; AZHSer; Sabertooth; Marine Inspector; A Navy Vet; ..
A Prime reason why the Kennedy/McShame bill should not bbe passed and the House bill passed by the Senate immediately with
BIG,
NASTY,
MEAN,
SHARP,
TEETH!

30 posted on 06/25/2006 11:25:07 AM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SwinneySwitch

both sides of the border...

Like Pancho Villa. We need a similar response.


31 posted on 06/25/2006 11:28:37 AM PDT by donmeaker (If the sky don't say "Surrender Dorothy" then my ex wife is out of town.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
They face additional jail time if they illegally re-enter the country.

Psst, Villarreal, when you come back across, go through El Paso! The sheriff is spreading the word LE isn't going to check pickups with 32 guys hanging out the back or ask questions about legal status.

32 posted on 06/25/2006 2:14:17 PM PDT by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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To: seastay; janetgreen
We have areas of town and small towns around us that you just don't go to.

Oh yeah, I cringe now days thinking back in my younger days I was a CPS worker and before that a jobs placement worker and had to go to those houses all by myself. It caused a few spine shivers then, but there's no way I'd do that work today.

33 posted on 06/25/2006 2:23:41 PM PDT by mtbopfuyn (I think the border is kind of an artificial barrier - San Antonio councilwoman Patti Radle)
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Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: jk4hc4

Hermano Pistoleros? Mid-South Texas?


35 posted on 06/25/2006 3:50:59 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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Comment #36 Removed by Moderator

To: jk4hc4
Not the same Pistoleros as yours.

The Hermano Pistoleros are composed mainly of Latino offenders from throughout Texas. Recently, there has been a lot of activity in the Corpus Christi Area involving this gang. They are known to use a HPL or a .45 caliber automatic pistol tattoo.
37 posted on 06/25/2006 7:18:56 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

To: jk4hc4

These South Texas GANGS are CRIMINALS not motorcycle CLUBS!! Did you read the article??

You do know that Pistoleros is Gunmen in English?

They don't need no stinking permission from any MC or RC Club, or anybody, to use the word Pisoleros!!

¿Comprenda?






39 posted on 06/29/2006 9:33:32 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!)
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