By Jim Kouri
Two Barrio Azteca (BA) gang associates pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy this week, according to a statement released by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
Thursday, Fabian Rodriguez, 35, aka “Shamoo,” of El Paso, Texas, and yesterday Mexican national Juan Manuel Viscaino Amaro, 41, aka “Porky,” pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norbert J. Garney in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, to racketeering conspiracy. Amaro resides in the U.S. illegally.
According to court documents, Rodriguez and Amaro were associates of the BA, which began in the late 1980s as a violent prison gang and has expanded into a transnational organized crime enterprise.
The BA is primarily based in West Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and throughout state and federal prisons in the United States and Mexico. The race-based gang has a militaristic command structure that includes captains, lieutenants, sergeants, soldiers and associates such as Rodriguez and Amaro –- all with the purpose of maintaining power and enriching its members and associates through drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, intimidation, violence, threats of violence and murder.
According to court documents, members and associates of the BA have engaged in a host of criminal activity committed since January 1, 2003, including drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, kidnapping and murder, including the March 13, 2010, murders in Juarez of U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelf and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee.
The BA profits by importing heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the United States from Mexico. Gang members and associates also allegedly charge a “street tax” or “cuota” on businesses and criminals operating in their turf. These profits are used to support gang members in prison by funneling money into prison commissary accounts of gang leaders and to pay for defense lawyers or fines. The “cuota” profits are also allegedly reinvested into the organization to purchase drugs, guns and ammunition.
During the plea hearings, Rodriguez and Amaro admitted to working with the BA in buying and selling illegal drugs on the streets of El Paso and that the gang extorted money from drug dealers operating on the gang’s turf.
According to Rodriguez’s plea agreement, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under Amaro’s plea agreement, if approved by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone, he will receive a 12 year prison term. Sentencing dates for the defendants have not been scheduled.