“Thirty-Four Alleged Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Gang Members Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges”

November 9, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on November 9, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Thirty-four alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) gang, including four of its most senior leaders, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Houston for allegedly conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Melvin D. King of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Houston Division; and FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the Houston Field Office.

The 17-count superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on October 22, 2012, and unsealed today in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas. Fourteen individuals were taken into custody today, and 15 defendants charged in the superseding indictment are already in custody. Five defendants remain at large.

“Today’s takedown represents a devastating blow to the leadership of ABT,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Four ABT generals, 13 additional alleged ABT leaders, and numerous other gang members and associates are named in the indictment. As charged, ABT uses extreme violence and threats of violence to maintain internal discipline and retaliate against those believed to be cooperating with law enforcement. Through violence and intimidation, ABT allegedly exerts control over prison populations and neighborhoods and instills fear in those who come in contact with its members. As today’s operations show, the Criminal Division, working closely with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, is determined to continue disrupting and dismantling ABT and other violent, criminal gangs.”

“This indictment is the culmination of a joint federal, state, and local law enforcement effort targeting a large-scale prison gang involved in violent organized crime,” said U.S. Attorney Magidson. “Only when we work in partnership utilizing all our resources can we attack a criminal organization and dismantle it entirely.”

“ATF is serious about fighting violent crime. We remain steadfast in our commitment to focus on those violent criminals who illegally use firearms to prey on their victims,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge King. “Through a collective effort with our law enforcement partners, this operation was a success today.”

“This multi-year investigation and indictment clearly targets the worst-of-the-worst among the ABT,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Morris. “This effort not only exemplifies the level of effort the FBI and our law enforcement partners will expend to prevent prison gang racism and criminal activity from poisoning our communities. It sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these criminal enterprises regardless of where they lay their heads.”

As charged, the defendants range from senior leaders to soldiers of the ABT, a “whites only,” prison-based gang with members operating inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas and elsewhere in the United States since at least the early 1980s.

According to court documents, the ABT has a detailed and uniform organizational structure, with territory divided into five regions, each run by a “general.” The superseding indictment charges four generals: Terry Ross Blake, 55, aka “Big Terry”; Larry Max Bryan, 51, aka “Slick”; William David Maynard, 42, aka “Baby Huey”; and Charles Lee Roberts, 68, aka “Jive,” with conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities of the ABT, among other charges.

In total, the superseding indictment charges 34 alleged members of the ABT with conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities of the ABT. Alleged members of the ABT are also charged with involvement in three murders, multiple attempted murders, kidnappings, assaults, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.

According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to court documents, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT is alleged to have has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.

Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, assault, robbery, and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”

According to the superseding indictment, in order to be considered for membership, a person must be sponsored by another ABT member. Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.

Ten defendants have been charged with offenses that are eligible for the death penalty. The remaining 24 defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the ATF; Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; the Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff’s Department; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Fort Worth, Texas Police Department; San Antonio Police Department; Baytown, Texas Police Department; Carrollton, Texas Police Department; Alvin, Texas Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office; Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; Harris County District Attorney’s Office; and the Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of the Southern District of Texas.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Stanford Should Get 230-Year Term in Ponzi Scheme, U.S. Says

June 7, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle on June 6, 2012 released the following:

“Laurel Brubaker Calkins,

June 6 (Bloomberg) — Convicted Ponzi scheme operator R. Allen Stanford should be sentenced to the maximum allowable term of 230 years in prison, federal prosecutors argued in court papers.

Stanford, who the government said is seeking a sentence of “time served,” is to be sentenced next week in U.S. District Court in Houston.

“Robert Allen Stanford is a ruthless predator responsible for one of the most egregious frauds in history,” the Justice Department said in a 34-page filing. “Displaying an audacity that only further illustrates his depravity, Stanford seeks a sentence of time served, brazenly arguing that there are no losses” and rehashing arguments rejected by the jury that convicted him in March.

Stanford, 62, was found guilty of defrauding more than 20,000 investors through the sale of what the government called bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. A court-appointed receiver marshalling the ex-billionaire’s assets has located less than $500 million in cash and assets that can be used to repay investors.

Stanford’s own sentencing recommendation was filed under seal. Prosecutors said he asked U.S. District Judge David Hittner for leniency, in part because he is a first-time offender.

Stripped of Assets

Stanford also denied that investors suffered any losses while he was running Stanford Financial Group and “complains that he was stripped of all his assets,” by the government, prosecutors said.

The recommended 230 years is at the top of the range of sentences for Stanford’s crime under federal guidelines, the prosecutors said in the filing.

“Nothing speaks more eloquently of Stanford’s character than his sentencing arguments in this case,” the Justice Department lawyers wrote. “After everything that he has done to so many innocent victims, Stanford does not show a hint of remorse for his misconduct, only the same arrogant, narcissistic behavior that led to it.”

Stanford has been incarcerated as a flight risk since his indictment in June 2009. He was charged about three months after U.S. securities regulators seized his companies on suspicion they were a “massive” Ponzi scheme, in which late-arriving investors’ funds were used to pay earlier investors.

Stanford’s Sentence Request

Stanford’s lawyers have requested a prison sentence of 31 to 44 months, prosecutors said.

Robert A. Scardino, one of Stanford’s criminal-defense lawyers, said by phone that his side is “hoping for the best and preparing for the worst” at the June 14 sentencing. Scardino declined to comment further, citing a court order not to speak publicly about the case.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Alisa Finelli, didn’t immediately reply to e-mail or voice messages seeking comment on the filing.

The case is U.S. v. Stanford, 4:09-cr-0342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Judge rules Stanford competent to stand trial

December 22, 2011

Associated Press on December 22, 2011 released the following:

“By JUAN A. LOZANO
Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) — Jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford is mentally competent to stand trial on charges he bilked investors out of $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme, a judge ruled Thursday

U.S. District Judge David Hittner’s decision came after a nearly three-day competency hearing for the disgraced financier. The trial is set for Jan. 23. Hittner said he will rule next week on a request from Stanford’s attorneys to delay the trial until April.

“We’re disappointed. We hope he gets healthy,” Ali Fazel, one of Stanford’s attorneys said after the ruling.

Prosecutors declined to comment. A gag order is preventing attorneys from discussing the case.

Stanford had been declared incompetent in January due to an anti-anxiety drug addiction he developed while jailed in Houston. He spent more than eight months at a federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C., getting treatment for his addiction and being evaluated to determine if he had any long-term effects from being injured in a September 2009 jail fight.

A forensic psychologist who helped treat Stanford at the prison hospital testified the financier is now competent, can think clearly after being taken off the drug and has not suffered brain damage from the jail fight.

Doctors at the prison hospital and prosecutors accused Stanford of faking symptoms of amnesia. He says he can’t remember all events in his life prior to the prison fight.

During closing arguments after testimony in the hearing had concluded earlier Thursday, prosecutor Gregg Costa said Stanford was exaggerating or faking memory loss and 14 other disorders the financier’s medical experts had diagnosed him with in an attempt to “game the system” and avoid trial for a $7 billion fraud.

“He wants to con his way out of this case the same way he conned investors for 20 years. Your honor, don’t let him con his way out of this case,” Costa said.

But four medical experts who testified on Stanford’s behalf, including a neurologist and two forensic psychiatrists, said the financier suffered a traumatic brain injury in the jail fight that left him with severe memory loss and unable to think or communicate clearly.

“Every expert that has seen him says there is something wrong with him,” Fazel said during closing arguments. “He wants to fight the case. He just wants to be able to help his lawyers. He is not running away from anything.”

Stanford’s medical experts said his brain injury, along with a major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder from the jail fight, has left him unable to assist his defense attorneys and to be ready for trial.

Those experts also testified that his treatment for other medical conditions, including heart and liver problems, complicated his brain injury and memory loss.

Stanford and three former executives of his now-defunct Stanford Financial Group are accused of orchestrating a colossal pyramid scheme that advised clients from 113 countries to invest more than $7 billion in certificates of deposit, or CDs, at the Stanford International Bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua, promising huge returns.

Authorities say Stanford and the executives fabricated the bank’s records, bribed Antiguan regulators with investors’ money from a secret Swiss bank account and misused funds to pay for Stanford’s lavish lifestyle.

Stanford became a billionaire whose financial empire stretched across the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. His attorneys say he ran a legitimate business. He has been jailed since he was indicted in June 2009 by a federal grand jury in Houston, where his companies were headquartered.

He faces 14 counts, including wire and mail fraud.

Earlier Thursday, a prison official at the Houston federal detention center, where Stanford is being held, told Hittner doctors at the facility had become concerned Stanford might be suicidal after one of the financier’s medical experts had testified about such concerns.

The official said doctors examined Stanford Wednesday evening and determined he is not suicidal but will continue to evaluate him.”
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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Judge Weighs Competency of Alleged Ponzi Scheme Defendant

December 21, 2011

The New York Times on December 20, 2011 released the following:

By REUTERS

“A prison psychologist who evaluated the financier R. Allen Stanford testified on Tuesday that it would be “incredibly rare” for a patient to suffer from the type of delayed memory loss that Mr. Stanford’s lawyers say makes him incompetent to stand trial.

Lawyers for Mr. Stanford, who is accused of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, have argued that he is incompetent because of an addiction to antianxiety medication and a brain injury suffered in a 2009 jailhouse fight with another inmate.

Mr. Stanford claims he suffers from retrograde amnesia, which prevents him from recalling critical events from his life before the fight. His lawyers plan to call several medical experts to testify about his condition.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that Mr. Stanford may have faked memory loss and that there is no evidence to support his claims. They want his trial to proceed as scheduled on Jan. 23. The prison psychologist testified for the government at the start of a mental competency hearing in Houston that will decide if Mr. Stanford’s criminal trial can go forward next month.

The amnesia that Mr. Stanford has described “is incredibly rare. There is hardly any documented medical research,” Dr. Robert Cochrane, the staff psychologist at a federal prison in North Carolina who evaluated Mr. Stanford, testified at the start of a hearing on Tuesday in United States District Court in Houston.

The financier, who once owned luxury homes in the Caribbean, Houston and Miami, has been indicted on charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty.

In November, Mr. Stanford completed more than eight months of treatment at the Butner prison hospital in North Carolina.

United States District Judge David Hittner, who is overseeing the competency hearing, ruled at the start of the proceedings that only medical and mental health professionals could testify.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Houston Doctor Sentenced in Federal Court to 11+ Years in Health Care Fraud Scheme

October 31, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on October 28, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON – Houston doctor Christina Joy Clardy, 61, has been sentenced to 135 months in federal prison for her role in a massive health care fraud conspiracy that billed the federal Medicare and Texas Medicaid programs for $45,039,230 over a 2 ½-year-period, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Clardy was sentenced just a short while ago in federal court in Houston.

Clardy is the third defendant to be sentenced in this matter. Last week Umawa Oke Imo, the owner of City Nursing Services of Texas, Inc., was sentenced to 327 months for his role in the conspiracy and health care fraud. Clardy, who was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 14 counts of health care fraud and three counts of mail fraud on May 27, 2011, after an 18-day trial in front of U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, was also ordered to pay $15,626,084.01 in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid. In arriving at Clardy’s sentence today, Judge Harmon considered the pivotal role Clardy played in abusing the trust of the Medicare and Medicaid programs by allowing the fraudulent billing under her provider numbers.

City Nursing billed more than $25 million worth of physical therapy services under Clardy’s physician provider numbers between January 2007 and August 2008. The United States introduced a letter at trial, sent by Clardy to Imo in July of 2007 – a year before she left the clinic, showing her knowledge of the fraudulent activities at the clinic, ordering Imo to immediately cease billing Medicare under her provider number, to notify Medicare of the prior fraudulent billing and threatening to notify Medicare of the fraud if he did not. Clardy testified at trial that after Imo received her letter they had a private meeting at her house and after that she never contacted Medicare about the fraud and never asked Imo if he contacted Medicare or stopped the fraudulent billing. Other evidence introduced by the United States showed that beginning in August 2007, a few weeks after Clardy’s letter, Imo began making large cash payments to Clardy and continued to bill approximately $21 million worth of false and fraudulent physical therapy services.

City Nursing employee Joann Michelle White, who played a minor role in the health care fraud conspiracy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February 2010 and testified for the United States during the trial. She was sentenced to 46 months on Oct. 14, 2011. The last convicted defendant, Kenneth Anokam, will be sentenced later next month.

The investigation into City Nursing was the result of the joint efforts by special agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Office-Medicare Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Redlinger and Mark Donnelly prosecuted the case. Assistant United States Attorney Kristine Rollinson assisted with forfeiture and restitution.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Two Houston-Area Residents Charged in Nationwide Medicare Fraud Strike Force Takedown

September 8, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 7, 2011 released the following:

Total of 91 Defendants Charged Nationally with Submitting $295 Million in Fraudulent Claims

HOUSTON— The owner of a Medicare referral business and the owner of a medical supply company have been charged for their participation in separate schemes to defraud the Medicare program of more than $62 million, announced the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The Houston indictments are part of a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations that led to charges against 91 defendants for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $295 million in fraudulent claims to the Medicare program. This takedown involved the highest amount of false Medicare billings in a single takedown in Strike Force history.

“The defendants charged in this takedown are accused of stealing precious taxpayer resources and defrauding Medicare—jeopardizing the integrity of our health care system and our nation’s most critical health care program for personal gain,” said Attorney General Holder. “Our highly coordinated, nationwide Strike Force operations are working aggressively to combat Medicare fraud and our anti-health care fraud efforts have never been more innovative, collaborative, aggressive—or effective. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and partners across government to fight against health care fraud.”

“Defrauding our national health care programs affects those who depend on our health care system and cheats the taxpaying public,” said U.S. Attorney Moreno. “Those who defraud the system, no matter what their role, should expect to face federal prosecution.”

An indictment, returned under seal by a Houston grand jury on Aug. 31, 2011, was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Houston following the arrest of Jodi Leonore Latson, 45, of Houston. Latson is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, two counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks and four counts relating to the payment and receipt of kickbacks. According to the indictment, Latson owned and operated a Medicare referral business known as Health Pro Resources LLC. The indictment alleges that Latson used a data-mining service to compile lists of Medicare beneficiaries. The lists were provided to Health Pro Resources employees who worked in a “boiler room” call-center and recruited beneficiaries through telemarketing calls. According to the indictment, Latson then provided beneficiary information to 100 different home health care agencies in exchange for illegal payments. The indictment alleges that Latson caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for home health care services that were medically unnecessary and not prescribed by a patient’s physician. According to the indictment, the Medicare program paid the companies who purchased beneficiaries from Latson approximately $61.5 million. Latson is set to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson.

In a separate and unrelated case, Akinsunbo Akinbile, 43, of Richmond, Texas, has been charged in a superseding indictment with eight counts of health care fraud in connection with an approximately $700,000 scheme to defraud the Medicare program through the submission of fraudulent claims for durable medical equipment (DME). Akinbile was also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft. Akinbile was the owner of Hallco Medical Supply, a DME company in Houston. On bond since being charged in February 2011, Akinbile appeared today and has been permitted to remain on bond pending his trial.

Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-Office of Inspector General (OIG), are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. The Houston Strike Force has obtained indictments of more than 71 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $96.8 million since it began its operation in late July 2009.

The results of the nationwide takedown were announced today by Attorney General Holder, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, and Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the HHS – OIG. The Houston indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHS-OIG, Office of Investigations; and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI, HHS-OIG, the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the United States Railroad Retirement Board.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Hector Ovidio Molina Fuentes, Jose Gabriel Garcia Calderon, Ernesto Manuel Mejia, Samuel DeJesus Argueta, Ronald Alexander Gomez, Jaime Eduardo Lopez Torres, and Carlos Contreras Allegedly Linked to MS-13 Are Indicted by a Houston Federal Grand Jury

August 11, 2011

Houston Chronicle on August 11, 2011 released the following:

“By DANE SCHILLER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Seven alleged members and associates of the MS-13 street gang are charged with three slayings and other mayhem as part of a racketeering operation that killed, robbed and dealt drugs in Houston, officials said Thursday.

The gang, also known as the Mara Salvatrucha, has roots in El Salvador and a record in numerous countries.

A newly unsealed federal indictment contends that those charged committed murder in order to move up in the gang, which was hungry to control territory and keep the community in fear.

Defendants are accused of dividing Houston into cliques, smaller groups that operated in regions of the city and held regular meetings to discuss gang rules and criminal activity as well as collect dues.

They also used cellphones, text messages and social networking to conduct business, according to authorities.

Code of silence detailed
Authorities believe two of the MS-13’s victims this year — identified as Saul Garduno, 15, and Jonathan Hernandez, 24 — were gang rivals.

It is not yet known why a third victim, 17-year-old Anayanci Roche, was killed.

The indictment describes the inner workings of the gang, saying there is no tolerance for members or associates suspected of cooperating with police.

“The sanction for violating the code of silence is termed a green light … the gang’s approval for the killing of someone suspect of cooperating with law enforcement,” notes the indictment.

Those charged were identified as Hector Ovidio Molina Fuentes, 33; Jose Gabriel Garcia Calderon, 19; Ernesto Manuel Mejia, 18; Samuel DeJesus Argueta, 21; Ronald Alexander Gomez, 19; Jaime Eduardo Lopez Torres, 29; and Carlos Contreras, 21.

Two arrested elsewhere
It is not clear which of the defendants, if any, grew up in Houston. Contreras is in custody in Panama and facing extradition to the United States. Another defendant was arrested in Arkansas.

Stephen Morris, head of the FBI’s Houston division, said the probe of the MS-13 continues.

“Our investigation into this violent gang is not over,” Morris said. “We will continue to pursue MS-13 and any other gang members who seek to poison our streets with drugs and violence.”

He encouraged the public to come forward with information on their dealings.

Jose Angel Moreno, the top federal prosecutor for a region that stretches from Houston to the Mexican border, stressed that the gang’s activities cast a wide net.

The MS-13 first reached into the United States in the 1980s, according to a statement released by federal authorities who announced the indictment.

Male members are first required to make it through an initiation process in which they are “jumped in” to the gang by being beaten by other members, the document states. Female members also can be beaten in such initiations or subjected to sexual activity with other members, it continues.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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