For a man about to spend at least the next 40 years of his life in prison, Roy Arredondo hardly seemed nervous.
Arredondo, the reputed leader of a Dallas-based cell of the Texas Syndicate prison gang, was sentenced this morning in Dallas federal court to life for his role in a criminal conspiracy that included six murders and the trafficking of massive amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in the Dallas area.
Arredondo entered the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade dressed in an orange jumpsuit and covered in tattoos. He looked around the gallery, where friends and family members sat, and broke into a wide smile. There was no tension or apprehension in his face; Arredondo knew what he was coming. Based on what the government had against him, and what he had already admitted to, he knew he was looking at a life sentence. The only real question before Kinkaid was whether Arredondo would serve that sentence -- roughly 40 years -- concurrently with another life term he had previously been sentenced to as part of the same conspiracy.
Chad Meacham, an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said that under Arredondo’s leadership, the Texas Syndicate had become “one of the most violent and prolific drug trafficking organizations this city has ever seen.”
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In the year prior to his arrest, Meacham said Arredondo’s group trafficked approximately 200 kilos of cocaine through the Dallas area (one kilo of cocaine is worth approximately $25,000). Meacham argued that because Arredondo was at least partially responsible for six murders and that he had ordered the execution of one of the organization’s members, his life terms should be served separately and that he had forfeited his right “to ever walk the streets again.”
But Kinkeade disagreed, ruling that the terms could be served concurrently. In all likelihood, Arredondo will be 73 before he’s up for parole.
Arredondo was the main prize in a sprawling case that resulted in the indictment of 14 Texas Syndicate members who prosecutors say were responsible for as many as a dozen murders in the Dallas area and more than a decade of drug trafficking. It marked the first time the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Texas had used the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) statutes to take down a violent criminal enterprise, U.S. Attorney Richard Roper told The Dallas Morning News in October, when the indictments were handed down.
“What we’re doing with this indictment is we’re using the criminal statutes that were designed to take down the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, violent gangs in the northeast part of the United States,” Roper said. “We’re using this for the first time in North Texas to try to dismantle a violent prison gang.” --Jesse Hyde