The Texas Syndicate, says here, is the "oldest prison gang in Texas' history," dating back to its 1978 formation at Folsom Prison in California. As recently as seven years ago there were some 1,000 members scattered throughout prisons and throughout the country; more than that lived outside the joint, everywhere from California to Austin. Says a 2004 press release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, "The gang has been responsible for robbery, kidnapping and murder as a part of their primary drug trafficking activities in Austin since the mid-1990s." They're plenty active in Dallas, as well.
But yesterday, Texas Syndicate member Ernesto Medrano was put out of commission, joining 20 of his fellow gang members who likewise received lengthy prison sentences for importing hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the U.S. -- using military transport flights from Columbia to Ft. Bliss, Texas, no less. Medrano got 17 years in a Dallas federal courtroom yesterday; earlier, Hector Manuel Ayala received a life sentence, while Roy Arredondo Jr., head of the Texas Syndicate, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In a press release issued by his office late yesterday, U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper said, "These enormous sentences should send chills through drug dealers and gang members in Dallas. This case is an excellent example of the collaborative efforts of the federal government and local law enforcement working together to aggressively deal with drug, gun and violent gang activity here in North Texas."
Read the whole thing; sounds like the plot of a movie, with myriad police agencies teaming up after several drug and gang-related murders, which authorities believed to be the work of the Texas Syndicate, took place in and around the city. Says the release, Arredondo and the Syndicate "trafficked large quantities of narcotics from south Texas and Mexico to Dallas and Decatur, Illinois." A sequel to Traffic, sounds like. --Robert Wilonsky