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Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos,Brotherhood of Latino Gunmen

13:41 | ,

Floating trunk stuffed with a headless torso found while fishing in Galveston Bay six years ago, it didn't take long for authorities to figure out the dead man was the Houston captain of a Texas gang aligned with Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.On his back, his name was tattooed in Old English script. On his hip, was inked a likeness of a .45-caliber handgun, the sure-fire call sign for a gang whose Spanish name translates as Brotherhood of Latino Gunmen. What took much longer was an investigation, sparked in part by intelligence information that the killing was an inside job, payback for skimming drug profits. Within the past week, that investigation has resulted in the sentencing of 24 gang members and associates on drug and money laundering charges.The probe underlined Houston's positioning as a hemispheric hub for smuggling illegal drugs into the United States. It also shed light on how a lesser-known prison-born gang distributed drugs for Mexico's best-known gangster, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who heads the Sinaloa Cartel and made the Forbes list of billionaires.“They certainly were a prolific drug-trafficking group as evidenced by the dollars involved and the drug quantities involved,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Braley.Records do not show whether any of those in custody offered insight into the killing in exchange for leniency, but the gang remains in the cross hairs of the law. Police contend that after being shot, Ranferi “Tiny” Arizaga was taken to a Houston apartment where he was dismembered. His head, torso, arms and legs were tossed separately into the bay where the Gulf of Mexico was supposed to swallow them.“It is their way of sending a message,” said Lt. Tommy Hansen, of the Galveston County Sheriff's Office, who noted beheading is a common terror tool in Mexico.Although the Sinaloa syndicate is known to operate in Houston, the city is considered the turf of El Chapo's rival, the Gulf Cartel.
Some of those who were busted in the gang investigation had criminal records; some did not.Court documents, testimony and interviews indicate a wide-ranging conspiracy that looped between Laredo and Houston:Among those snared was a car wash owner; a former semi-pro basketball player; a bowling alley employee; a soft-drink truck driver; the owner of a tattoo parlor; and the mother-in-law, wife and a maid of one of the gangsters.Perhaps the flashiest gangster of them all was Pedro “Master P” Gil III, who got 25 years, records show.Gil, who was born in Laredo and left school in the ninth grade, made a fortune moving cocaine to Houston, where it was bound for New York, Tennessee and other states. As part of his plea, Gil forfeited up to $6 million cash, nine cars, assorted Laredo real estate, and an array of jewelry, including a Rolex watch with 50 diamonds.Gil and his wife were high rollers in Las Vegas, having charged nearly $100,000 on a credit card in 2007. How much cash they dropped is unknown.Millions of dollars were stashed in the names of family as well as a maid who had a Laredo bank account. Gil's lawyers had no comment.Court documents indicate the gangsters were taken down by members of their own organization who betrayed them by wearing hidden recording devices. Members of Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos, as the gang is called in Spanish, are in the organization for life, experts said.down to soldiers.Going against them means death, but hits must be sanctioned and leaders attend meetings known as High Mass.
“They don't kill just for the heck of it,” said Sig Sanchez, head of the prison system's gang department. “They are like many other groups: They have their constitution, they have rules and regulations they have to follow.”Sanchez called them “thugs and killers — a bunch of people that don't belong.”

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