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Nov. 10, 2010

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Of 15 charged and convicted, 13 sentenced - including two gang leaders

(HOUSTON) – The sentencing of two members and associates of a street/prison gang today brings to 13 the total number of Raza Unida gang members/associates sentenced for drug trafficking and other charges arising from the same investigation resulting in the April 2009 return of an indictment charging 15 members/associates of the gang, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. 

At a hearing today, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison sentenced Ray Contreras, 35, of Houston, and Henry Garcia, aka Shorty, 32, of Victoria, Texas to 210 and 30 months, respectively.  Yesterday, Judge Ellison sentenced Brandell Humbird, 37, of West Columbia, Texas; Samuel Maldonado, 34, of Houston; and Ricardo Obando, 36, of Bellaire, Texas, to 41 months, 40 months and 105 months in federal prison without parole, respectively, for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, and/or possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. All five defendants – members and associates of Raza Unida – pleaded guilty in late 2009and early 2010.

The leader of the Houston area Raza Unida gang - Pedro Muniz, aka Pete, 38, of Houston – was sentenced on Nov. 4, 2010, to 235 months imprisonment for leading a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. Esteban Martinez, aka 21, aka Viente Uno, 38, of Pharr, Texas, who occupied a leadership position in South Texas area for the gang, was sentenced on the same date to 262 months imprisonment. Each had significant criminal histories. 

“The Raza Unida gang can be a violent group. Its members and their illicit activity pose a continuing threat to our communities,” said Moreno. “This prosecution exemplifies the cooperative law enforcement efforts in this district to stop the violent activities of street and prison gangs and make our neighborhoods safer.”
The Raza Unida prison gang formed in the 1990s in the Texas prison system by Latino inmates operates inside and outside jail and prison facilities as a criminal enterprise with the purpose of enriching the members and associates of the gang through the distribution of narcotics. The gang primarily traffics in cocaine and methamphetamine. 

The indictment against the 15 gang members/associates stemmed from a three-year investigation led by the FBI and Houston Police Department culminating in their arrest. The investigation revealed that the defendants conspired with one another and others from October 2007 through April 2009 to procure illegal drugs, to use “stash” houses to store, wrap, package and distribute the drugs to numerous associates involved in drug trafficking in order to carry out the business of the gang, and to use houses, apartments, hotel rooms and vehicles and cellular telephones to further the illicit drug trade in which they were allegedly involved. During the investigation, agents seized approximately three kilograms of cocaine, 1.2 pounds of methamphetamine, more than $51,000 in U.S. currency and 15 guns, including an assault rifle.

Others charged in this case and previously convicted for their role in the Raza Unida gang sentenced along with Muniz and Martinez earlier this month include Gilberto Espinosa, 30, of Houston - sentenced to 60 months imprisonment; Roberto Escobar, aka Mundo, 40, of Navasota, Texas - sentenced to 121 months; and Houston residents Ramon Pena, aka Twin, 31,  received a 120 months; Arnold Ramos, aka Coach, 40, received 84 months; and Gregory Amador, aka Mario, 34, received a 41-months sentence. The 13th defendant Rene Ruiz, 28, of Houston, was sentenced earlier this year to one year probation after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance. 

The two remaining defendants charged in this case who also stand convicted and are pending sentencing later this month are Raul Segura, 37, of Kingwood, Texas, and Mario Garza, aka Green Eyes, 38, of Houston.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim S. Braley is prosecuting the Southern District of Texas case.


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