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Dec. 12, 2011

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HPL Gang Member Gets 35 Years in Federal Prison
Three others also receive significant sentences

LAREDO, Texas – Four members of the Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos (HPL) street gang have been sentenced to federal prison for their part in preparing an armed robbery in which they planned to steal drugs, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with J. Dewey Webb, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

On June 27, 2011, Mark Anthony Milan, 27, Cristobal Cervantes, 29, and Luis Eduardo Alvarez, 27, all of Laredo, were found guilty of conspiracy with intent to distribute 25 kilograms of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime following a four-day jury trial. A fourth defendant, Michael Porras-Castillo, 25, also of Laredo, along with Milan and Cervantes, were found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. All four defendants are self-professed members of the HPL.    

Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, who presided over the trial, sentenced Cervantes to 420 months in federal prison. Alvarez, Milan and Porras-Castillo will serve a total of 352, 300 and 82 months, respectively, without parole. The prison sentences will be followed by a terms of supervised release between three and five years.

During trial, the jury heard testimony from ATF agents that Milan had attempted to buy 25 machine guns he intended to sell in Mexico. The ATF later initiated a separate investigation into Milan after learning he had expressed an interest in committing armed robberies. In February 2011, agents learned that Milan and Cervantes planned to burglarize a residence on March 9, 2011, that purportedly contained 25 kilograms of cocaine. A final meeting was set to occur on that date in advance of the operation.

On March 9, 2011, at their final meeting, Milan and Cervantes were accompanied by co-defendants Porras-Castillo and Alvarez dressed all in black, with Russian SKS assault weapons, body armor, gloves, handcuffs and ski masks. Porras-Castillo also had a Glock .40 caliber pistol in his waistband. ATF agents observed the meeting, moved in and arrested all four defendants before the attempted robbery could occur.

All four have been in custody since their arrest, where they will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The case was investigated by the ATF, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service along with the Laredo Police Department and the Webb County Sheriff’s Department.

Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Homero Ramirez and Special Assistant United States Attorney David White are handling the case. Former Southern District of Texas Assistant (AUSA) Jimmy Ustynoski tried the case before the jury.