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February 9, 2011

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SDTX enforcement action part of national coordinated effort 

[HOUSTON, TX] –   A sealed indictment charging 13 alleged members or associates of the notorious Tri City Bomber (TCB) Street gang with trafficking in cocaine and Ecstasy, and firearms violations has been unsealed United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and FBI San Antonio Division Special Agent in Charge Cory Nelson announced today. These charges are part of a coordinated national effort to combat gangs and gang-related violence through federal prosecutions of members and associates. The Department of Justice announced today that more than 41 members of various street gangs charged in indictments or criminal complaints unsealed today in five judicial districts. In total, 112 defendants have been charged, pleaded guilty or been sentenced in February 2011 as part of this ongoing effort involving U.S. Attorneys' Offices across the country, the Criminal Division's Gang Unit, and federal, state and local law enforcement partners.

After a four-year long investigation, teams comprised of agents and officers from the FBI, United States Border Patrol, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, McAllen Police Department and Mission Police Department executed arrest warrants early beginning this morning and have arrested seven of 13 charged in a 14-count indictment.  The indictment, returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Houston on Feb. 2, 2011, was unsealed today by order of the court.  The seven defendants arrested today in and around the McAllen area are expected to make an initial appearance before a U. S. Magistrate Judge in McAllen later tomorrow. An order directing that five others, presently in state custody, be transferred into federal custody to answer the charges has issued and their appearances in federal court are expected to begin tomorrow and continue through the end of the month.  A warrant remain outstanding for the one defendant who remains at large.    

The 13 arrested are alleged members or associates of the TCB gang, an organization which allegedly makes its money by trafficking in cocaine and Ecstasy. The TCB gang was, according to the indictment, formed in the early 1980's in the Pharr, San Juan, and Alamo areas of South Texas. An organized group with mandatory specific rules and regulations knows as “Las Reglas” to endure loyalty and participation of gang members in criminal activity, the TCB also has a decision making hierarchy including a person in charge in each city, and persons holding positions within the organization including president, generals, captains, lieutenants, sergeants, soldiers and prospects.  “Prospects” are those in the process of becoming TCB members.  Non-members who do business with or perform work for the TCB are referred to as “associates”.  

TCB membership is for life and many of the members have tattoos – “TCB”, “39”, a necklace tattoo made of small bombs, a 1939 Chevy Bomb car, or three high-rise buildings --presenting their membership and allegiance to the TCB.  TCB members pay monthly fees to support incarcerated members and to further the illegal activity of the gang.

“This indictment represents our continued cooperative commitment to infiltrating and dismantling violent gangs who victimize our communities through random acts of violence, firearm violations, and drug distribution,” said U. S. Attorney Moreno. “Gang activity represents a major organized crime threat, and we will continue to work hand-in-hand with our federal, state, and local partners to disrupt their operations.”
“This investigation is an excellent example of the strength found in FBI partnerships with local, state, and other federal law enforcement agencies whereby resources are combined to identify and eradicate the threat posed by violent gangs in our communities, wherever they may be found,” said FBI SAC Cory B. Nelson.

Twelve of the charged defendants  -- Jeffrey Juarez, also known as (aka) “Dragon”, a.k.a. “Tira”, 35, of Sugar Land, Texas; Rogelio Loera, aka “Lolo”, 33, of McAllen, Texas; Joe Lee Gonzalez, aka “Jojo”, 33, San Juan, Texas; Eric Ruiz, 27, Pharr, Texas; Rolando Flores, aka “6-4”, 35, Pharr, Texas; Julio Cisneros, aka “Grouch”, 32, Alamo, Texas; Jose Garza, aka “Psycho”, 33, of Alamo, Texas; John Rosas III, aka “Popcorn”, 34, Pharr, Texas; Daniel Cuellar, 35, of Brownsville, Texas; Rene Cuellar, aka “Chito”, 29, Donna, Texas; Guadalupe Pina, aka “Lupillo”, 22, Donna, Texas; and David Connelly, 28, of Mission, Texas, are accused of conspiring with one another from April 2008 through February 2011 to procure and distribute illegal drugs  -- kilogram quantities of cocaine and 3, 4 –Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as “MDMA” or “Ecstasy” -- to carry out the business of the gang. The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment up to life imprisonment if convicted as well as a $4 million fine.

Juarez, Loera, Gonzalez, and Connelly are charged individually with possessing with intent to distribute controlled substance and face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and millions in fines depending upon the amount of drugs involved in the offense.

The 13th defendant, Fidel Cuellar, 27, aka “Fido”, and Rene Cuellar are each charged being previously convicted felons and possessing a firearm, an offense which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years incarceration and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.  

The six defendants arrested today include Rogelio Loera, aka “Lolo” , Joe Lee Gonzalez, aka “Jojo”; John Rosas, aka “Popcorn”, Daneil Cuellar, Rene Cuellar, aka “Chito”; Guadalupe Pina, aka “Lupillo”, and David Connelly.  The five defendants presently in state custody include Jeffrey Juarez, aka “Dragon”, Eric Ruiz, Rolando Flores, aka “6-4”, Jose Garza, aka “Psycho”, and Fidel Cuellar, aka “Fido”. A warrant remains outstanding for the arrest of  Julio Cisneros, aka “Grouch”. 

The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tim S. Braley and Mark Donnelly.     

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

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