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Sept. 14, 2011

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Jailers and Alleged Raza Unida Gang Member Sentenced To Prison for Bribery

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two former jailers and one alleged member of the Raza Unida prison gang have been sentenced to prison for conspiring to bribe public officials, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. 

Jose Martinez, 26, and Juan Munoz, 18, both of Falfurrias, Texas, and former guards at the Brooks County Correctional Facility, along with Rowdy Lopez, 30 of Corpus Christi, an alleged member of the Raza Unida gang, were sentenced to prison terms today by Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head. Martinez and Munoz were sentenced to 24 and 16 months in federal prison, respectively, while Lopez was sentenced to a 48-month prison term. All three have also been ordered to serve three-year-terms of supervised release following their release from prison. The fourth defendant convicted in this case, former Nueces County jailer Juanita Mendez, will be sentenced in October 2011. All four defendants pleaded guilty in late June 2011 to conspiring to commit bribery.

The convictions are the result of an investigation which culminated in the filing of criminal charges on April 14, 2011, following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents and United States Marshals Service (USMS) deputies. According to record of the case, on March 31, 2011, HSI agents and USMS deputies found a Brooks County Detention Center detainee in possession of a cellular telephone. The detainee, Preston Mascorro, an alleged Raza Unida gang member, was in custody awaiting trial for federal charges involving violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR) and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. HSI agents later learned, according to the record of the case, that Mendez, a former Nueces County jailer, had smuggled a cell phone into the detention facility at Mascorro’s request. Martinez, a jailer at the detention center, had delivered the cell phone to Mascorro in exchange for $100. Munoz, another jailer at the facility, brought another cellular phone to Mascorro at the direction of alleged Raza Unida gang member Rowdy Lopez in exchange for $250 paid by Mendez. Mascorro remains in federal custody pending trial in November 2011 in for the VICAR and other charges alleged in cause number 2:10-cr-01128 before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack.  Mascorro is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

The Raza Unida prison gang was formed in the late 1980s in the Texas prison system by Latino inmates and operates inside and outside jail and prison facilities. This gang should not be confused with a political action group by the same name.

The investigation leading to all the charges was conducted by HSI, USMS, Customs and Border Protection, Corpus Christi Police Department - Gang Unit, CCPD - Organized Crime Unit, Kingsville Task Force, Falfurrias Police Department and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Patterson and Michael Hess.