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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 15, 2018

Syndicato De Nuevo Mexico Prison Gang Associate Sentenced to 14 Years for Conviction on Racketeering and Assault Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – Mauricio Varela, 48, of Silver City, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 168 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for his conviction on racketeering and assault charges.

Varela and his three co-defendants, David Calbert, 42, Robert Martinez, 54, and Mario Rodriguez, 33, were charged with racketeering offenses in a four-count indictment filed in Dec. 2015.  The indictment charged the four defendants with participating in a criminal organization known as the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM) Prison Gang that engaged in acts of violence and other criminal activities, including murder, kidnapping, attempted murder, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute narcotics, and firearms trafficking.  The indictment alleged that the defendants were members and associates of the SNM Prison Gang, a statewide gang operating in New Mexico prisons and in communities throughout the state.  According to the indictment, the SNM Prison Gang was formed in the early 1980s at the Penitentiary of New Mexico after the prison riot in Feb. 1980, and expanded throughout the New Mexico penal system.  The indictment alleged that gang members and associates are expected to remain loyal to the Gang and work to further its objectives after they have completed their prison sentences and those who do not are subject to violent forms of discipline.  According to the indictment, significant goals of the SNM Prison Gang included controlling and profiting from drug trafficking both within and outside the penal system; intimidating and influencing other gangs for the purpose of expanding the network for its illegal activities; and engaging in violence to assert its gang identity and protect its territory.

The indictment charged Varela and Calbert with conspiring to murder an individual referred to as P.S. in March 2011, and with assaulting P.S. with a deadly weapon on March 14, 2011.  It also charged Martinez and Rodriguez with conspiring to murder an individual referred to as A.S., in June 2011, and with assaulting A.S. resulting in serious bodily injury on June 24, 2011.  The indictment charged the four defendants with committing the offenses in Santa Fe County, N.M.

On Oct. 19, 2017, Varela pled guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of the racketeering enterprise.  In entering the guilty plea, Varela admitted that in 2000, while incarcerated in the New Mexico Department of Corrections, he became a member of the SNM Prison Gang and thus became engaged in racketeering activity.  Varela further admitted that in March 2011, he and another SNM Prison Gang member assaulted P.S. by hitting and holding P.S. while the other SNM member stabbed P.S. with a dangerous weapon, which resulted in serious bodily injury to P.S.  Varela acknowledged committing this assault because of his SNM membership and to increase his status within the Prison Gang.

Varela’s three co-defendants have previously entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing.

This case was investigated by Albuquerque Division of the FBI with assistance from the New Mexico Corrections Department, New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Correctional Center, Albuquerque Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, and the El Paso, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and Knoxville FBI Divisions.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated October 15, 2018