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Press Release

Tri City Bombers and Cartel associate sentenced for racketeering crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – Five men have pleaded guilty and received significant sentences for their involvement in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.  

Ramon De La Cerda, 48, McAllen; Jose Rolando Gonzalez, 43, and Juan Alberto Mendez, 49, both of Mission; Salomon Robles, 35, San Juan; and Margil Reyna, 38, Toledo, Ohio, admitted their roles in the Tri City Bombers (TCB) racketeering conspiracy and were immediately sentenced.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake sentenced each man to 30 years in federal prison.

In handing down the sentences, Judge Lake found De La Cerda and Gonzalez to be ranking members of the TCB, while Reyna and Robles were members of the criminal organization. Mendez was a drug distributor for the Gulf Cartel and associate of the criminal enterprise.

“With the pleas today, these five people have admitted their involvement in a slew of senseless violent crimes, including murders committed in furtherance of the TCB criminal enterprise,” said Lowery. “We and our federal and state law enforcement partners will continue our unrelenting efforts to eradicate gang violence in the district and hold accountable all those who threaten the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

“Members of our Rio Grande Valley community deserve to live free of threats from criminal organizations,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jason Hudson. “The FBI thanks our partners on the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for their collective efforts to keep members of this organization off the streets.”  

The court found Mendez hired De La Cerda, Gonzalez and Robles to kill on two occasions. The criminal enterprise kidnapped and murdered a man in McAllen and attempted to murder a woman in Mission. The woman was shot six times, but survived.

Gonzalez was also involved in the distribution of 27 kilograms of cocaine in October 2016 in Victoria.

In 2012, Reyna participated in an ongoing marijuana trafficking conspiracy and home invasion burglary that resulted in the death of the homeowner in Edinburg. The homeowner’s son was also shot, but survived.

The TCB is a national gang active in multiple states that was formed in the early 1980s in the Pharr, San Juan and Alamo areas of South Texas. The TCB have an organized decision-making hierarchy, including a person in charge of each city and leaders within the organization who determine whether its members violated the gang’s rule and deserved punishment. To instill loyalty, including participation in gang’s criminal activities and adherence to its strict rule structure, TCB leaders determine and order the severe beating of members and associates for acts of disobedience or non-observance of TCB rules.

The scope of the TCB’s crimes is wide-ranging and consistent in its nationwide operation. This RICO conspiracy includes murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, firearm crimes, money laundering and other crimes in furtherance of the organization’s enterprise. The TCB brought money into the gang through murders, drug trafficking, home invasion robberies and money laundering.

To date, 35 individuals have been convicted in the case.

All five men sentenced today have been in custody since their arrests and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI led the OCDETF investigation dubbed “Operation Bomb Disposal,” along with IRS-Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Weslaco and Pharr. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Casey N. MacDonald prosecuted the case with the assistance of Trial Attorney Brendan Woods and other members of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.  

Updated March 14, 2022

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