Category Archives: Uncategorized

High-Caliber Machine Gun Seized at RGV Bridge

PHARR–U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers  seized a .30-caliber machine gun and tripod late Friday evening during an outbound inspection at the Pharr/Reynosa International Bridge.

CBP officers came in contact with a 2006 Hummer H3 that was headed south into Mexico and its male driver, a 21-year-old U.S. citizen from Pharr , Texas . During a secondary inspection, CBP officers seized a Browning .30-caliber machine gun and tripod from the vehicle’s backseat area.

The male driver was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further investigation.

“I commend our frontline officers for intercepting and preventing the illegal exportation of this firearm into Mexico,” said Hector Mancha, the CBP Port Director for Hidalgo/Pharr .  “Our officers are working hard to secure our nation’s borders and continue efforts to disrupt the flow of illegal weaponry into Mexico .”

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com

Tri-City Bombers Gang Busted in Federal Indictments

MCALLEN–A sealed indictment was unsealed today charging 13 members or associates of the notorious Tri City Bombers Street with trafficking cocaine and Ecstasy and firearms violations.

After a four-year long investigation, 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 the 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.

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 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 Jose Angel 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.

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.

Overall, 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.

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com

Coastal Bend Bank Robber Sentenced

CORPUS CHRISTI–A man who escaped a halfway and robbed two banks in the Coastal Bend was sentenced to 14 years in prison today.

Prosecutors said David Michael Hall, 32. robbed an IBC on Staples in Corpus Christi and Trust Texas Bank in Victoria last July.

Hall was a at halfway house for committing a bank robbery. He escaped from it in Corpus Christi and used a taxi cab to take him to the bank in Corpus Christi on July 12. With the cab driver waiting in the car in front of the bank, authorities said Hall went inside, committed the robbery, then the cabbie without knowing was his getaway driver.

Authorities said he took some of that money and caught a bus to Victoria where two days later he robbed a Victoria bank. Officers converged on the crime scene and caught Hall hiding inside a barber shop near the bank robbery.

The money taken in the Trust Texas Bank robbery was found on Hall, but they never found the $8,000 in cash from the IBC robbery in Corpus Christi. A judge order him to pay restitution for that crime back to the bank.

The judge ordered sentenced him to 178 months in federal prison and a three years of probation. Hall was convicted in November 2010, after pleading guilty to having used force, violence and intimidation to rob the two financial institutions.

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com

 

Brownsville Fire May Be Arson

BROWNSVILLE–Brownsville Fire investigators believe two fires at the same house in the middle of artic cold front maybe the work of an arsonist.

The fire happened on Thursday night and Friday night on the Rey Enrique. The first fire only caused extensive smoke damage, but the second one destroyed the home.

Nobody had lived in the home for a few weeks, but police said the home was a drug house and it’s believed the fire maybe arson due to that.

The fire started in the middle of the coldest weather in Brownsville on Thursday night shortly 9 pm. A neighbor saw smoke coming out of the home, so he started fighting it with a garden hose. By the time firefighters arrived, they were able to put it out.

Six hours later after 3 am on Friday morning, somebody came back and it’s believed ignited a second fire. This time there was nobody around to fight it. By the time firefighters arrived, it caused extensive smoke and fire damage. The house was considered a total loss.

Fire investigators are looking the blaze and believe it is suspicious. They haven’t declared it arson, but believe it was set on purpose. Any information, call the Brownsville Crimestoppers at 956-546-TIPS

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com

Cold Stunned Sea Turtles Recovering

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND–More than 850 sea turtles were recovered from the recent artic front that hit South Texas with most surviving, while some have died due to cold front.

About 750 turtles, who were pulled out of the Laguna Madre, were returned to the Gulf of Mexico, which is a bit warmer.

Experts said it would be best to return the cold-stunned sea turtles to the water as soon as possible. In the past, they would be kept for weeks at a time to recuperate, but researchers believe they need to be returned.

They also were overwhelmed by the number of sea turtles that were rescued. It’s the largest rescue since they first starting counting in 1980. Better than keeping the turtles on the floor with a blanket, experts said they opted to get them back in the water.

While many survived, about 100 died in the South Padre Island area and another 100 around Corpus Christi from the hypothermia. Researchers said they couldn’t handle the cold water.

On South Padre Island, they still have about 50 sea turtles recovering. They either were suffering from hypothermia or were victims of predators. Researchers said coyotes and sharks bit the sea turtles who were weak from the cold water and they couldn’t get away.

Researchers hope they will recuperate and get better so they can return back to the Laguna Madre or Gulf of Mexico in the near future.

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com

Coast Guard Catches Another Boat Illegally Fishing

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND–The Coast Guard caught another lancha from Mexico with four people on board illegally fishing near South Padre Island on Sunday.

At 10:50 a.m., a Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi Falcon jet and crew were on a routine patrol when the crew spotted a lancha about 40 miles north of South Padre Island and within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Coast Guard Station South Padre Island launched a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boat and crew to investigate the area near the last location of the lancha.

The crew seized the lancha about 22 miles north of South Padre Island and in U.S. waters.  The lancha had four people aboard with a catch black tip shark, hammerhead shark and red snapper. The lancha’s crew was turned over to Customs and Border Protection agents.  The catch was released at sea.

“This is another example of how the Coast Guard works cohesively with other agencies to complete the mission,” said Lt. Mary Arvidson, an Air Station Corpus Christi Falcon jet pilot.  “It is important that we continue to train and foster relations with our agency partners so we can work toward keeping U.S. waters safe and navigable,” she said.

A number of lanchas with Mexican fisherman are getting caught on the U.S. side of the border. It has risen dramatically this year and Coast Guard officials can’t explain why it’s a big problem this year.

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com

Brooks County Arrest Two and Seize 2,000 Pounds of Marijuana

Brooks CO Drugs (Picture of Drugs)

FALFURRIAS–Two Rio Grande Valley family members get busted trying to smuggle 2,300 pounds of marijuana last Thursday when they were using a ranch road to get around the Border Patrol checkpoint in Brooks County.

Jose Maria Covarrubias, 29, and Francisco Escobar, 50, who are both from Rio Grande City, were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. Escobar is the Covarrubias father-in-law.

Brooks County Sheriff’s got a call about some suspicious activity on a ranch about six miles southwest of Falfurrias.

Brookds CO Car (Picture of Car Involved in Chase)

“Somebody called in a report of somebody who was on the ranch road who wasn’t supposed to be there,” said Sgt. Danny Davila of the Brooks County Sheriff’s Department. “We are not surprised because we know they use those roads for drug trafficking along with smuggling weapons and illegal immigrants.”

Brooks County officials sent officers to the ranch and set up a sting to catch the two driving two different cars. Escobar pulled over right away, but Covarrubias tried to get away.

“It was a narrow road and we tried to stop him, but he took and speeds hit up to about 105 miles an hour,” Sgt. Davila said. ” We threw down some spikes and he keep going before going off-road and we eventually caught him.”

Covarrubias is facing an additional charge of evading arrest with a motor vehicle.

Authorities found more than 250 bundles of marijuana and it weighed out to more than 2,000 pounds. The vehicles used in this drug trafficking operation were seized.

–South Texas Tribune, southtexastribune@gmail.com