The Texas Mexican Mafia
According to a US Justice Department press release:
The Texas Mexican Mafia or Spanish term “La Eme” (which translates literally to “The M”). The Texas Mexican Mafia was self-dedicated to the pursuit of organized criminal conduct principally through drug trafficking, extortion and assault. The Texas Mexican Mafia – including its leadership, membership and associates – constituted an “enterprise” as that term is defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1961(4), that is, a group of individuals associated in fact. This enterprise constituted an ongoing organization whose members functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise. This enterprise is engaged in, and its activities affected, interstate and foreign commerce.
The Texas Mafia was formed in the early 1980’s by prisoners incarcerated in the Texas state prison system. The organization’s original members joined together behind bars to protect one another from the violent behavior of non-member inmates and to more effectively engage in organized criminal activity. The original members drafted a “constitution” governing the organization and declared San Antonio, Texas its “capital.” Upon release from incarceration, members and prospective members were ordered to report to the organization’s leadership overseeing their hometowns. As membership grew and the organization expanded inside and outside of the prison system, the organization established a presence in an increasing number of towns throughout Texas.
The Texas Mexican Mafia was governed by a strict code of conduct that expressly stated that the enterprise was a group devoted to crime and violence. This code was enforceable by death or serious bodily injury. One could only become a “merecido” or “worthy one,” that is, and official member of the Texas Mexican Mafia, after being asked to join by a “padrino” or “sponsor” and by participating in a serious criminal act. The traditional threshold requirement for membership into the organization is the carrying out of a “contract” or “cameo” on behalf of the organization, oftentimes involving the murder of an enemy. This code absolutely forbade any member’s cooperation with law enforcement officials.
The Texas Mexican Mafia was organized in a hierarchical form that included a president, vice president, generals, captains, lieutenants, sergeants and soldiers (also known by the Spanish term for soldiers: “soldados”). Prospective members closely associated with the organization include “prospectos” or prospects and “esqine firmes” or non-member soldiers that had not yet risen to the level of a prospect. Associates who spent considerable time with the gang were known as “coras” or hearts. Members holding rank above that of soldier are recognized as the leadership of the Texas Mexican Mafia, and it is the directives of the members to be carried out by soldiers and prospective members.
Many members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia signified their membership and allegiance to the organization by wearing distinctive tattoos reflecting the letter “M” (for example: “Eme,” “M,” or “13”). “Mexikanemi,” or displaying images representing Aztec culture and mythology. These tattoos were oftentimes designed to be kept hidden beneath clothing lines – ending at the collar and sleeve – to avoid detection by law enforcement officials. Certain tattoos are only allowed to be worn only by “merecidos” or official members.
One of the organization’s principal activities and sources of income is extortion. According to the organization’s constitution, the Texas Mexican Mafia impose and collect a ten percent “tax” on the proceeds of all illegal drug sales by non-members for the privilege of selling narcotics in areas under the organization’s control. This “tax” or extortion payment was known as “the dime,” or “the ten percent.” Failure to pay the tax could result in robbery, serious bodily injury or death. In exchange for paying the ten percent drug tax, the Texas Mexican Mafia provide the taxpayer protection from robbery, assistance in collecting drug debts from users, and a degree of protection from competing drug dealers.
Another principal source of income for the Texas Mexican Mafia is trafficking in illegal drugs. Operating in Southwest Texas afforded the organization two opportunities to profit from narcotics: localized sale and international trafficking. Like conventional street drug distribution, members and associates obtain large quantities of narcotics and distribute them for localized sale. The illegal drugs distributed by the enterprise – including heroin, cocaine and marijuana – are purchased, sold and distributed in interstate and foreign commerce. Additionally, members of the gang also provide firearms to the international narcotics traffickers located in Mexico as part of their ongoing business relationship.
The purpose of the enterprise known as the Texas Mexican Mafia include the following: a) to enrich its members through, among other things, drug trafficking, extortion, weapons trafficking and other violent crimes; b) to preserve and protect the power and profits of the Texas Mexican Mafia through the use of intimidation, violence, threats of violence and assaults; c) to promote and enhance the Texas Mexican Mafia and its members activities; d) to keep its victims in fear of the Texas Mexican Mafia and its members in compliance with its rules through violence and threats of violence.
The Methods, Manner and Means of the Enterprise
Among the means and methods by which members and their associates agree to conduct and participate in the affairs of the enterprise are the following:
a) members of the enterprise and their associates obtain money through the direct distribution of illegal drugs and through imposition and collection of extortion payments (“the dime”) from drug distributors in exchange for authorization from the Texas Mexican Mafia to sell illegal drugs;
b) members of the enterprise and their associates obtain money by engaging in illegal acts, including the threatened and actual use of force, violence and intimidation – including assault, extortion, robbery, kidnapping and other acts of violence,- all of which are conducted as part of the operation and management of the enterprise;
c) members of the enterprise and their associates protect the activities and affairs of the enterprise from competing individuals, rival gangs and others through the use of illegal means, including the possession of firearms and engaging in acts of violence and threats of violence, and by coordinating with Mexican drug cartel members, including individuals associated with the Los Zetas drug trafficking organization;
d) members of the enterprise and their associates plan and coordinate the activities of the enterprise through regular meetings where the operations of the enterprise are discussed;
e) members of the enterprise contribute funds to specifically designated individuals who maintain possession of those funds and act as a “bank,” loaning out money to members and associates who require funds.