Gang members arrested in murder - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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Gang members arrested in murder

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Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 12:00 am

EDINBURG - Jose Guadalupe Garcia predicted his death weeks before sheriff's deputies found him shot and mutilated in an orchard northwest of Alton.

The 36-year-old former Mexican judicial officer and gang member told family members he had been offered a promotion within his criminal organization, but he wanted out, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said Monday.

And in the Partido Revolucionario Mexicano, a violent and secretive prison gang also known as Los Barrachos de Villa, that decision could only mean one thing.

"Blood in, blood out," Treviño said. "The motive is very traditional for these types of gangs. To join you have to spill someone's blood; to leave you have to have your own blood spilled."

Investigators found Garcia's body April 8, nearly three weeks after a group of five men kidnapped him from his home west of Alton.

On Monday, the sheriff announced six of his fellow gang members and a seventh unaffiliated man had all been arrested and charged with his murder. Two more remain at large.

All are believed to be foot soldiers in the PRM, a group authorities say is dangerous and growing in the Rio Grande Valley.

"The PRM is about 120 strong in Hidalgo County," Treviño said. "This is the only criminal gang operating (here) whose majority of members are criminal illegal immigrants."

Investigators knew little about the PRM on March 21, the day Garcia was taken by force from his home near 5 Mile Line and Brushline roads. While there, his attackers also stabbed another man several times in the head, but he survived the attack.

When Garcia's body was found unclothed and without its lower half three weeks later, authorities had already identified several of the PRM members they believed involved in Garcia's disappearance.

Deputies tracked the men through cell phone records and calls placed to Garcia's home, the sheriff said. Several of the men allegedly called and threatened Garcia after he turned down his promotion.

All seven of the suspects were detained and charged last week. But authorities held off on announcing the arrests in hopes of locating the two at large - Adan Perales, 27, and Julian Gallardo Balderas, 27, both Mexican nationals - before they might flee.

"They know that they're wanted now," Treviño said. "We've been knocking on doors for days."

The detained men include Victor Hugo Puente Moreno, 35; Diego Armando Peña, 18; Jose Osvoldo Teran, 18; Olegario Uresti, 26; Eduardo Alberto Flores Jr., 17; and Josue Cordova, 18. Tomas Soria, 17, was also arrested and charged but claimed no gang affiliation, according to deputies.

All those arrested in the case previously been arrested on felony charges and more than half were already in the Hidalgo County jail on lesser charges.

But unlike most gang members, who immediately identify themselves to authorities so they can be placed in segregated holding cells away from rival groups, PRM members keep their affiliations quiet until they reach the state prison system. This is part of the reason that little is known about the group, the sheriff said.

Deputies were only able to link the six known gang members to the PRM by checking their names against Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

"These are not high-ranking members of the group," he said. "We still don't know about their command structure, but we're learning more about them every day."

The seven men arrested last week face charges of capital murder and attempted capital murder for the attack on Garcia's roommate.

They all remain in the Hidalgo County jail on $1.1 million bonds.

Authorities urge anyone with information on the remaining suspects' locations to contact the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office at 956-383-8114.