McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A federal judge this week sentenced a member of the notorious Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang to 12 years in prison for his role “in a massive drug trafficking scheme,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced.
Rafael Diaz, 31, of Rio Grande City, Texas, was sentenced to 145 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Diaz pleaded guilty to the charges on Feb. 4, 2019, according to an ICE news release sent on Friday.
Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey, of the U.S. District & Bankruptcy Southern District of Texas in Victoria, sentenced Diaz sentence on Wednesday, something law enforcement officials say sends a strong message to a ranking leader of this gang.
The Texas Chicano Brotherhood “is a violent criminal organization operating primarily in Starr and Hidalgo Counties along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas,” the ICE news release said. “Members have been involved in numerous crimes, including drug, firearms and human trafficking; kidnappings; home invasions; aggravated assaults; murders and other major crimes.”
Diaz was arrested after authorities in May 2016 launched a multi-agency investigation into their criminal activity of the organization. Diaz was identified as a “rip crew” member, meaning he “used force and intimidation to steal marijuana from drug smugglers and traffickers in the Rio Grande Valley area and re-sell it at discounted prices,” ICE said.
Diaz and other rip-crew group members smuggled and stole multiple loads of marijuana in and around Rio Grande City, officials said.
According to the Gang Identification Task Force, the Texas Chicano Brotherhood was formed in 1994 in Hidalgo County after members split from the Tri-City Bombers. Their symbol is TCB with a star inside the letters, and they wear the color red. Members live in the South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and parts of West Texas.
The multi-agency task force operation that led to Diaz’s arrest was conducted by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Victoria, Texas; HSI in Falcon Dam, Texas; Texas Attorney General’s Office Criminal Investigation Division; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in McAllen, Texas; the Texas Department of Public Safety CID in Starr and Hidalgo Counties, and the Texas Border Prosecution Unit.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.