Tom Diaz


In Crime, Gangs, Guns, Latino gangs, Mexico, Transnational crime on March 27, 2009 at 4:03 pm
Mexikanemi Tattoo

Mexikanemi Tattoo

The Mexikanemi, or Texas Mafia, gang is a major player connected to the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs).  In Part One of this series Fairly Civil gave an overview of this gang.  Part Two dug more into the gang’s ruthless violence, quoted its astonishing constitution — which commits the enterprise to “every thing[sic]…criminally imaginable” — and provided an example of the application of Mexikanemi “constitutional law” in a vile intra-gang prison murder.

This final part will examine a bit more of the gang’s organization, its role in the illicit drug trade, and the willingness of its gangsters, like most gangsters everywhere, to “flip” and become cooperators when it’s a choice between their ass and those of their carnales‘ (“brothers'”).

“Tom Diaz has worn out some shoe leather—much like a good detective—in gathering facts, not myths or urban legend. “

—Chris Swecker, Former Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“Few people know more about the subject than Tom Diaz and no single book tells the whole story better than No Boundaries. If you really want to know what organized crime in America looks like today, then read this alarming book.”

—Rocky Delgadillo, former City Attorney of Los Angeles

Order No Boundaries from

Today’s text begins with excerpts from the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) indictment in United States v. Jacinto Navajar (United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, docket no. SA08CR047XR, filed January 29, 2008).

The indictment first summarizes what makes the Texas Mafia a criminal enterprise, and thus subject to RICO’s harsh reach.  (The indictment uses the past tense throughout, I suppose because the crimes alleged were in the past. This style is a bit annoying, because everything alleged continues today, but we’ll go with the exact quotes for the record):

The Texas Mexican Mafia was an organization which was self-dedicated to organized criminal conduct in the principal forms of extortion, drug trafficking, robbery, assault, and murder. 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.

Not just a bunch of guys hanging out, but an organized criminal group doing bad things as its essence.  Next, the indictment provides a capsule history of Mexikanemi’s formation and growth:

The Texas Mexican Mafia was formed in the early 1980’s by inmates incarcerated in the Texas state prison system. Its original members banded together behind bars to protect one another from violence from incarcerated non-members and to engage more effectively in organized criminal activity. This criminal activity included drug trafficking in the prison system, assaults on fellow inmates, and extortion. The original members were largely from San Antonio, Texas and at some point the Texas Mexican Mafia drafted a “constitution” and declared San Antonio its “capital.” As its membership grew and individual members were released from prison, most of them settled in San Antonio, where they resumed their criminal conduct…The Texas Mexican Mafia maintained chapters in most of the large cities in Texas but San Antonio was by far the largest and most active chapter and its members who held rank were accorded special status.

The illegal traffic in drugs is the most lucrative of criminal enterprises, so it’s no surprise that’s the Mexikanemi’s main business.  Here’s what they do and how they do it:

One of the organization’s principal activities and sources of income was trafficking in illegal drugs. Its members obtained large quantities of narcotics and distributed them among its membership and non-members for sale, that is, conventional street drug distribution. The Texas Mexican Mafia also required non-members who distributed narcotics to pay a “tax” for the privilege of selling narcotics. This extortion payment or tax was known as “the dime” or “the ten percent” or by the informal Spanish term for “the dime”: “el daime.” The organization imposed and collected a ten percent tax on the proceeds of all illegal drug sales by non-members. Failure to pay the tax could result in serious bodily injury, robbery, or death. In exchange for paying the ten percent drug tax, the Texas Mexican Mafia provided the taxpayer protection from robbery, assistance in collecting drug debts, and a degree of protection from competing drug dealers. The illegal drugs distributed by the enterprise, which included heroin and cocaine, were purchased, sold and distributed in interstate and foreign commerce.

“Taxation” connected to asserted geographical control are key aspects of modern organized criminal groups.  They put street gangs and DTOs in competition with legitimate governments  for de facto “territorial sovereignty” — a competition which which has lead to direct confrontation in Mexico and elsewhere.  Another aspect of sovereignty is administration of justice, and “La Emi” (last letter “i,” distinguished from the Californian “La Eme”) has its own rules and merciless punishments for those who are found to have violated them:

The members of the Texas Mexican Mafia were governed by a strict code of conduct that was enforceable by death or serious injury. The code absolutely prohibited cooperation by any member with law enforcement officials.

Robert Perez Was Executed for Two Murders in Intra-Gang Struggle for Control -- Two of His Carnales Ratted Him Out

Robert Perez Was Executed for Two Murders in Intra-Gang Struggle for Control -- Two of His Carnales Ratted Him Out

In fact, according to news reports, about half of the co-conspirators in this case have already flipped and cooperated as part of their plea-bargains.  So much for absolute prohibitions of cooperation.  As the prison murder described in Part Two illustrates, these guys will kill their brothers (carnales) over petty intramural intrigue.  They are also happy to whack a blood brother in a fight for control after a leader dies or is otherwise hors de combat.  Mexikanemi leader Robert Anthony Martinez Perez, 48, was executed by lethal injection in Texas in March 2007 after having been convicted of two gang-succession murders.  He was largely sent over based on the testimony of flipped carnales.   I write at length about similar intra-mural murderous intrigue in the California Mexican Mafia in my forthcoming book No Boundaries: Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement.  Greed is thicker than notional blood, homes.

San Antonio is still the capital of the Texas Mexican Mafia.  Both the city and the gang play key roles in the illicit drug trade, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center:

Several Mexican DTOs have recently relocated from the South Texas border area to San Antonio, facilitating the development of San Antonio as a national-level transshipment point for cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin. Drug traffickers are also establishing numerous stash locations in the San Antonio area from which they can distribute wholesale quantities of illicit drugs throughout the country, particularly to central and eastern U.S. markets.

The Mexikanemi prison gang, which is based in San Antonio, controls a significant portion of wholesale and midlevel drug distribution in the city. The gang supplies many local street gangs in San Antonio and operates its own extensive retail distribution network. After selling illicit drugs to local gangs, Mexikanemi then collects a 10 percent “street tax” on the profits generated by the sale of these drugs. Mexikanemi operates throughout Texas and is actively recruiting members from small communities around San Antonio and throughout South Texas. Mexikanemi members have a propensity for violence and have been linked to numerous assaults, murders, and shootings.

Map of South Texas Border Shows Problem of Trafficking Graphically

Map of South Texas Border Shows Problem of Trafficking Graphically

Gangsters Favor Capital Punishment -- So Long As They Are The Executioners

Gangsters Favor Capital Punishment -- So Long As They Are The Executioners

  1. […] On that question, consider the message inscribed in the constitution of the Mexikanemi — the Texas Mexican Mafia [read Part One of the inquiry into this group here and Part Three here]. […]

  2. […] But, okay, I get it.  Right now our attention is on the border.  So Fairly Civil will look at Mexikanemi, one of several “Mexican Mafias” in the Southwest and a central player in the illicit drug trade and the violence it spawns.  [Read Part Two here and Part Three here.] […]

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