13 now in prison in investigation initially targeting Laredo area Mexican Mafia

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

LAREDO, Texas – With the sentencing of a 37-year-old associate of the Texas Mexican Mafia, more than a dozen criminals are serving more than 1600 months combined for their respective roles in narcotics trafficking on the streets of Laredo, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo sentenced Anthony “Tono” Mercado, Laredo, to serve 33 months in prison. The sentence will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional testimony as to testing positive for cocaine while on bond for the offense.

The sentencing today brings to a conclusion a multi-agency operation which initially targeted the Texas Mexican Mafia prison gang in Laredo. Although not all were involved in gang activity, the resulting investigation led to indictments against 12 people. All were charged with narcotics trafficking with two facing additional firearms charges.

10 were convicted for their roles in distributing crack-cocaine from a home in Laredo aka Blue Point which was situated near a school and playground.

In addition, information obtained during this investigation also led to the arrest and conviction of a 36-year-old Corpus Christi area Texas Mexican Mafia member – Robert Loya Jr. aka Lil’ Rob. A jury convicted him of possessing over six kilograms of meth and several firearms including a stolen military grade .50 caliber rifle.

Along with Mercado, several ranking members of the Mexican Mafia were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including the former “Captain” of the Laredo area Texas Mexican Mafia – Martin Perez Jr. aka Quince. Perez was convicted for his role in the crack cocaine distribution from the Blue-Point. At sentencing, the court heard that Perez was the leader of this activity and that he used threats of violence to control others involved as well as his rivals.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo previously sentenced Perez to serve 327 months in prison. At that hearing, the court heard that Perez directed at least five other subjects to assist with a 2009 murder. Evidence also showed he had an extensive criminal record and that he has been a member of the Texas Mexican Mafia for a significant amount of time. The remaining individuals convicted in the case received terms ranging from two years to 262 months for their respective roles in the conspiracy. In the Loya case, he received a 30-year sentence.

In total, all 13 individuals received a total of more than 1600 months in federal prison.  

Mercado has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Webb County Sherriff’s Office and the Laredo Police Department conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brittany L. Jensen prosecuted the case which was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven and multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF