Barrio Azteca is one of the most violent prison gangs in the United States. The gang is highly structured and has an estimated membership of 2,000. Most members are Mexican national or Mexican American males. Barrio Azteca is most active in the southwestern region, primarily in federal, state, and local corrections facilities in Texas and outside prison in southwestern Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
The gang’s main source of income is derived from smuggling heroin, powdered cocaine, and marijuana from Mexico into the United States for distribution both inside and outside prisons.
Gang members often transport illicit drugs across the U.S.–Mexico border for DTOs. Barrio Azteca members also are involved in alien smuggling, arson, assault, auto theft, burglary, extortion, intimidation, kidnapping, robbery, and weapons violations.
The Barrio Azteca was founded in 1986 by gangsters Benito “Benny” Acosta, Alberto “Indio” Estrada, Benjamín “T-Top” Olivarez, Manuel "Tolon" Cardoza, Manuel “El Grande” Fernandez, Raúl “Rabillo” Fierro and José “Gitano” Ledesma.
The gang succeeded in attracting thousands of violent offenders who hated the Mexikanemi and Texas Syndicate. The Barrio Azteca’s primary goal was to dominate the prison system and gain control of it’s lucrative drug trade.
Members of this ruthless prison gang are all Hispanic and most from El Paso, west Texas and northern Mexico. The gang has grown to become one of the nations most dangerous prison gangs and is currently on the FBI and DEA’s #1 threat list.
Following their emergence into the prison gang scene, both the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia refused to recognize the Aztec’s and declared war with the gang. The out numbered Azteca’s struggle to battle their numerous enemies but some how managed to prevail by murdering several members of the Texas Syndicate in prisons and jails all over the state of Texas.
Barrio Azteca earned the respect of the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia and a peace treaty was signed on July of 1997. The Azteca’s have multiplied and now out number the Texas Syndicate. The highly organized prison gang currently operates in both state and federal prisons all over the United States and Mexico.
Symbols: 915, EPT, 21, BA, Azteca theme tattoos
Territory: El Paso TX, Ciudad Juarez, Midland TX, Odessa TX, Las Cruces New Mexico, and small chapters across the United States and northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Alliances: Juarez Cartel
In 1987, Barrio Azteca members murder a Raza Unida prospect. The Raza Unida do not retaliate and validate the attack after it is discovered that that the victim was a former associate of the Barrio Azteca. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 1988, the Mexikanemi instigates a war with the Barrio Azteca at the Cofield unit. A major state wide battle between the two prison gangs claims the lives of 2 inmates. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 1993, the Barrio Azteca brutally beat and murder a Texas Syndicate member in the El Paso County jail causing the Texas Syndicate to alliance it’s self with the Mexikanemi. Both the Texas Syndicate and Mexikanemi team up against the Barrio Azteca. (El Paso Times)
In 1994, Barrio Azteca members murder a Texas Syndicate member at the Wallace unit in Colorado City, Texas. (Associated Press)
In 1995, the Barrio Azteca stop the growth of an up and coming prison gang called the West Texas Carnales. (Gang Intelligence 101)
On April 1996, Barrio Azteca members murder a former Mexican Mafia member by strangling him to death in the El Paso County jail. (El Paso Times)
On June of 1997 the Mexikanemi and Texas Syndicate settle a truce and sign a peace agreement called the “Manifesto”. The gangs agree to revise the manifesto each year on May 5th. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 1998, members of the PRM (Partido Revolucionario Mexicano) assist the Tijuana, Mexico based Border Brother’s gang in a riot against the Azteca’s in a federal penitentiary. Tension erupts and both gangs attempt to settle the dispute.
In 1999, members of the PRM (Partido Revolucionario Mexicano) attack a member of the Barrio Azteca at the Terrell unit in Livingston, Texas. The Azteca’s retaliate by murdering a 3 PRM rival and injuring several in prisons state wide. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 2000, a PRM member is murdered by Azteca’s at the Cereso prison in Juarez. (Associated Press)
On late 2000, Azteca captain Alberto Indio Estrada is released from prison after spending 17 years locked up. He deserts the gang and steals funds belonging to the organization. Manuel El Grande Fernandez replaces Estrada as leader. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 2001, both the Tango Blast and Barrio Azteca engage in a gang fight in a gymnasium at the Torrez state prison in Hondo, Texas. Both gangs settle a truce soon after. (Associated Press)
On January of 2002, members of the Barrio Azteca brutally stab a Tango Blast member while the victim is using the restroom at the Robertson state prison in Abilene, Texas. A gang war between the two gangs erupts state wide soon after. (Associated Press)
On June 2002, the Tango Blast retaliates against the Barrio Azteca by severely beating 4 of its members in the John B. Connally state prison in Kenedy, Texas. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 2003, the Barrio Azteca and Juarez drug cartel form an alliance and together both gangs vow to eliminate every PRM member in northern Mexico. (Gang Intelligence 101)
On July 2003, The Barrio Azteca declares war on the New Mexico Syndicate over a drug and territory dispute in southern New Mexico. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 2004, the Sinaloa drug cartel and Juarez cartel form alliances and create a federation between the two. The Barrio Azteca is included and carries out executions for the Federation. (Associated Press)
In early 2005, Barrio Azteca members brutally murder a member of the rival Border Brothers gang in Mexico’s Cereso prison. (Associated Press)
In February 2005, the Azteca’s pay Cereso guards to supply the gang with hammers and shields. The Azteca then break down a wall that separates the Azteca majority with the PRM minority. 6 members of the PRM are brutally murdered by Azteca’s. (Associated Press)
On August 2005, Barrio Azteca member Chato Flores is kidnapped and murdered by fellow Azteca members for stealing millions of dollars from the Juarez cartel. Associated Press)
On January 2005, officials of the city of El Paso enforce an injunction on the Barrio Azteca in an effort to stop narcotics dealing on the streets. (El Paso Times)
On June 2006, 29-year-old ex Barrio Azteca member David Fonseca Jr. is brutally murdered in a parking lot by members of the prison gang. (El Paso Times)
On 2006, the Azteca’s experience a power struggle between leaders and 8 members of the gang are murdered by fellow members. (Gang Intelligence 101)
On October 2006, Phyllis Woodall, the owner of the strip club Naked Harem, is arrested and charged with operating a prostitution ring with the Barrio Azteca. Woodall is sentenced to 16 years in prison. (El Paso Times)
In 2007, Federal Public Defender Sandy Valles, 58, is arrested after FBI agents discover phone recordings of alleged gang leaders in prison conducting criminal transactions with Sandy Valles New. (El Paso Times)
On May 2007, Johnny "Conejo" Michelletti, a former Azteca gang member, reveals crucial gang intelligence to the FBI. The information is used to indict several of the gang’s leaders. As a result, dozens of ranking members of the Barrio Azteca are arrested and charged under RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and sentenced to federal prison. Ranking members indicted and convicted are gang captains Carlos Perea, Manuel Cardoza, Benjamin Alvarez, Francisco Herrera, Eugene Mona and Arturo Enriquez. (El Paso Times)
On April 17, 2008, Barrio Azteca leader David "Chicho" Meraz, 49, is found slain in Juárez. Meraz who was the gangs Juarez Capo was murdered by fellow Azteca members. (Associated Press)
On March, 4, 2009, dozens of members of the Barrio Azteca murder 20 PRM prison gang rivals at the Cereso State prison in Chihuahua, Mexico. (Associated Press)
On May 18, 2009, 15 Barrio Azteca members are arrested by the FBI for cocaine dealing, including Azteca gang captain Gualberto "Bird". (El Paso Times)
On September 03, 2009, 18 Barrio Azteca members gunned down in Juarez rehab. (Associated Press)