A 23 year old U.S citizen and alleged Los Zetas gang member, Joseph Allen Garcia, was arrested in the border city of Reynosa, Mexico, this Thursday night and expelled within hours to the U.S. to face multiple charges in Texas of murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, possession of marijuana and a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
The suspect was arrested by Tamaulipas state investigative police with the help of intelligence shared by Texas authorities. After being expelled by Mexican authorities Garcia was taken into custody Friday morning by U.S. Marshals in Hidalgo County, across the Rio Grande from Reynosa.
Hours later Garcia was escorted in a convoy under heavy security by Federal authorities and Webb County deputy sheriffs to Laredo, Texas, where he faces the numerous charges listed above.
According to federal authorities the suspect is a cartel hit man for Los Zetas in Mexico and also works for the Mexican Mafia prison based gang in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Garcia's criminal career began in 2003 in Laredo, Texas, at the age of 16 when he gunned down 4 other youths with an AK-47, killing one and wounding the other three. After becoming a fugitive in 2005 he is thought to have entered the drug trafficking underworld in Mexico.
The importance of this arrest is highlighted by the fact that Garcia had been on the U.S. Marshals’ list of their Top 15 most wanted fugitives since 2008.
Garcia’s role with Los Zetas and the Mexican Mafia also highlights the growing links between Mexico’s drug cartels and U.S. street and prison based gangs. Working directly with drug cartels and dealing at the wholesale bulk level has allowed the Texas gangs, and gangs in the other Southwest border states, to accumulate more power and money.
This union has led to an increasing dominance of Mexico’s cartels over U.S. distribution networks for their products. In addition to the money, the relationship has also put the fear of God in many U.S. based gangsters according to Emil Garza, a gang expert for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“The cartels don't play by traditional rules about peace treaties between gangsters or not killing families, “said Garza “These guys get a lot of pressure from the drug cartels themselves to take care of business. There are no questions asked.”
There have been more than a few stories of hard-core U.S. prison gang members scrambling for their lives to escape a cartel after having drugs or cash seized by police.
“Right now that is one of the biggest dynamics law enforcement is trying to deal with — all bets are off when you are dealing with a drug cartel,” he said. “Some of our domestic groups are scared of them.”
Sources used for this story:
U.S. Marshal's service report:
Texas gangs news: