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Monday, 11 May 2009

Mauricio Diaz, 33, the known leader of the Puro Lil Mafia

Mauricio Diaz, 33, the known leader of the Puro Lil Mafia ( PLM ), a violent criminal street gang that operated in Wichita Falls, Texas, was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Dallas, announced acting U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Diaz, has been in custody since his arrest on April 8, 2009, when members of the Wichita Falls Police Department SWAT Team and FBI agents executed arrest and search warrants for Diaz at his residence on Redbud Lane in Wichita Falls. A detention hearing is scheduled for Diaz in U.S. District Court in Dallas on May 11, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Wm. F. Sanderson, Jr.On April 8, 2009, law enforcement arrested eight of 12 alleged PLM members that were indicted the previous day by a federal grand jury in Dallas on federal weapons and/or narcotics charges. The remaining four defendants were already in state or local custody on related charges. The defendants have pled not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to be tried in Wichita Falls in late June 2009.During the search of Diaz’s residence last month, officers noted a strong smell of marihuana throughout the house and located Diaz, along with his wife and two children. Officers also located a digital scale, with what appeared to be marihuana residue, in the master bedroom. On the top of the dresser, next to the scale, was a box of plastic sandwich bags which are commonly used to package illegal narcotics. In a top drawer of the dresser, officers found two large Ziploc bags containing approximately three grams of marihuana. In the next drawer, officers found a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber special revolver and a box of ammunition wrapped in a gray bandanna; more ammunition was found in the kitchen pantry. According to documents filed in court, PLM members often carry or wear gray bandanas to signify their membership in the gang. Officers also found a digital pocket balance on a shelf in the closet; balances are commonly used in drug transactions.Outside the residence, two surveillance cameras were found pointing toward the front yard and street. There was a small television on the floor in the living room that displayed the camera views. The surveillance system was in good working order. According to court documents, such extensive video surveillance is also commonly used to protect places where drugs are kept.The indictment charges Diaz with one count each of possession with intent to distribute marihuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The maximum statutory sentence for the drug offense, upon conviction, is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory five year penalty, to run consecutive to any other imposed sentence, and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory sentence for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which would require Diaz, upon conviction, to forfeit his residence on Redbud Lane, as well as the firearm, to the government.Mr. Jacks praised the excellent investigative efforts of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement ( ICE ), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Wichita Falls Police Department, the Wichita Falls County Sheriff’s Office, the Wichita Falls City Attorney’s Office and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Taly Haffar and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hector M. Valle are prosecuting the case.

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