Recent cases highlight ways Texas Mexican Mafia deals with internal conflicts

Murder of local police officer, attempted hit on ranking member reveal inner workings

SAN ANTONIO – Much of what is known about the Texas Mexican Mafia comes from successful investigations led by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Each case provides a glimpse inside the dark and violent world of the gang and how they operate in the shadows.

Two recent cases that are part of ongoing investigations highlight how the gang takes care of members who fall out of favor with the leadership.

Days before Balcones Heights Police Officer Julian Pesina was murdered, Bexar County Sheriff's deputies raided a home where Pesina's name was found on a roster of known Mexikanemi associates. The home belonged to Jerry Idrogo, one of the three men accused of being involved in Pesina's murder.

Idrogo is accused of setting up a meeting with Pesina May 4 outside the tattoo shop Pesina co-owned.

They talked briefly until two gunmen opened fire on Pesina. The shooters got into Idrogo's car and fled the scene.

"It is a blood-in, blood-out organization. Most members get in by killing somebody," said Gabe Morales, an expert on the Texas Mexican Mafia. "They know the only way of getting out is to die. They know that getting in."

Morales said when the gang leadership decides it's time for a member to go, their time is short.

"For a high-level person or for somebody that they want to make a high-level example of, it's going to be very brutal, obvious signs that it was done by them. There will be no questions about it," Morales said.

Other times the gang likes to keep its work hidden from investigators.

"That's probably what happened in the Ruben "Menace" Reyes case. They used him for several hits, then decided it's time for him to go," Reyes said.

According to a federal indictment, Reyes said he was serving as the lieutenant of lieutenants in 2014 when he allegedly murdered three high-ranking members in three separate hits on the same day.

Reyes lured each man to their death by telling them they had jobs to do. Instead, they were shot, then buried in a pre-dug grave near Pearsall.

The victims had been stripped of their ranks for mishandling $60,000 and making poor decisions in the gang's day-to-day business affairs.

"They should know it's coming but a lot of times, they are caught totally surprised because if they don't know they did anything wrong, and sometimes it may be politics," Morales said.

Several months later, the tables turned on Reyes. A hit squad went to his apartment and opened fire when he opened the door. Reyes was hit but he survived.

Days later, he was spilling his secrets to SAPD homicide detectives, detailing the murders he committed and taking detectives to the grave where the bodies were buried.

By working with investigators, Reyes violated the gang's rule of not cooperating with police.

But Morales believes he's not the only one in trouble with the gang.

"That botched attempt, the people who botched that hit, now, are in trouble, too," Morales said. "That's the thing with these organizations, they mostly, again, kill each other."

The three men accused of killing Pesina remain in custody on murder charges and are currently awaiting trial.

Reyes remains in federal custody. He has until April to enter a plea or go to trial.

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