Texas Mexican Mafia members convicted in police officer's 2014 death

Balcones Heights Officer Julian Pesina murdered in May 2014, officials say

. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Two members of the Texas Mexican Mafia were convicted by a federal jury Monday in connection with the 2014 death of Balcones Heights police Officer Julian Pesina, authorities said.

Jesse Santibanez, 29, and Alfredo Cardona, 36, were found guilty of one count of murder in aid of racketeering, and one count of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering, according to an announcement from a group of officials including U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr.

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Another member of the same Texas Mexican Mafia group, Ruben Reyes, previously pleaded guilty to similar charges, including the officer’s murder. 

A fourth mafia member, 37-year-old Jerry Idrogo, pleaded guilty last August to a racketeering conspiracy charge that included the same homicide.

Evidence presented in trial showed that the group killed Pesina on May 4, 2014, in front of his Hillcrest Drive business, the Notorious Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio, investigators said.

Testimony from the trial revealed that Pesina had claimed membership in the Texas Mexican Mafia, that he was selling drugs and even paying a 10 percent street tax to the TMM, when the group learned that Pesina was actually a Balcones Heights police officer, according to a Department of Justice news release.

On the day of Pesina’s death, Idrogo contacted Pesina and arranged for pickup of the street tax outside of Pesina’s tattoo shop, officials said.

Just before the meeting, Idrogo dropped off Santibanez and Cardona on the side of the building. Once Pesina walked up to the car and handed Idrogo the “dime” payment money, as it’s called, Santibanez and Cardona came around the corner and shot Pesina to death, the release said.

Santibanez, Cardona and Idrogo all remain in federal custody.

Santibanez and Cardona each face a minimum mandatory sentence of life in federal prison. They are scheduled to be formally sentenced Feb. 8, 2018.

Sentencing for Idrogo is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29.

Reyes was previously sentenced to five consecutive life imprisonment terms.

The FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the San Antonio Police Department and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office all contributed to the investigation.

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