2 Mexican Mafia members get life in federal prison for shooting death of Balcones Heights cop

Jesse Santibanez, Alfredo Cardona played role in death of Officer Julian Pesina

SAN ANTONIO – A federal judge in San Antonio on Wednesday sentenced two Texas Mexican Mafia members to life in federal prison for their roles in the slaying of a Balcones Heights police officer.

Jesse Santibanez, 30, and Alfredo Cardona, 37, were found guilty in November on one count of murder in aid of racketeering and one count of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering. 

Evidence presented during a trial revealed that acting upon an order by Mexican Mafia member, Ruben Reyes, Santibanez and Cardona ambushed and fatally shot Officer Julian Pesina on May 4, 2014, in front of his business, the Notorious Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio, in the 2800 block of Hillcrest Drive.

Pesina, who was a member of the Mexican Mafia, was selling narcotics and paying a 10 percent street tax called the "dime" to the criminal organization when members learned he was a police officer, trial testimony revealed.

Reyes pleaded guilty in July 2016 to similar charges, including the Pesina murder and four other slayings. He is currently serving five consecutive life in prison sentences.

A Mexican Mafia sergeant, Jerry Idrogo, was sentenced in November to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge that included his role in Pesina's murder.

Prosecutors said Idrogo contacted Pesina to collect the tax outside his tattoo shop when he dropped off Santibanez and Cardona on the side of the building. 

When Pesina walked up to the car and handed Idrogo the "dime" payment, Santibanez and Cardona came around the corner and opened fire on Pesina, federal officials said.

About the Author: