HOUSTON – An investigation spearheaded by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Corpus Christi that began back in November 2016 has now led to the conviction of 16 gang members and associates for various crimes including RICO conspiracy, federal drug conspiracy and federal weapons violations.
On Dec. 11, James Randall Lee Ross, aka “Silver”, 45, became the latest defendant to be sentenced as a result of the investigation when he was ordered by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, to serve 292 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.
Previously sentenced were Corpus Christi residents David Wayne Frost, aka “Spider”, 47, Michael Lee Craig, aka “Rooster”, 44, Mark Clairborne Pennington, aka “Shiloh”, 59, Brian Russell Campbell, aka “Iceman”, 35, Johnny Glenn Voiles, aka “Panhead”, 47, Jimmy Curtis Mullenax III, aka “Curt”, 40, Kenneth Brandenburh, aka “K-Dog”, 44, Matthew Jay Thompson, aka “Pie Face”, 33, Pedro Campos, aka “Pete”, 59, Abby Telge, 28, Johnny Hagensick, 49, Randy Stasney, 60, Allen Saunders, 35, Blanca Blanche Sandoval, 40, and Sue Campbell, 34.
They received terms of imprisonment ranging from 120 to 292 months in federal prison.
The convicted gang members – all members or associates of either the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) or Tango Corpitos – were involved in a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in the illegal trafficking of controlled substances, extortion, murder, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapons and other acts of violence. The organization operated throughout Texas, including Corpus Christi.
One of the purposes of the criminal enterprise was to keep victims in fear of the enterprise and in fear of its leaders, members and associates through threats of violence and actual violence. Ross, Frost, Craig, Pennington, Campbell and Voiles were convicted of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity involving ABT between 1995 and 2017. Ross, Frost and Craig were also convicted of violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity occurring in September 2015. All 16 were convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine between July 2012 to 2017.
The ABT is a powerful race-based state-wide organization operating both in and out of state and federal prisons throughout the State of Texas and the U.S. ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). It modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang formed in the California prison system during the 1960s.
In recent years, Corpus Christi has become increasingly plagued by gang activity. As a result, HSI has ramped up its law enforcement efforts to confront the problem head-on. In fact, a 2017 surge from March 26 to May 6, resulted in 164 gang-related arrests.
The gangs engage in drug trafficking, extortion, murder, and other acts of violence and intimidation which has had a deleterious effect on the city. HSI Corpus Christi Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brad Scott discussed the nature of the problem and how his team is working to attack the issue.
“The proximity of Corpus Christi to Mexico makes it appealing to criminal organizations” explained ASAC Scott. “During the nationwide HSI surge targeting gang activity in 2017, Corpus Christi had the most arrests across the entire country.”
According to Scott, to remove the threat of gangs from the community it is critical for his team to work closely with other law enforcement agencies.
“The nature and extent of this problem make it difficult for it to be solved by just one agency,” he said. “By working with our law enforcement partners and the Texas Anti-Gang Center we can slowly eradicate this criminal element from our communities and make them a safer place for everyone to live and work.”
Law enforcement agencies assisting in the investigation included the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, Corpus Christi Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety, Nueces County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lance Watt and Julie K. Hampton are prosecuting the case.