From American Chronicle
(Picture from TimesRecordNews)
WICHITA FALLS, TX—Mauricio Diaz, 33, the known leader of the Puro Lil Mafia (PLM), a violent criminal street gang that operated in Wichita Falls, Texas, was convicted by a federal jury on all counts of an indictment charging him with various weapons and narcotics charges, announced 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 in Wichita Falls.
Specifically, following the one-day trial, the jury found Diaz guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces a minimum statutory sentence of five years up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reed O´Connor on December 15, 2009.
Diaz´s convictions brings the total to 14 PLM gang members who were charged federally and have been convicted.
At trial, the government presented evidence that during the search of Diaz´s residence in April 2009, officers noted a strong smell of marijuana throughout the house and located Diaz, along with his wife and two children. Officers also located a digital scale, with what appeared to be marijuana 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 ziplock bags containing approximately 68.7 grams of marijuana. 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. 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.
The government also presented evidence that 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. Such extensive video surveillance is also commonly used to protect places where drugs are kept.
U.S. Attorney Jacks praised the excellent investigative efforts of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 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 prosecuted the case.