The Barrio Azteca was founded in 1986 by Texas prison offenders Benito “Benny” Acosta, Alberto “Indio” Estrada, Benjamín “T-Top” Olivarez, Manuel "Tolon" Cardoza, Manuel “El Grande” Fernandez, Raúl “Rabillo” Fierro and José “Gitano” Ledesma. The prison gang first began after it's founders, many who were from El Paso, Texas, decided to unite El Paso and Juarez Mexico prisoners as a line of protection against other Hispanic prison gangs. Older established prison gangs such as the Mexikanemi (Texas Mexican Mafia) and the Texas Syndicate were caught up in a deadly gang war, which allowed the Barrio Azteca to grow right under their noses. The Barrio Azteca, knowing that it would eventually have to earn the respect of the powerful Mexikanemi and dangerous Texas Syndicate, began recruiting hundreds of new violent inmates, many who were arriving to prison for gang related crimes in the west Texas, northern Mexico borderland.

By 1996, the Barrio Azteca had grown to become the most powerful criminal enterprise of the Texas southwest, northern Mexico and southern New Mexico. The Barrio Azteca’s primary goal was to regulate the narcotics trade of the El Paso, Texas and Juarez Mexico area. The gang began imposing a 5-10% "tax" fee or "quota" to non-affiliated drug dealers, and would eventually form an alliance with the Juarez drug cartel. This powerful alliance would promote the level of the Barrio Azteca and would surprise both law enforcement officials and rival prison gangs. Never had a relatively unsophisticated prison gang morphed into what would become a well financed drug-gang that enforces it's control by kicking down doors, kidnapping, butchering and beheading it's rivals. This prison gang/drug cartel alliance would give birth to narcoterrorism, a new and difficult challenge for law encforement agencies in both Mexico and the United States.

How a dangerous Texas based prison gang could spill into Mexico and ruin Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million is a question many ask. The answer is actually quite simple. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons were left with no other option but to deport thousands of paroled undocumented offenders into Juarez Mexico after serving their prison sentence. State and U.S. federal law mandates that all Mexican born nationals who commit serious crimes in the United States be deported back to Mexico instead of paroled on U.S. soil. Under these circumstances the Barrio Azteca were able to bridge into Mexico and thrive in chaos.

The foundation of the Barrio Azteca would eventually be shaken in 2006 by law enforement officials. The dangerous international prison gang had become the #1 target of the FBI who with the help of the El Paso Police Department, El Paso County Sheriffs Department, Texas Department of Public Saftey and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice began gathering intellegence and preparing to charge it's gang leaders under RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Outside criminal organizations who cross "The Line" by conducting any form drug transaction without the approval of La Linea are eliminated by Barrio Azteca hit-squads commissioned by the Juarez cartel. Drug traffickers belonging to the Juarez drug cartel take advantage of the "cheap labor" offered by newly imported Barrio Azteca ex-convicts desperate for work.

Today the Barrio Azteca and Juarez drug cartel partnership, aka "La Línea" or "The Line", are locked in a blood war with the Sinaloa drug cartel and other gangs. Sources in law enforcement state that "The Sinaloa drug cartel is gradually gaining control of the northern Mexican region once dominated by the Juarez drug cartel and Barrio Azteca."


Symbols: 915, EPT, 21, BA, Azteca theme tattoos.
Ranking structure: Paramilitary
Territory: El Paso TX, Ciudad Juarez, Midland TX, Odessa TX, Las Cruces New Mexico, and small chapters across the United States and northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Alliances: Juarez cartel
Members: 12,000
Racial make up: Hispanic
Threat: High



The Barrio Azteca follows a paramilitary chain of command of Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants and soldiers. The gang is well structured and has as many as 12,000 members in both Mexico and the United States. The Barrio Azteca requires its members remain loyal to the organization for life. Quitting the gang is prohibited and the consequences of leaving the organization is death. Approved membership in the Barrio Azteca requires that a prospect carry out a "camello" or hit for the gang inside prison or after release from prison. Prospects must first serve 2 years of supporting the gang in prison before being "blessed", or "awarded sandals", the new member is issued a number written in code and added to the gang roster. Barrio Azteca leaders are able to verify the identification of each of its members by their encrypted roster. Deciphering gang rosters is difficult for TDCJ gang intelligence officers and Law enforcement officials since codes are regulary changed by gang leaders. The deadly gang has chapters in cities across Texas and has succeeded in recruiting members from California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.


Capo Mayor (captain major): The gang leader. A captain major is the veteran gang member who is voted in by the gangs selected Capos.
Capos (captains): Gang leaders in charge of maintaining gang roster and issue orders to lieutenants and sergeants.
Lieutenants: Command sergeants and maintain discipline.
Sargentos (sergeants): Collect taxes, recruit and enforce gang discipline.
Soldados or carnales: Foot soldiers. Distribute drugs and carry out gang missions.
Prospectos: Prospective gang members distribute drugs and carry out missions.
Esquinas: Associates back up the gang and conduct business with the gang.


Following their emergence into the prison gang scene, both the Texas Syndicate and Mexikanemi (Mexican Mafia of Texas) refused to recognize the Barrio Azteca gang and declared war with the gang. The out numbered Azteca gang struggled in prison due to their numerous enemies but some how managed to murder several members of the Texas Syndicate in prisons and jails all over the state of Texas. Barrio Azteca earned the respect of the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia and a peace treaty was signed on July of 1997. The Azteca’s have multiplied and now out number the Texas Syndicate. The highly organized prison gang currently operates in both state and federal prisons all over the United States and Mexico. The FBI recently classified the Barrio Azteca as a national security threat after a wave of drug related violence in Juarez Mexico involving the gang. This criminal organization is responsible for dozens of murders in Texas and Mexican prisons. The Azteca’s hit media head lines on December 2003 after the gang murdered six rival gang members of the PRM prison gang in the Cereso prison in Mexico and 8 more on February 2004.


The criminal organization once focused in black tar heroin distribution, but recently partnered with the Juarez cartel in 2001. Together both gangs control the import of narcotics and export of fire arms. The Juarez cartel supplies the prison gang with drugs, fire arms and Mexican police protection, and in return the Aztecas traffic and distribute the cartels narcotics, as well as provide security and murder for hire. The Barrio Azteca use female heroin addicts to smuggle narcotics through their body cavities.




In 1987, Barrio Azteca members murder a Raza Unida prospect. The Raza Unida do not retaliate and validate the attack after it is discovered that that the victim was a former associate of the Barrio Azteca. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1988, the Mexikanemi instigates a war with the Barrio Azteca at the Cofield unit. A major state wide battle between the two prison gangs claims the lives of 2 inmates. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1993, the Barrio Azteca brutally beat and murder a Texas Syndicate member in the El Paso County jail causing the Texas Syndicate to alliance it’s self with the Mexikanemi. Both the Texas Syndicate and Mexikanemi team up against the Barrio Azteca. (El Paso Times)

In 1994, Barrio Azteca members murder a Texas Syndicate member at the Wallace unit in Colorado City, Texas. (Associated Press)

In 1995, the Barrio Azteca stop the growth of an up and coming prison gang called the West Texas Carnales. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On April 1996, Barrio Azteca members murder a former Mexican Mafia member by strangling him to death in the El Paso County jail. (El Paso Times)

On June of 1997 the Mexikanemi and Texas Syndicate settle a truce and sign a peace agreement called the “Manifesto”. The gangs agree to revise the manifesto each year on May 5th. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1998, members of the PRM (Partido Revolucionario Mexicano) assist the Tijuana, Mexico based Border Brother’s gang in a riot against the Azteca’s in a federal penitentiary. Tension erupts and both gangs attempt to settle the dispute.

In 1999, members of the PRM (Partido Revolucionario Mexicano) attack a member of the Barrio Azteca at the Terrell unit in Livingston, Texas. The Azteca’s retaliate by murdering a 3 PRM rival and injuring several in prisons state wide. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 2000, a PRM member is murdered by Azteca’s at the Cereso prison in Juarez. (Associated Press)

On late 2000, Azteca captain Alberto Indio Estrada is released from prison after spending 17 years locked up. He deserts the gang and steals funds belonging to the organization. Manuel El Grande Fernandez replaces Estrada as leader. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 2001, both the Tango Blast and Barrio Azteca engage in a gang fight in a gymnasium at the Torrez state prison in Hondo, Texas. Both gangs settle a truce soon after. (Associated Press)

On January of 2002, members of the Barrio Azteca brutally stab a Tango Blast member while the victim is using the restroom at the Robertson state prison in Abilene, Texas. A gang war between the two gangs erupts state wide soon after. (Associated Press)

On June 2002, the Tango Blast retaliates against the Barrio Azteca by severely beating 4 of its members in the John B. Connally state prison in Kenedy, Texas. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 2003, the Barrio Azteca and Juarez drug cartel form an alliance and together both gangs vow to eliminate every PRM member in northern Mexico. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On July 2003, The Barrio Azteca declares war on the New Mexico Syndicate over a drug and territory dispute in southern New Mexico. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 2004, the Sinaloa drug cartel and Juarez cartel form alliances and create a federation between the two. The Barrio Azteca is included and carries out executions for the Federation. (Associated Press)

In early 2005, Barrio Azteca members brutally murder a member of the rival Border Brothers gang in Mexico’s Cereso prison. (Associated Press)

In February 2005, the Azteca’s pay Cereso prison guards to supply the gang with hammers and shields. The Azteca then break down a wall that separates the Azteca majority with the PRM minority. 6 members of the PRM are brutally murdered by Azteca gang members. (Associated Press)

On August 2005, Barrio Azteca member Chato Flores is kidnapped and murdered by fellow Azteca members for stealing millions of dollars from the Juarez cartel. Associated Press)

On January 2005, officials of the city of El Paso enforce an injunction on the Barrio Azteca in an effort to stop narcotics dealing on the streets. (El Paso Times)

On June 2006, 29-year-old ex Barrio Azteca member David Fonseca Jr. is brutally murdered in a parking lot by members of the prison gang. (El Paso Times)

On 2006, the Azteca’s experience a power struggle between leaders and 8 members of the gang are murdered by fellow members. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On October 2006, Phyllis Woodall, the owner of the strip club Naked Harem, is arrested and charged with operating a prostitution ring with the Barrio Azteca. Woodall is sentenced to 16 years in prison. (El Paso Times)

In 2007, Federal Public Defender Sandy Valles, 58, is arrested after FBI agents discover phone recordings of alleged gang leaders in prison conducting criminal transactions with Sandy Valles New. (El Paso Times)

On May 2007, Johnny "Conejo" Michelletti, a former Azteca gang member, reveals crucial gang intelligence to the FBI. The information is used to indict several of the gang’s leaders. As a result, dozens of ranking members of the Barrio Azteca are arrested and charged under RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and sentenced to federal prison. Ranking members indicted and convicted are gang captains Carlos Perea, Manuel Cardoza, Benjamin Alvarez, Francisco Herrera, Eugene Mona and Arturo Enriquez. (El Paso Times)

On April 17, 2008, Barrio Azteca leader David "Chicho" Meraz, 49, is found slain in Juárez. Meraz who was the gangs Juarez Capo was murdered by fellow Azteca members. (Associated Press)

On March, 4, 2009, dozens of members of the Barrio Azteca murder 20 PRM prison gang rivals at the Cereso State prison in Chihuahua, Mexico. (Associated Press)

On May 18, 2009, 15 Barrio Azteca members are arrested by the FBI for cocaine dealing, including Azteca gang captain Gualberto "Bird". (El Paso Times)

On September 03, 2009, 18 Barrio Azteca members gunned down in Juarez rehab. (Associated Press)

On March 13, 2010 Barrio Azteca hit-men gun down U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelfs an El Paso Sherriff's detention officer and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee as they drove to the border. (See Photos) (Associated Press)

On July 1, 2010 federal police arrest Joel Abraham Caudillo (also known as Adrian Villanueva) and six other Barrio Azteca gang members allegedly involved in the U.S. Consulate slaying. Police find automatic firearms, communication radios and bulletproof vests. (Associated Press)

On July 27, 2011 A surveillance camera at Juarez's Cereso prison in Mexico captures armed men shooting automatic weapons into a holding cell killing all 17 Barrio Azteca gangmembers inside. Hired hit men working for the Sinaloa drug cartel are blamed for the attack. SEE ACTUAL VIDEO

On May 26, 2012 Barrio Azteca gang member Ramon "Spooky" Renteria is reported to have committed suicide inside of his single man cell in the El Paso County Jail. While Sheriffs report suicide, some speculate Renteria was murdered by detention officers angry about the murder of one of their own. Full Report (Associated Press)




18 Barrio Azteca Members Murdered



BORDER BROTHERS - The gang made bitter enemies with the Mara Salvatrucha &other prison gangs..

HPL - HERMANDAD DE PISTOLEROS LATINOS - Translates to "Brotherhood of the Latin Gunman"

INDIAN POSSE - The Indian Posse are involved in cocaine and marijuana dealing, boot legging & murder.

LATIN KINGS - The Latin Kings originated in the streets in Chicago in the 1943...........................................

LOS SOLIDOS - Los Solidos gang was founded in 1990 by ruthless Puerto Rican street thugs .....................

MEXICAN MAFIA - The Mexican Mafia is commonly confused with the Texas based Mexikanemi............

MEXIKANEMI - Texas Mexican Mafia - There is an estimated 17,000 Mexikanemi members....................

MEXICLES - Typical of all prison gangs, the PRM transformed from prey to predator in no time.................

MS-13 - MARA SALVATRUCHA - In 1980, The MS 13 was founded by El Salvadorian criminals...............

MANITOBA WARRIORS - The Manitoba Warriors met its first rival, the Indian Posse prison gang...........



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