The Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos which translates to “Brotherhood of the Latin Gunman”, was founded by a Texas prisoners Joe Mendoza and Alberto Rodriguez in the early 1980’s. Their intention of forming the gang was to protect themselves from the Texas Syndicate by uniting prisoners from small towns across the Rio Grande Valley. Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos hierarchy is structured with three ranking leaders known as “Llaveros” or “The keys”. Ranks include General, Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant, and Soldier. The radical criminal organization has grown rapidly and is involved in crimes such as drug trafficking, murder and extortion.

Symbols: 16/12, 45, HPL, tattoos of hand guns
Ranking structure: Paramilitary
Territory: Laredo, Rio Grande Valley and cities across the state of TX, and southern Mexico.
Alliances: none
Members: 4,000
Racial make up: Hispanic
Threat: Moderate

The violent prison gang remained small through out the 1980’s but began to multiply in the 1990’s after the gang began recruiting members from cities out side of the Rio Grande Valley. The original HPL members from the Rio Grande Valley resented the new members being recruited from San Antonio and Houston, Texas. A power struggle within the prison gang’s ranks ensued causing the group to splinter into two separate chapters. The original HPL members decided to call themselves the HPL 45’s, while the San Antonio and Houston members were known as the 16/12’s. The two factions went to war and finally reunited under the name HPL in 1998.

The HPL gained a bad reputation among other prison gangs after HPL began recruiting teenagers off the streets. Tension between the HPL and other prison gangs intensified after HPL members were arrested for murdering 6 year old Robert Conchola in an attempt to kill the childs father. The HPL then killed a 16 year old boy soon after.


In 1982, Texas prisoners Joe Mendoza and Alberto Rodriguez form the Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In Early 1985, an alliance is formed between the HPL and the Mexikanemi. Both gangs attempt to destroy the Texas Syndicate in a 10 year prison gang war. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1987, a power struggle within the gang’s ranks ensued causing the group to splinter into two separate chapters. The original HPL members decided to call themselves the HPL 45’s, while the San Antonio and Houston members were known as the 16/12’s. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1992, both the HPL and Mexikanemi settle a truce with the rival Texas Syndicate. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1997, the HPL declares war on the Raza Unida after RU members refuse to allow the HPL to recruit new members at a south Texas transfer facility. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1998, the two HPL factions, the 45’s and the 16/12’s finally reunite in 1998. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 1999, the HPL and Raza Unida both settle a truce after 1 year of fighting. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On July 29, 1999 Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos gang-member Bruce Medina kidnaps Pedro Padron while washing his car. The victims body is found 7 months later in Hidalgo County. Padron had been shot multiple times. (Case No00/113136)

In September 2000, Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos prison gang members Miguel “Fat Boy” Paredes, John Anthony Saenz and Greg Alvarado murder then burn the bodies of victims Nelly Bravo, 23 and Shawn Michael Caine, 23 and Adrian Torres, 27 in San Antonio. (source: Associated Press)

On March 20, 2000, HPL member Antonio Lara, 28, uses dental floss to cut out of his cell at the Coffield unit and brutally murders 41 year old Roland Rios of the Texas Syndicate as he’s being escorted in handcuffs by guards to the shower. Unable to defend himself Rios is stabbed over 30 times and dies at the scene. (Gang Intelligence 101)

In 2001, HPL members are attacked by the Texas Syndicate at the Telford maximum security prison in Texarkana, Texas. The HPL declare war on TS soon after. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On January 2003, the Raza Unida declares war on the HPL over drug related conflicts. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On November 24, 2003, HPL members brutally murder 6 year old Robert Conchola by shooting the child in the face. The victim’s father was a known member of the Raza Unida prison gang and involved in a drug dispute with the HPL. Loya v. State, No. 13-04-00537-CR (Tex. App. 7/6/2006) (Tex. App., 2006)

On December 6, 2003, Raza Unida members murder rival HPL member Michael Rodriguez on a desolate dirt road. Rodriguez had died from numerous gunshot wounds to the head, abdomen, and extremities. The murder involved a gang war between the Raza Unida and Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos.Salazar v. State, No. 13-06-00075-CR (Tex. App. 4/10/2008) (Tex. App., 2008)

On January 2004, the Raza Unida declare war on the HPL(Gang Intelligence 101)

In July 7, 2004 HPL gang members Mario Esteban Canchola, 26; Albert R. Perez, 37; and Joe Mendoza, 36, shoot Anthony Melcher and “Josh” Anthony Gonzalez after intending to kill Paul Benavides who was standing near by. Gonzalez is killed. (Victoria Advocate)

In 2004, the HPL and Texas Syndicate settle on a truce. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On April 17, 2005, HPL member Johnny Oscar Villarreal murders ex-member Donald Bonham in a bar in Beeville, Texas. Bonham is murdered after he fails to report to gang meetings. Munoz v. State, No. 01-08-00223-CR (Tex. App. 1/29/2009) (Tex. App., 2009)

On March 3, 2005 police arrest Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos gangmember Juan Eladio Villareal-Saenza, a convicted killer, on criminal charges of re-entry after deportation. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Press Release)

In May 2005, The Raza Unida and HPL settle on a peace treaty. (Gang Intelligence 101)

On November 2005, law enforcement officials learn that HPL members in Laredo, Texas are supporting the Gulf Cartel and are receiving narcotics from the cartel at discount prices. (Associated Press)

On Dec. 21, 2005, Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos gang members Alfredo Gutierrez Valdez, Mario Quintanilla and Jesus Oscar Arcos kick down the apartment door of 23-year-old Larissa Cavazos thinking the apartment belongs to drug dealers. Offenders pistol whip the Edinburg, Texas woman, then shoot her to death. (Associated Press)

On Jan. 19, 2006, Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos gang-members Timothy “Timo” Mendoza, Joe Brian “Turtle” Martinez Sr. and Marcus “Marque” Perez stab ex-HPL member John Gilbert Licon to death in Victoria, Texas. (Associated Press)

On September 28, 2006, the HPL is nearly dismantled by the FBI after 12 of its highest ranking members are indicted on 17 counts of federal drug and firearm possession, conspiracy, distribution and other criminal violations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation dubs the bust “Operation Pistol Whipped” and raid several homes in pre-dawn hours across the state. (Associated Press)

In 2007, members of the Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos prison gang were charged with stealing large loads of narcotics from Mc Allen, Texas drug traffickers and reselling the drugs. Arrested are HPL members Robert Ortega-Martinez, 28, Ricardo Villegas, 28, Eduardo Ontiveros-Trevino, 37, Jaime Alberto Saavedra, 29, Victor Marquez, 28, and Jesus Espinosa, 30. (Associated Press)