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Gang members sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiring to murder

By Jessica Priest
April 4, 2013 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated April 4, 2013 at 11:05 p.m.

Hilario Figirova


The following people were listed in the indictment as co-conspirators:

• Joe Mendoza, also known as "Loco," 38, of Victoria. He was indicted in September 2011 on three murder, two attempted murder and five engaging in organized criminal activity charges and is awaiting trial.

• Marcus Perez, also known as "Marque," 33, of Victoria. He is facing murder and engaging in organized criminal activity charges. He has a plea hearing set for April 18.

• Angel Lozano, 24, of Victoria. He was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and has a plea hearing set for May 14.

•  Raul Moreno Gonzales, also known as "Racing Bull," 48, of Victoria. He was convicted in 2009 of possessing between 5 to 50 pounds of marijuana and engaging in organized criminal activity and sentenced to 80 years and life in prison, respectively.

• Jose Celis, also known as "Tiger," 23, of Laredo. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Two reputed Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos gang members will spend the next 30 years behind bars after they were convicted earlier this week of ordering a hit on several men.

Hilario Figirova Jr., 30, of San Antonio, and Christopher Allen Rivera, 28, of Victoria, pleaded guilty Wednesday as part of an agreement with the state to two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity.

They were charged with shooting a man Sept. 7, 2008, and another man in an unrelated incident on Nov. 19, 2008, according to an indictment.

Both victims survived but were left crippled after the attacks, said Victoria Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler.

He thinks arguments at area nightclubs set each crime in motion.

"If you are publicly humiliated by somebody, what would normally be a private concern can become gang business, particularly if you have any rank or standard," Tyler said.

He said the November attack occurred after members of the Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos ventured into a night club frequented by a rival gang, the Mexican Mafia.

"It was retaliation," Tyler said.

Defense attorney Jerry Clark, who represented Rivera, said there was no doubt that everyone involved was part of the gang "subculture."

"The exact reasons why the shooting happened, I am not 100 percent certain of that," he said. "However, my client, when presented with the plea offer and given the history of what juries have done in similar cases, believed it was in his best interest to take the plea bargain."

Clark said Rivera resolved several other felony cases that same day, some of which were drug-related.

Figirova's first trial in connection with the September 2008 shooting ended in October with a hung jury. Then, Judge Kemper Stephen Williams was forced to declare a mistrial.

"I would have liked to have finished then," Tyler said. "I think, though, that this is a workable solution."

Defense attorney Richard W. Rogers III, who represented Figirova, could not be reached for comment.

Rogers said after Figirova's trial in October that he was innocent.

"The state's case was primarily based on people that were testifying in the hopes of leniency (for other crimes)," he said.



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