Federal jurors in Midland convicted four Midland-Odessa members of the Barrio Azteca organization on drug possession and racketeering charges Wednesday evening.
Santos Almanza, Miguel Nieto, Carlos Hernandez and Ramon Morales were convicted for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine as well as marijuana.
Almanza, Nieto and Hernandez were also convicted of one count of violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute and one count of conspiracy to violate the RICO statute.
Now, Almanza, 32, Nieto, 31, Hernandez, 40, and Morales, 36, face up to life in prison.
United States attorneys say Almanza and Morales headed up Barrio Azteca's Midland-Odessa operations -- which involved smuggling marijuana and cocaine in West Texas.
Testimony indicated that the organization engaged in robbery, extortion, as well as violence and intimidation in and around the Midland/Odessa area. Almanza is also accused of trying to murder someone on October 20, 2009.
The United States Department of Justice also says Almanza, Flores, Nieto and Hernandez each agreed to commit at least two acts of racketeering activity while conducting the affairs of the criminal organization. The racketeering activity included drug distribution and a series of home invasion robberies in the Midland area.
Another Barrio Azteca member -- Benito Gonzales -- pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of manufacturing crack cocaine. Gonzales, 46, now faces 10 years in federal prison.
Seven other Barrio Azteca members -- including 29-year-old Marcus Calderon, who admitted to pulling the trigger in the attempted murder -- have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Their potential sentences range from 5 years to life in federal prison.