Two Barrio Azteca gang members have pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy for their involvement in a gang known for drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, intimidation, violence, threats of violence and murder.

Fabian "Shamoo" Rodriguez, 35, of El Paso, Texas, and Mexican national Juan "Porky" Manuel Viscaino Amaro, 41, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norbert J. Garney in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division.

Rodriguez and Amaro were associates in the gang, which began in the late 1980s as a violent prison gang and has expanded into a transnational criminal organization. The Barrio Azteca is primarily based in West Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and throughout state and federal prisons. The gang has a militaristic command structure and includes captains, lieutenants, sergeants, soldiers and associates such as Rodriguez and Amaro.

Members of the gang have engaged in a host of criminal activity committed since Jan. 1, 2003, including the March 13, 2010, murders in Juarez of U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelf and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee.

The Barrio Azteca profits by importing heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. from Mexico. Gang members and associates also allegedly charge a "street tax" or "cuota" on businesses and criminals operating in their turf. These profits are used to support gang members in prison by funneling money into prison commissary accounts of gang leaders and to pay for defense lawyers or fines. The "cuota" profits are also allegedly reinvested into the organization to purchase drugs, guns and ammunition.

During the plea hearings, Rodriguez and Amaro admitted to working with the gang in buying and selling illegal drugs on the streets of El Paso. They confirmed that the gang extorted money from drug dealers operating on the gang's turf.  

According to Rodriguez's plea agreement, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under Amaro's plea agreement, if approved by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone, he will receive a 12 year prison term.

Thirty-five members and associates of the gang, including Rodriguez, Amaro and 11 others who have pleaded guilty, were charged in a third superseding indictment unsealed in March 2011 with various counts of racketeering, murder, drug offenses, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Trial is set to begin April 6, 2012.