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uncommon to see violent acts committed by Mexican Mafia members in the Rio Grande Valley because the gang is intent on keeping a low profile.

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Tim Flores, HPD's gang intelligence officer, said the Mexican Mafia in Texas operates within a "paramilitary type" structure, with a president and vice president who "control all aspects of the Mexican Mafia in Texas," generals who oversee regions within the state, and captains and lieutenants who "keep the soldiers in line" in various locales.

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When picked up by McAllen Texas Department of Public Safety troopers soon after the attack, officers noted that Serna had "tattoos that pertain to the prison gang known as the 'Mexican Mafia,' " and that DPS gang experts later confirmed that Serna was Mexican Mafia, the affidavit shows.

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La Eme in Texas conducts itself much like the original Mexican Mafia spawned Balenciaga 21 Silver City

"San Antonio is kind of considered their capital," Denner said. Local smugglers and drug peddlers pay a "dime," or 10 percent of their profits, up through the chain for the right to sell in any particular region, she said.

Court records indicate that the victim in the April 2 Harlingen stabbing knew at least one of his attackers. According to the arrest warrant affidavit for Israel Banda and Abraham Serna, the victim identified Bobby Leal, one of the attackers, as his "friend."

It is often tough for law enforcement to gauge Mexican Mafia activity, local law enforcement and experts said, because most crimes are unreported.

The gang, one of the largest in Texas, is widely known for its hand in drug trafficking and heinous crimes committed around the state, gang experts and local law enforcement said. Over the past two decades, the Mexican Mafia in Texas has grown into an organized, far reaching criminal enterprise, active both in the state's prison system and on the streets.

"Many are based off Mexican culture and Aztec symbols . They use the symbol of the two headed serpent, they use the Mexican eagle," Cortez said.

Flores said police are still looking for the fourth suspect in the stabbing, who, according to court records, goes by either "Smiley" or "Hometown."

"Every item in the tattoo means something to them," said Cortez, the Cameron County gang investigator. As with so many other gangs, studying tattoos is one of the most effective ways to identify a Mexican Mafia member, he said.

Mexican Mafia members in the Valley are also known to work with the Mexican drug cartels, local experts said.

Miles Hutchinson, a supervisory senior resident agent for the FBI in Brownsville, noted that while numbers of confirmed Mexican Mafia members in the Valley aren't remarkably large, their reach in the Valley is troubling. Hutchinson estimated that between Brownsville and McAllen, there are anywhere between 50 and 100 Mexican Mafia members.

"They generally control the street gangs; they use the street gangs for their activities," said Dionicio Cortez, a gang investigator for the jail division at the Cameron County Sheriff's Department. "If a street gang member is, for example, selling in an area, they collect on that and control it," he said.

"They're basically the same: they promote extortion, murder for hire, prostitution, and things like Guess Suave Quilted Crossbody Flap Bag

Still, their connection to local street gangs is alarming, Hutchinson explained.

Flores, HPD's gang intelligence officer, said, "Much of what they do is criminal on criminal Often they're violent amongst themselves."

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The Mexican Mafia in Texas functions separately from the original Mexican Mafia, which sprang from the California prison system in the 1960s. Maryanne Denner, a gang expert and former gang sergeant with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, explained that Heriberto "Herbie" Huerta started the Texas offshoot in the mid 1980s, after which the gang spread throughout the state, both on the streets and in the prison system.

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The tattoos Mexican Mafia members sport, Flores and other gang experts said, are often intricate, ornate and rich with cultural significance.

Although Harlingen police keep a close eye on Mexican Mafia activity in and around the city, both cases last month were alarming because they broke through the surface, the violent nature of each attracting the attention of local law enforcement, Harlingen police Sgt. Stephen Mayer said.

that," Denner said.

"What's dangerous is the violent crime associated with them the kidnappings, the home invasions, all of that," Hutchinson said. "They'll co opt and recruit these young street gang members They'll try to insulate themselves with young impressionable kids to do their dirty work," he said.

Further investigation confirmed Bobby Leal and Israel Banda were both Mexican Mafia, the affidavit states.

It is generally accepted that San Antonio is the hub for the Mexican Mafia in Texas.

´╗┐Mexican Mafia attacks taking place in Valley towns

What has concerned local police is both the violent nature of these two incidents and that the crimes appear to be connected to one of the largest and most violent gangs in Texas.

Court records and interviews with local enforcement show that the participants in both attacks were members the Mexican Mafia.

The gang, Hutchinson explained, is known to be involved in drugs and weapons smuggling, drug rip offs and money rip offs throughout the Valley.

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Mayer, the head of the Harlingen Police Department's Gang Eradication Unit, remarked that itis highly Balenciaga Town Bag Rose Gold

Flores said that the victim in the April 2 stabbing was also a Mexican Mafia member, adding, "He had tattoos that visibly connected him to La Eme."

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"This is very uncommon here," Mayer said. "We are looking into the situation and attempting to gather intel We have identified a spike here and we're investigating it."

"'La Eme' " the gang's well known moniker "is a huge organization across the state Bottega Veneta Medium Intrecciato Convertible Tote now," Denner said bluntly.

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from the California penal system.

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