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Alleged Texas prison gang members on trial

Jan. 20, 2004 at 6:07 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Three alleged members of the Texas Syndicate prison gang went on trial Tuesday in Austin.

Curtains were drawn in the federal courtroom as more than a dozen U.S. marshals stood watch for jury selection in the trial, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The Texas Syndicate recruits inmates in state prisons and the gang members continue to operate outside the walls after their release, carrying out murder, robbery and drug dealing, according to the indictment.

Ernesto Zubiate, 26, Jose Rivera, 42, and Michael Sanchez, 36, are facing charges of racketeering and drug dealing conspiracy, the American-Statesman report. If convicted, the three face possible life prison terms.

Sixteen other alleged gang members agreed to plea bargains before the trial.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks imposed a gag order on attorneys in the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks.

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