The Raza Unida (RU) is a Latino prison gang that originated in 1988 in the southern Texas prison system. The founders of the gang were convicted felons from Corpus Christi and Dallas, Texas.
NOTE: This gang should not be confused with La Raza Unida Hispanic rights activist group.
Soon after the gang's inception, a conflict arose between the RUs and another prison gang called the Barrio Azteca. The Azteca’s murdered an RU member, claiming that the victim had once been a member of the Barrio Azteca. The claim turned out to be legitimate, so the Raza Unida did not retaliate. Following the Raza Unida’s primary years, the gang struggled to gain the respect from “The Big 3” – the Mexican Mafia, the Texas Syndicate, and the Barrio Azteca, the states larger and more established prison gangs. In 1992 the Mexikanemi instigated a brief war with the weaker Raza Unida. Three members of the Raza Unida were killed in an attack from the Mexican Mafia at the Coffield state prison. During the conflict with the Raza Unida and the more powerful Mexican Mafia, the Raza Unida had no choice but to join alliance with the Texas Syndicate. This meant that they gave the Texas Syndicate a quarter of Corpus Christi, which was officially Raza Unida drug-dealing territory. As a result, the Texas Syndicate protected the Raza Unida.
In 1994, the TS and the RUs wanted to take over the Brownsville, Texas drug route, which was being run by a rival prison gang, the HPL (Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos). After five years of war, they reached an agreement that all three gangs would share the drug trade in Brownsville by dividing the city into sections.
The Raza Unida began to multiply in 1995 after a murderous war erupted between the TS and the Barrio Azteca. The Raza Unida refused to get involved in this war or assist the Texas Syndicate. Instead the Raza Unida severed its alliance with the Texas Syndicate and declared complete independence. These infuriated members of the Texas Syndicate but the TS could not afford to retaliate against the RUs. While the Texas Syndicate was being consumed in warfare against their rival Barrio Azteca gang, the now independent Raza Unida was able to gain control of the prison drug trade.
Unfortunately, the Raza Unida’s newfound power did not last long. In July 1997, the Texas Syndicate regained power and control of the prison system drug trade. During these war years, it became known to the Texas Syndicate that the RUs were importing drugs from the Brownsville, TX and Matamoros, MX international port of entry and trafficking them to Dallas and Houston, which was predominantly Texas Syndicate territory. In late March 2002, RU members assault and kill a TS member at the Polunsky Unit, and lockdowns are ordered for all known or suspected TS and RU members and affiliates. A full scale gang war erupted between both gangs and violence erupted in units statewide as well as in cities such as Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. The Raza Unida suffered great losses and was on the verge of collapse when a conflict arose among ranking members of the Raza Unida. The RU’s Dallas and southern Texas members split into two factions after the two could not reach an agreement or a truce.
The majority faction is called RU Surenos, which make up members of the southern part of Texas, and the minority faction from Dallas which remains Raza Unida. The split caused a loss of morale for many of the organization’s original members, and several hundreds quit.
Symbols: RU, Eagle with both Mexican and American flags
Territory: Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas and small chapters across the United States.
In 1988, The Raza Unida (RU) is formed in the Texas state prison system. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
In 1992, the Mexikanemi instigated a brief war with the weaker Raza Unida. Three members of the Raza Unida were killed in an attack from the Mexican Mafia at the Coffield state prison. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
In 1994, the Texas Syndicate and the Raza Unida agree that the gangs would share the drug trade in Brownsville by dividing gang territory in the border town in sections. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
In 1997, the HPL declares war on the Raza Unida after RU members refuse to allow the HPL to recruit new members at a south Texas transfer facility. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
On August 10, 1998, Raza Unida members brutally murder fellow gang member Luis "Huicho" Luna in Corpus Christi, Texas for breaking gang rules. After murdering Luna, RU members reportedly burned a stolen car used to transport the body. Jesse "Trece" Casso ("Casso"), Jeremy Munguia ("Munguia"), Rudy "Rhino" Contreras ("Contreras") and Jason "Chino Boy" Luna ("Jason"), all members of the "Raza Unida" gang, are arrested and charged with Capital Murder. Hernandez v. State, 52 S.W.3d 268 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi, 2001) June 21, 2001
In 1999, the HPL and Raza Unida both settle a truce after 1 year of fighting. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
In May 1999, the Mexikanemi declares war on the Raza Unida over a conflict involving drugs in the streets of Corpus Christi, Texas. A member of the Raza Unida is brutally murdered at the Connally unit in Kenedy, Texas by Mexikanemi members. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
In August 1999, 21 members of the “Mexican Mafia” attacked six members of the Raza Unida at the Domingez state prison in San Antonio, Texas. (San Antonio Express News, August 11, 1999.)
In January 2000, both the Mexikanemi and Raza Unida settle on a truce after 1 year of war fare. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
In March 2002, Raza Unida members stab a Texas Syndicate member to death at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas. The murder involves a state wide war between both prison gangs. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
On November 12, 2002 Raza Unida members murder Jesus Gonzalez and John Commisky for refusing to pay the prison gang 10% of their cocaine profits. The killers, whose faces were covered with black ski masks, reportedly entered the home of the victims and gunned them down with AK-47 assault rifles. Padron v. State, No. 13-06-00464-CR (Tex. App. 8/14/2008) (Tex. App., 2008)
On January 2003, the Raza Unida declares war on the HPL over drug related conflicts. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
On November 24, 2003, HPL members brutally murder 6 year old Robert Conchola by shooting the child in the face. The victim’s father was a known member of the Raza Unida prison gang and involved in a drug dispute with the HPL. Loya v. State, No. 13-04-00537-CR (Tex. App. 7/6/2006) (Tex. App., 2006)
On December 6, 2003, Raza Unida members murder rival HPL member Michael Rodriguez on a desolate dirt road. Rodriguez had died from numerous gunshot wounds to the head, abdomen, and extremities. The murder involved a gang war between the Raza Unida and Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos. Salazar v. State, No. 13-06-00075-CR (Tex. App. 4/10/2008) (Tex. App., 2008)
On December 6, 2003, Raza Unida members murder rival HPL member Michael Rodriguez on a desolate dirt road. Rodriguez had died from numerous gunshot wounds to the head, abdomen, and extremities. The murder involved a gang war between the Raza Unida and Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos.Salazar v. State, No. 13-06-00075-CR (Tex. App. 4/10/2008) (Tex. App., 2008)
In 2004, The Raza Unida and Texas Syndicate settle on a truce.
In May 2005, The Raza Unida and HPL settle on a peace treaty. (TDCJ Security Threat Group Archives)
On August 23, 2006, Raza Unida members murder Paul Dembowski in Corpus Christi, Texas over a conflict involving a drug deal. (Simpson v. State, No. 13-07-00489-CR (Tex. App. 8/21/2008) (Tex. App., 2008)
On September 19, 2006, 6 Raza Unida members use shanks to over power guards and escapes from the East Hidalgo Detention Center, La Villa, Texas. (Houston Chronicle)