Life of crime: Former gang-members preach there TMs a better way

With age comes wisdom, something former gang members Tino Meza and Freddy Sanchez had to learn the hard way.

I was involved in gangs, drugs and violence, Meza said. I didn TMt care who got hurt.

About six years ago, Meza was facing up to life in prison for a capital murder charge he picked up when he was gang banging.

With no hope of ever seeing the outside world as a free man he turned to God.

As soon as I said that little prayer, ~God, if it TMs true that you exist set me free, the doors of the prison were opened and I was freed, Meza said.

He changed his ways and formed a group called Pistoleros de Cristo which has a simple message to young gang members in the Rio Grande Valley: ~there TMs a better life to live. TM

Their message has never been more relevant.

A member of the Tri-City Bombers, a South Texas gang, is set to die tonight in Huntsville.

He started at an early age like many young kids out here do, Sanchez said.

Sanchez was in the same gang as Robert Garza who is known as Bones.

Garza was put on death row in 2002 for his participation in a gang ambush that killed four women in Donna.

At just 30 years old, he will leave behind a wife and a child.

I tell you, it TMs sad to see him there just like that just like it TMs sad for the victims, Sanchez said.

According to Sanchez, Garza gave his life to Christ as he counted down the days till he was to be executed.

Right now there are 16 people from South Texas, including Garza who are sitting on death row.

That TMs why the group believes their message is so important.

They TMre (gang members) looking for love in all the wrong places, Sanchez said. With the gangs there is nothing but hurt and pain.

But changing the minds of young gang members is an uphill battle.

Being good isn TMt popular, a reason the group utilizes rap to reach teens.

They say it may be too late to save Garza TMs life, but they will fight each day to save the lives of young gang members in the Valley.

The Pistoleros de Cristo host several gang awareness events throughout the Valley.

They performed at the Mercedes Civic Center tonight.