Spring Break Gone Wrong (Part 2) Texas Mexican Mafia Members Arrested
Wed, 09 May 2012 04:08:41 GMT —
Nearly two months have gone by since Derek Madrigal was attacked while on Spring Break on South Padre Island.
He and his family are now miles away, back home in Dallas.
There Derek has been focusing on his recovery, getting love and attention from his family, and regaining strength to get back to his normal routine " and he TMs doing it with renewed optimism.
"I have a different outlook on life, I could've died - that could've been my life, Derek said. I TMm going to enjoy life even more now that I still do have my life - I survived!
He said when he TMs fully recovered, the first thing he wants to do is hit the gym. However, the dedicated athlete, will need give his wounds time to heal.
Meanwhile, authorities on South Padre Island are wasting none on seeking justice in this case.
SPI Chief of Police Randy Smith tells Action 4 News the Island may be a tourist town, but not one where you can commit a crime and get away with it.
"You can be anywhere in Texas, and you can be kind of in the underground world, but if you come to South Padre, Smith said, and your mission is to commit criminal activity and cause havoc and harm, we're going to do whatever we can to seek you out."
Smith said it took police just hours to make an arrest in the case.
The same night of the attack, police took 33-year-old Michael Rangel of San Antonio, into custody.
Smith said Rangel even helped investigators find him.
"He had an injury to the hand with some sort of blade like a knife, Smith said. I think he probably thought he had made it under the radar, and it was safe to seek medical treatment and depart."
However, police had other plans for Rangel.
Smith said plenty of eyewitnesses on the beach singled him out as one of Derek TMs attackers.
Rangel was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was first given a $20,000 bond, that was later upgraded to $100,000.
But police weren't done after his arrest.
Videos that captured the attack, shows more than one person attacking Derek.
Smith said investigators studied several videos for hours and it paid off when they led investigators to 9 other suspects linked to the attack.
Derek said he also hasn TMt been able to stop looking at that video.
"I TMve seen it probably about 20 times, Derek said. I still kind of watch it every once in a while. It's kind of still hard to believe that happened to me."
Smith said the nine men arrested turned out to be way more than just vacationers.
"There's one common denominator amongst them all, Smith said, and that is the fact that they all belong to a Texas prison-based group."
The alleged Texas Mexican Mafia members arrested in this case include: general, 35-year-old Eric John Gomez; 26-year-old leader Carlos Saenz III; soldier 30-year-old Alfredo Valdez, soldier 30-year-old Jaime Matos; soldier 28-year-old Emilio Ruvalcaba; soldier 27-year-old Omar Guerrero; associate 30-year-old Gilbert Balderas, associate 27-year-old Thomas Wayne Garza and associate 21-year-old Michael Villarreal.
Derek's parents said they were shocked to find out their youngest son was a victim of alleged organized crime, and in the least likely of situations.
"It's been real hard to deal with the way it's happened, because it's not the way it's supposed to be in America, Frank Madrigal, Derek TMs father, said. I think we have more respect for human life, for mankind, for each other, than to make a statement about attacking our youth, our liberties (and) attacking our freedom."
Derek's mother, Marka, said she's just baffled on why the alleged gang would attack her son, but she has some speculations.
"(One of them is young), I think that (it was) probably initiation -I don TMt know, I don't know, Derek TMs mother said. It TMs just hard to believe that anyone would try to hurt someone like this."
Smith is did not confirm this theory, but he didn TMt' deny the possibility."It wouldn't surprise me to find out later that it truly was an initiation or some type of validation."
Initiation or not, the attack was so vicious that it paralyzed the large crowds around Derek, as they stood by watching as multiple blows and coolers came crashing down on Derek TMs head - except two young men.
One of them can be briefly seen on the video that shows the attack, wearing a red shirt. The other young man is seen pulling Derek away from the attackers.
The Madrigal family identifies them only as Fabian and Diego, also from the Dallas area.
In a possibly life saving move, the two young men were able to somehow pull Derek TMs limp body from the mob, and carry him to emergency responders
"Those two gentlemen can be defined as heroes to my wife and I and to our family, Derek TMs father said. We essentially have two more sons."
Smith said police are still trying to track down a handful of suspects.
Recently SPI police released the name of one of those still on the run. That suspect was identified as 30-year-old Felix Velasquez, Jr. and he TMs on the Top 10 Texas Most Wanted list.
Velasquez is described as 5 TM9, about 220 lbs and has several tattoos on his body. The word "Felix" is tattooed on his abdomen, a baby's face on his left leg, a devil TMs face on his upper left arm, and a dragon on his upper right arm.
There is up to a $7,500 reward for information leading to his capture.
Smith said Velasquez may be one of the most dangerous men in Texas, but he can only run for so long before authorities catch up.
"Our mission is to apprehend them and bring them to justice, Smith said. But in the meantime, if we can TMt apprehend them, we're going to make their lives miserable until we do."
Pushing for a higher charge initially, the Madrigal family is now satisfied with the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges that Derek TMs alleged attackers currently face.
Smith said both charges carry the same allowed punishment - a fine plus anywhere from two to 99 years in prison.
The Madrigal family said they just want the charges to translate to convictions.
"We're a country of laws and I think that the literal interpretation of those laws, will help bring justice and it certainly should be to the highest penalty," Derek TMs father said.
"Hopefully (his alleged attackers) have time to think about it, Blake Madrigal said, you know, learn to accept God into their life and realize that this isn't the right thing to do. But I mean, we can all just hope."
Derek said he's kept up with authorities but adds he's mostly focused on his recovery and life back home. And even though they nearly killed him, Derek has a positive message for his alleged attackers.
"There's more to life. You don TMt need drugs, you don TMt need violence, you don TMt need all the bad influence in your life, Derek said. You don TMt have to be in a gang to have friends. I TMve had people that have wanted to step-up for me, and I barely even knew (them). We have people that actually really do care about you - you don TMt have to be in a gang."
Derek has not only kept a positive attitude throughout this ordeal, he TMs also a refreshing reminder that chivalry and humility still exist.
"I believe that I did what was right - I don't know if I TMm a hero, Derek said humbly. I believe that I helped a girl when she was in need, but I don't know if I'm a hero."