By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The FBI arrested a 36-year-old San Antonio man on Wednesday accused of being a mob hit man who is suspected in at least three murders and believed to have given the order to have a Texas police officer killed, the FBI said.
Ruben Reyes is accused of fatally shooting three high-ranking members of his own Texas Mexican Mafia on the same day earlier this year, according to an affidavit by an FBI agent working on the case.
"They were ordered killed for their alleged mishandling of $60,000 and making poor decisions in regards to the group's daily operations," said the FBI affidavit, released by federal authorities as Reyes made his initial court appearance.
The affidavit described Reyes, who could face life in prison if convicted on federal racketeering charges, as a "Lieutenant of Lieutenants" in the Mexican Mafia, a violent prison-based gang.
Investigators say Reyes is also believed to have ordered the murder of Julian Pesina, a police officer in the San Antonio suburb of Balcones Heights who was shot to death in May as he left a tattoo parlor.
Authorities said that on Jan. 13, 2014, Reyes and another man, who was not identified, dug a large grave in rural Frio County, 30 miles southwest of San Antonio, and Reyes proceeded to kill three men and haul their bodies to the grave.
Reyes told one of the three men they were going to collect a debt and ordered him to sit in the back seat. On the way, Reyes ordered the unidentified driver to pull over to the curb, turned around, and shot the man several times.
Police say Reyes turned himself in to a San Antonio detective this month after he was the target of an alleged hit at his home. Four men opened fire when Reyes opened the door, wounding him and a bystander.
An investigator said Reyes was also being investigated in connection with several other gang homicides.
The Texas Mexican Mafia, also known as La Mexikanemi, was founded in the Texas prison system in the 1980s. Police say it is involved in a range of illegal activities, including drug dealing and loan sharking, as well as collecting a portion of the proceeds from criminal operations in the low-income Latino neighborhoods controled by the gang.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)