NEW: S.A. drug dealer sentenced to 54 months
Web Posted: 05/18/2005 04:24 PM CDT ... 09ee2.html

Guillermo Contreras
Express-News Staff Writer

A San Antonio drug dealer who said he was extorted by members of the Texas Mexican Mafia trying to collect a street tax was sentenced Wednesday to 54 months in prison.

Leroy Barron faced about a dozen years for his guilty plea admitting involvement in cocaine smuggling, but got the reduced sentence partly for testifying for the government in the trial in April of four members of the Mexican Mafia.
U.S. District Judge W. Royal Furgeson admonished Barron – a two-time convicted drug dealer - that if he gets convicted for a third drug offense, he'll be a "career criminal" and would be looking at 20 to 30 years in prison.

At the trial, Barron testified that gang general Jimmy "Panson" Zavala and his fellow gang members paid him a visit to try to collect tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid "taxes." Prosecutors argued that the Mexican Mafia controlled the drug trade and made money by imposing a 10-percent tax, also known as "the dime," on drug dealers. Those who did not pay up were often robbed or met other violent ends, according to other trial testimony.

Zavala, 35; Johnny "Gira" Garcia-Esparza, 45; Juan Victor "Smiley" Valles, 37, and Sammy "Spiderman" Garcia, 30, were convicted of participating in the mafia's drug-trafficking conspiracy and other charges. They will be sentenced July 28.