Carlos Caro was sentenced to death by the Federal Government for the murder of a fellow inmate at a Federal Institute in Virginia. According to court documents Carlos Caro was a member of the Texas Syndicate prison gang and guards would find his cellmate dead in his cell with a towel tied around his throat. Carlos Caro was the only other person in the cell. Carlos Caro is still on Federal Death Row as of 2021
Carlos Caro 2021 Information
|Register Number: 37786-079|
|Located at: Terre Haute USP|
|Release Date: DEATH SENT|
Carlos Caro More News
At about 6:40 p.m. on December 17, 2003, a prison guard discovered inmate Roberto Sandoval strangled to death inside his cell in the Special Housing Unit (the “SHU”) at United States Penitentiary Lee (“USP Lee”) in Jonesville, Virginia. He lay dead with a towel knotted around his neck. His cellmate Caro had been the only other person inside the locked cell. Caro later explained, “[Sandoval] called me mother fucker, that whore, that’s why I fucked him up.” J.A. 781.
Caro comes from a poor neighborhood in Falfurrias, Texas, where he lived with his siblings and an abusive, alcoholic father. While still young, Caro began helping his uncles transport illegal drugs into the United States. He was later convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in April 1988, conspiracy to possess over one hundred kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute in January 1994, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in November 2001.1 Following his third conviction, Caro was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment.
In prison, Caro became a leader in the Texas Syndicate, a violent prison gang. In that role, Caro was involved in two violent incidents prior to Sandoval’s murder. In the summer of 2002 at Federal Correctional Institute Oakdale (“FCI Oakdale”), a prison official asked Caro to maintain the peace because members of another gang were scheduled to arrive. Caro responded that “the Texas Syndicate were going to do what they had to do.” J.A. 908. Soon after, Caro and fellow Texas Syndicate members violently attacked the new arrivals. Taking responsibility, Caro commented: “I don’t give a fuck if they send me to the United States Penitentiary. My brothers follow orders. They know what they’re getting into. It doesn’t even matter if we’re prosecuted. I have 30 years to do. I certainly don’t care about myself.” J.A. 911.
Following the FCI Oakdale incident, the Bureau of Prisons (the “BOP”) transferred Caro to USP Lee, a more secure facility. There, in August 2003, Caro and another inmate violently attacked fellow Texas Syndicate member Ricardo Benavidez. Using “shanks,” i.e., homemade knives, they stabbed Benavidez twenty-nine times. Five other Texas Syndicate members stood nearby with identical shanks.2 In November 2003, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit homicide, Caro was sentenced to another twenty-seven years imprisonment. He was then transferred to the SHU at USP Lee.
Sandoval’s murder occurred only weeks later. Sandoval was placed in Caro’s cell at around 9:00 p.m. on December 16, 2003. The next day, Sandoval and Caro were served breakfast in their cell at 6:10 a.m. They later took one hour of recreation outside and were last observed by prison staff at 6:17 p.m.3 Soon after, inmate Sean Bullock, whose cell faced Caro’s, noticed Caro standing behind Sandoval and apparently choking him. Bullock watched them fall to the ground and assumed they were tussling. At about 6:40 p.m., a prison guard came to deliver mail. Caro yelled to him several times, “Come get this piece of shit out of here,” and pointed at Sandoval lying by the door. J.A. 676. Peering inside the cell, the guard observed Sandoval lying motionless with blood on him and a towel knotted around his neck. Blood was also splattered against the wall.
Other guards quickly arrived and handcuffed Caro. When asked whether Sandoval was still breathing, Caro responded: “No. At this time he’s stinking up the room, get him out.” J.A. 684. Caro later received Miranda warnings and was interviewed. He denied that Sandoval’s murder had any connection to the Texas Syndicate. Instead, Caro explained that he had eaten Sandoval’s breakfast that morning; that Sandoval had awakened, cursed him, and threatened to eat Caro’s breakfast the next morning; and that Caro, using a towel tied with one overhand knot, had later strangled Sandoval for four or five minutes until he stopped breathing.
The next day Caro taunted a prison guard, grinning and calling out, “When [are] you ․ going [to] assign [me] a new cellie?” J.A. 601. Several days later, again grinning, Caro requested fellow inmate Ortiz for his next “cellie.” J.A. 680.
Caro later mentioned Sandoval in two telephone conversations and a letter. The letter stated, “I killed a guy two weeks ago ․ [f]or being a fool.” J.A. 790. Caro told his wife, laughing, “[Sandoval] called me a mother fucker.” J.A. 782. Caro also assured her, “But I’m all right.” J.A. 783. Finally, Caro told another Texas Syndicate member Roel Rivas, “I also have a death,” and explained, “It’s because they gave me a cell mate and he disrespected me, so I took him down.” J.A. 785. When Rivas proposed claiming self-defense, Caro said, “That is what I’m going to do․ That is what I’m going for.” J.A. 786-87.