Wednesday, September 10, 2003

In what’s by now a familiar pattern for CELESTE FREMON, freelancer for the LA WEEKLY, she’s created another pious tract about a good kid gone bad and then tries to go good again and then ends up killing somebody. The subject this time is ROBERT LEON, who went by the name of CRAZY ACE or LOCO. According to her, he had climbed up the gang ladder and became a shot caller at the age of 17. He was with TMC (THE MOB CREW) a BOYLE HEIGHTS gang. We don’t have links to her piece but if you log on to LATIMES.COM and do a search under her name, you’ll be directed to it.

After spending 4.5 years in prison, he gets out and tries to go straight, eventually working his way to a camera assistant job with some well-known film land DPs. And then he loses his job, has a fight with his girlfriend and ends up killing a guy in barfight. Surely that happens to a lot of temporarily unemployed film people. He’s in county right now awaiting trial.

FREMON ran a similar I-tried-to-get-out-but-they-kept-pulling-me-back-in piece some time ago in the WEEKLY. The subject of that piece was LEON’s boyhood pal, another TMC gangster by the name of ROMAN GONZALEZ. Unlike LEON, GONZALEZ was shot and killed by unknown gang rivals. She stated at that time, and again in the LA TIMES MAGAZINE piece, that "according to the rules of the street," rival gangsters should have given ROMAN a pass due to his dropout status. Maybe those are the rules on SESAME STREET, but not the BARRIO streets. In FREMON’s world, gangs are supposed to abide by the GENEVA CONVENTION regarding non-combatants. According to the rules of the street as we know them, however, there’s no time outs or do-overs in the BARRIO. ROMAN had it coming because he had shot up and pissed off a whole lot of people. A little get-even was just a matter of time. Where she comes up with her weird "rules of the street" nonsense is beyond us. Nobody has ever heard of such a thing.

Here’s a little background on TMC. First off, they’re about 150 soldiers deep. That’s fairly small by Boyle Heights standards. And TMC is completely surrounded by enemies. On one side there’s PRIMERA FLATS. And on the other, there’s CUATRO FLATS. The two FLATS are allies. And they’re both rivals of TMC. The reason TMC has survived more than 20 years as the meat in a FLATS sandwich is because TMC can hold their own in a shooting war. They have a lot of active shooters and LEON and GONZALEZ were front line shock troops. In fact, GONZALEZ went by TRIGGER, an indication that he liked guns. It's not because he was a fan of Roy Roger’s horse. Thanks to their history of aggression and being always strapped, LEON and GONZALEZ are both bullet magnets. The fact that FREMON is surprised that GONZALEZ was assassinated indicates that she just doesn’t get the gangster mentality.

Like every other gang piece that she’s written, this story comes out of FATHER GREGORY BOYLE’S ministry. We have to wonder if FREMON will ever write a gang piece without ever mentioning FATHER BOYLE once. It seems to us, the sum total of her gang experience and knowledge comes from what BOYLE tells her. Her assertions, like those of BOYLE, are rather baffling. For instance, parroting BOYLE, she’s said in the past that RICO prosecutions don’t work because street gangs are unorganized. Well, yeah, they may not have the org chart of FEDEX or even ENRON, but they’re not the freewheeling goofballs BOYLE and FREMON would have us believe. Here’s a for instance. When PANCHO VILLA, head of the COLUMBIA LIL CYCOS (ECHO PARK gang) was prosecuted, his wife was arrested with $420,000 in cash and something like 10 kilos of cocaine. Collecting that kind of money and distributing that amount of drugs requires a sizable and well-functioning organization.

And when SHAKEY JOE HERNANDEZ from BOYLE HEIGHTS was running burn out phones for the MEXICAN MAFIA back in mid-90s, the FBI logged over 10,000 phone calls in a three month period from prisons throughout the state to just one of SHAKEY JOE’S numbers. That’s a lot of information going in and out of jail.

But facts never seem to stand in the way of FREMON’s pieces and her improbable assertions are clearly never challenged or examined by the editors at the TIMES. This reminds us of the TIMES piece that ran a few months ago about DONALD BIG D GARCIA. That piece made him out to be this gruff but lovable rascal who’s kinda scary but nice underneath. The writer failed to mention that BIG D was a made brother in the EME among other nefarious connections we won’t mention and responsible for other stuff we can't say. It’s obvious the people at the TIMES only scratch the surface, find out what they want to find out and leave the rest un-examined.

As to ROBERT LEON, we found out a few things that will punch some holes in his version of the shooting. Can’t say, of course, because the trial is pending. More on this as information becomes public.

We look forward to the day when FREMON will write a gang piece without mentioning FATHER BOYLE, JAME DIEGO VIGIL or some other ACADEMIC who has never been closer than cell phone range to a convicted killer.

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