Saturday, September 13, 2003

We were never fans of the BERETTA 92 chambered for the 9 mm that's standard issue of the LAPD. So we have to applaud CHIEF BRATTON's decision to switch to the GLOCK chambered in .40 S&W. The S&W designation, by the way, stands for SMITH & WESSON, the legendary arms maker that developed the .40 caliber cartridge.

We want to give you some details and perspective you won't find in the mainstream papers. First of all, the 9 mm cartridge has a history of not doing the job. What we mean is that it's not a fight-stopper round. Stories of perpetrators being shot as many as 10, 15 and in one case 26 times with no visible effect are legendary. The next time you read a story where cops shoot an armed suspect 10 times, don't start jumping to conclusions. Cops are trained to shoot until a suspect either goes down or visibly gives up the fight in some way. The 9 mm round does not put people down right quick. So cops are "forced" to shoot perps multiple times because the round they've been issued is pathetically limp-wristed. Remember that next time you read about a shooting in the LA TIMES.

The nine was supposed to be the kinder, gentler round that turned out to be the less kind and less gentle round because a cop now has to shoot a suspect numerous times before the fight is taken out of him. Which is why some people call the 9 mm the POODLE SHOOTER. It's okay against a small dog, lousy against a full grown man. Especially if that man is big, mean and amped up on narcotics.

Okay, so, based on this spotty history, a lot of departments across the country, as well as the FBI and other FEDERAL agencies, dropped the nine and went looking for a stouter round - something that would get the immediate attention of an armed perp without having to fill the perp full of holes and lead.

The answer has always been there in the form of the .45 ACP (ACP stands for AUTOMATIC COLT PISTOL). This was the round developed for the legendary COLT AUTOMATIC PISTOL way back in 1911 by the famous gun designer JOHN BROWNING. And the reason the round and the gun were developed was that the US ARMY made an emergency request for a handgun that would stop a charging man in his tracks. You see, the ARMY was having this problem in the PHILIPINES with MUSLIM EXTREMISTS (sound familiar?). The MUSLIMS' favorite tactic was the human wave assault. And the .38 revolver which was the standard issue weapon of the grunts, was just not up to the job of stopping a charging man. Especially one amped up on CANNABIS and other stimulants as they often were. A US soldier would empty his revolver into an attacker and would still end up speared through the gut.

The .45 ACP proved to be an excellent manstopper -- in the PHILIPINES and everywhere else. And it remained in the US ARMY arsenal until the kindler, gentler 1980s when it was replaced by, you guessed it, the BERETTA 9 mm. The US ARMY designation for it is the M9, but it's almost identical to the LAPD BERETTA 92FS and the BERETTA 92S civilians can buy over the counter.

While ideal in many ways, the problem with the .45 ACP is that in the new world order of female cops and small-statured cops (the height requirement is so low these days, midgets can qualify) many police recruits just can't handle the recoil of a .45 ACP. Plus they have little tiny delicate hands and not a lot of upper body strength which is required to to a quick rack/tap/bang malfunction clearance. And if you have a double feed, or a stovepipe, and you've got an 18 or 20 lb. recoil spring to overcome, you really need that arm strength. (SEE, we told you you'd never get this kind of info from the local rags).

You're still wiith us, right?

Okay. So the situation was this: 9 mm too weak, .45 ACP too strong. But as GOLDILOCKS found out, "This one is JUST RIGHT." The just right in this case is the .40 S&W round. More powerful than a 9 mm. But not as mule-kicking as a .45 ACP. And the ballistics nearly the equal of the .45. What more could a department ask for? Good sectional density. Decent velocity so you'll get good expansion from a hollowpoint. Good penetration but not too much so you don't get the shoot-throughs that the old FBI hyper-fast 10 mm round had. And good kinetic energy transfer when coupled with a good petal design. This is the force, measured in foot/pounds that is delivered to the body of the target from the impact of the bullet.

The only problem left was to find a decent platform for the .40 S&W. You see, the other problem with the BERETTA is that it's a BIG gun. It's considered a large frame and that first double-action trigger pull is a bear for small-handed, short-fingered people. The trigger pull is roughly around 10 to 11 pounds of effort. We've seen some cops who need to put their left index finger on top of their trigger finger just to overcome the trigger effort. HOW EMBARASSING!

Enter the GLOCK. As even gun amateurs know, the GLOCK is a synthetic framed gun. And no, it's not invisible to X-rays. It has steel parts in the frame and a steel slide and barrell. It's light, EXTREMELY reliable, inexpensive to buy, cheap to maintain and it's small enough so that even little coppers can handle it without a booster trigger finger. And even though it has a double-action only trigger system, the trigger pull is only about half that of the BERETTA first trigger pull. So even the females and girlie men in the department can pull the trigger without asking for a spotter.

The GLOCK in .40 S&W is in many ways, the ideal gun/cartridge for the modern "diverse" police department. So to CHIEF BRATTON -- good call, homes. Cops are better protected, perps won't need to be shot as many times (we hope) and the public is better served. While we personally will never get used to the trigger feel of the GLOCK, we've seen good shooters do just amazing things with it. Personally, In The Hat has always been a huge fan of the 1911 pattern (popularly knowns as the .45 AUTO or the GOVERNMENT MODEL). It's what we would pick to have on our hip in a gun fight.

Oh, just in case you were wondering, LAPD SWAT will stick with their .45 ACP round, thank you. They're manly men and they can master the one, true and undisputed king of combat handgun cartridges -- the .45 ACP.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Last week we told you that we met CHEECH AGUIRRE, uncle to ALEX and RICHIE and brother to RICHARD AGUIRRE. And we told you that CHEECH was in a wheelchair due to the fact that he was missing his left leg because he told us it got blown off by a shotgun blast. Well, we were talking to a NORTHEAST COPPER this afternoon and this cop says that CHEECH lost his leg due to complications from DIABETES. The cop says that CHEECH tells everybody it was blown off by a gauge. Okay. We were suckered. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. But CHEECH did show us a whole gang of scarred-over pellet and stab wounds on his lower back and butt. And they looked pretty genuine. So CHEECH, your secret's out you big bad wheelchair spinning homie. Watch your back and for god's sake stay outta the sugary snacks.
We were going through an old AVENUES case the other night and came across a homicide that should scare anybody who buys illegal drugs, even from people you know or think you know. Of course, no In The Hat reader would ever dream of buying or selling narcotics. Right?

The story goes like this. On MAY 23, 1998, three FILIPINOS went to 5642 ALDAMA to buy coke and/or meth from EUGENIO COVARRUBIAS and/or RHONDA COVARRUBIAS his wife. When the FILIPINOS got to the back door of the location, they were met by three Hispanics. One of the Hispanics pulled a gun. The three "CHINAS" (that's what Latino gangsters call FILIPINOS) ran for it. But one of the Hispanics, 15-year-old ROBERT GONZALEZ, started blasting and killed CESAR TOLENTINO.

It seems that RHONDA, the dealer, had inadvertently tipped off her homeboy (deleted) that the three CHINAS were coming over to buy some big quantity and they’d have lots of money. (Deleted) had also found out that the CHINAS were never strapped so they'd be an easy take down.

So RAMIREZ rounded up some homeboys (ROBERT GONZALEZ and CUBAN MANNY LOPEZ) and decided to jack up the CHINAS. The deal went totally sideways when the CHINAS fought back with their fists. A boxing match ensued but GONZALEZ couldn’t hold his water and started shooting.

To make a long story short, LOPEZ, (deleted) and GONZALEZ copped a plea to voluntary manslaughter right in the middle of their jury trial. It wasn't going well for them and the lawyers figured that they should get out while they could before the jury returned with a guilty verdict and the inevitable death sentence. This was, after all, a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE case in which a murder was committed in the course of a robbery. And that gets you the cyanide pill.

As a result of the plea, they were each sentenced to 11 years. RHONDA was sentenced to time served and 5 years probation. CESAR is still dead, however. To us, 11 years doesn’t seem like a lot of time for a murder committed during a robbery. But since the actual shooter was 15, there was no death penalty available for him. We guess you can get away with murder.

At the time of the murder (deleted) was 19 and already had 4 kids. LOPEZ was 28 and he also had four children. You have to wonder what sort of citizens those unfortunate and innocent children will grow into. The tragedy is that some time in the future, In The Hat will sadly probably be writing about them.

Here's the cautionary tale part of the story. One of the CHINAS, HANSON ADAMS, was a friend of EUGENIO COVARRUBIAS and they occasionally did drug deals together. For instance, ADAMS used to come to EUGENIO'S house and cook up meth and then go halves on the profits. ADAMS also knew (deleted), GONZALEZ and CUBAN MANNY LOPEZ because LOPEZ would occasionally live in the COVARRUBIAS house. So the moral of the story is, DON'T TRUST ANYBODY. Even the guy standing next to you cooking up the meth. Especially the guy standing next to you cooking up the meth.

Here's one for CELESTE FREMON. According to the FREMON "rules of the street" ADAMS and TOLENTINO were not supposed to be set up and jacked up by their "friends." CELESTE, do us a favor and get a POST-IT note and paste it to your SMITH-CORONA, IMAC, or clay tablet or whatever you use. Write on it, THERE ARE NO RULES ON THE STREET. Got that? See you in the BARRIO, babe.

But here's the ultimate in irony. GONZALEZ was allowed to finish getting his GED before being sentenced to his 11 years by judge LANCE ITO (yeah that one). Also, GONZALEZ' lawyer asked that some letters be inserted into GONZALEZ file. One was from a drama teacher who said that GONZALEZ applied himself diligently to learning his lines and being on time for a YOUTH AUTHORITY production of HAMLET. And there was another letter in the file from GONZALEZ meditation teacher who said that the convicted killer (my characterization) was getting in touch with his feelings etc. So, the other moral is, kill a guy in a drug deal and get free drama and meditation lessons. Welcome to the oppressively harsh system of American justice. Gee, you think murderers get meditation and drama classes in say, the People's Paradise of Cuba? Just asking.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Late last week RICHARD AGUIRRE, patriarch of the AGUIRRE clan was sentenced to 270 days in COUNTY on a low level drug beef. We mentioned earlier that he didn't look his usual self -- tough, strong and confident. We're trying to wangle an interview but we're not holding out much hope. The DA in this case was DAVID GELFOUND. Private DEFENSE COUNSEL was LETTICIA AGUIRRE (no relation). The judge was MAUREEN DUFFY-LEWIS.
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.