Saturday, July 03, 2004

Okay. I got rid of the time share condo/guard tower image and I think I like this better. It will stay this way at least through the 4th of July weekend. I'm running out of time. There are beers to drink and grilled meat to eat.
I'm trying to find some templates that will let me add a "COMMENTS" section to INTHEHAT. Well. I've now got a comment section but I don't like this look at all.

It will have to look like this for a while until I can figure out how to change it. That image to the left looks like either a prison guard tower or some dorky time share condo in Boca. Who picks this crap? Oh. It was me.

In the meantime. Feel free to vent and comment.
Jason Kandel of the DAILY NEWS is fast becoming INTHEHAT's favorite crime reporter. Last week he broke the story on the capture of the infamous drug poobah, "HENRY." Genaro Rodriguez, (Henry) was this mysterious operator who apparently ran a huge smuggling and distribution operation in SOCAL. In the past Rodriguez claimed SAN FER, probably the oldest gang in the Valley. The article states that HENRY's wife EYDI GUERRERO, was murdered execution style during a home invasion robbery and HENRY was shot in the face and left for dead. He survived. The killing is attributed to EME trigger pullers who made off with $400,000 in cash that HENRY had at the house. HENRY at first fingered the shooters, but then changed his mind and is now refusing to cooperate in the investigation of his wife's murder. My sense is, this is just the tip of an iceberg whose large, unseen base is probably rooted in the SHU in PELICAN BAY.

In today's DN, Kandel reports that homicides are up 48% in the Valley, outpacing a very small increase in the rest of the city. The article quotes Valley City Councilman Dennis Zine, a retired LAPD Sergeant: "The problem is, we've got these worthless gang thugs that terrorize neighborhoods. We've got a very small gang unit. There's too many thugs and not enough gang enforcement. They're outnumbered." Hey Dennis, tell us what you really think.

You have to wonder if the murder spike in the Valley is in any way connected to HENRY's roots in SAN FER and the infusion of cash and drugs that his operation was funneling into the Valley. Just an idle hypothesis with no evidence at this point.
Today's LA TIMES (7/3/04) reports that City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo just imposed another gang injunction. This time against 18th STREET and the ROLLIN' 60s. The purpose of this one is to prevent 18th STREET from recruiting new members. Godd luck on that one, Rocky. It's a dopey reason because recruitment doesn't happen on the street. The Times quotes their go-to guy, Father Greg Boyle. Boyle says this particular injunction is impossible to enforce and, "It's also not how people join gangs." They don't, "set up a recruitment table at high schools and an announcement goes out: '18th STREET is recruiting today.' " Boyle is absolutely right, of course. If the real purpose of the injunction is to stop recruitment, it's a non-starter. Recruitment happens in back yards and living rooms and it starts years before the kids become visible on the street as gangsters.

Boyle is on record as actually being in favor of injunctions. In the past he said that injunctions can work. In an LA WEEKLY piece he was quoted as saying that "The day after the injunction went into effect, my office was full of kids asking for a job." He described it as the "heat and light" approach. You apply the law enforcement heat and the kids see the light.

While the anti-recruitment aspect of this injunction may be dubious, the section that deals with preventing ROLLIN' 60s homies from driving together into enemy territory may have some value. I'll use the language of the activists on this one. "If it helps save the life of one child, then it's worth it." If it can stop one carload of knuckleheads from shooting up a street corner, let's put it out there and see what happens.

Of course, all injunctions can lead to police abuse. There probably isn't a single law in the penal code that can't be abused. The key to making injunctions work is to use them like a scalpel, not a hand grenade. And the way to wield that scalpel is with what the military calls "actionable intelligence." Street coppers have to know the names, affiliations, crimies, road dogs, drug connections, family connections and personal beefs of the shot callers and crew chiefs of the sets in their jurisdiction. It's a holistic approach that has to analyze every gang and set as a functional sub-culture. That sub-culture is closed and seemingly chaotic, of course and will resist analysis. But it can be teased apart and the pieces laid out for examination.

Despite the nasty rap CRASH got thanks to Rafael Perez and his crimies, the CRASH model can work. Unfortunately, thanks to the consent decree, SEU operators can't stay on that assignment longer than three years. Which means that by the time they get really good at the job, they're shipped out to other assignments. Which means there's no "corporate memory" and it's re-inventing the wheel every time a new copper joins the unit.

It's been my experience that solving gang murders, and in some cases preventing them, is a lot easier when the street cops and detectives know the sets, the players and the set politics as well as they know their own families. The really effective cops do.

One last thing. The LA TIMES piece states that 18th STREET has spread to Mexico and Central America. Just FYI, sets claiming 18th STREET are also in places like SALT LAKE CITY, BOSTON, VANCOUVER and TORONTO. Talk about imperialist hegemonic expansion.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

In what has to be a devastating blow to Fr. Greg Boyle's anti-gang work in East LA, one of Homeboy Industries' employees was shot and killed on June 24th while painting over graffiti in the 400 block of Breed Street. As far as I know, this was the first time one of HI's employees has been killed for doing his job. According to the LAPD, the victim, Miguel Gomez was killed at approximately 5:20 AM by several gunshots while Gomez was painting out BREED set graffiti. He was in the company of two other HI employees. Although there was only one shooter, he had two accomplices with him. If we know anything about the way trigger pullers operate, the shooter is probably far, far away right now. Maybe in Mexico. Maybe in the Inland Empire or the High Desert. The other thing we can infer is that more than a few people in that neighborhood already know who the shooter is. It’s all over the set. And the name of the shooter is probably already known to Hollenbeck SEU and homicide detectives. Of course, they're not saying. We'll know when they make the arrest or convince the accomplices to rat out the shooter and post a BOLO.

The way the law is written, you can be charged with murder even if you didn’t pull the trigger. All you had to do was be there. So if I were one of the crimies, I'd be hiding from the cops and the shooter. When you’ve got a murder case with special circumstances hanging over your head, the first one to cut a deal wins. Of course, we’re assuming here that the shooter was local. This may also have been greenlight, in which case, it could have been somebody from another neighborhood putting in work and earning a stripe. We’ll know in time.

Whatever the case, there ain’t a whole lot of pride in shooting a man armed with a paintbrush.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I'm just back from five days in the Midwest and once again I've got a lot of mail and reading to catch up on.

A reader wanted some information on the difference, if there was any, between the Eme-sponsored "truce" and the one that Stanley "Tookie" Williams tried to launch from jail. From what I can tell, were was a big difference. The Eme "truce" was a combination of new rules of engagement and a policy of structural organization. It was the move to vertically integrate the street gangs into the Eme.

Tookie's truce had no such stipulations. Whether he called for a truce out of genuine concern or just a cynical way to get out of his death sentence, the fact is, there were no strings attached. The Eme edict was, "Follow the new rules or we'll kill you." It's the way the Soviet Union maintained control in places like the Balkans. The Soviet edict was, "Stop killing each other, or we'll be happy to do it for you." Tookie's truce had no stick. It was all carrot. It was a straight up appeal to stop the killing.

Should he be believed? The simple truth is, Tookie did not have the power projection of the Eme. The Black Guerilla Family, the Black prison gang, doesn't have the organization, intelligence gathering and information channels of the Eme. They can't call shots from prison because they just don't have the structure. And even if the BGF had an Eme style org chart, I've never seen any proof that Williams is or was affiliated with BGF. So Tookie had no stick to beat the Bloods and Crips into an enforced truce. So in that sense, his appeal to stop the killing has to seen as a genuine appeal, his motives nothwithstanding.

There are other instances, however, most notably with the Gangster Disciples in Chicago, where black truces were nothing more than an Eme style power grab. More on that later.