Friday, June 17, 2005

Just when you thought that the FBI was too busy chasing terrorists in the US to worry about ORGANIZED CRIME, here they are taking out the legendary PETER "SANA" OJEDA and 23 of his alleged crimies.

On Wednesday, 300 coppers served 40 warrants after a 2-year investigation on Orange County soldiers and shot callers. Ojeda and the other 23 were charged under RICO statutes, making it the first Eme RICO prosecution in Orange County. But not the first in the state.

To us, this looks like the latest installment of an ongoing FBI campaign to rattle the Eme's and NF's cages and get shot callers off the streets. Students of history will recall that similar RICO prosecutions were initiated in NORCAL in OPERATION BLACK WIDOW against the NF. RICO prosecutions also resulted in three major EME trials in LA COUNTY, US vs. AGUIRRE, US vs. DETEVIS and US vs. MARTINEZ. The FBI never gave the LA County prosecutions a butch name. This one in Orange County was apparently called OPERATION NEMESIS.

Eme/NF watchers will also recall that all those cases were made possible by the testimony of confidential informants. OPERATION BLACK WIDOW's informant was ROBERT GRATTON. In the Aguirre case ERNIE "CHUCO" CASTRO wore a wire and rolled on his brothers. In the Detevis case, there was John Turscak who cooperated with LE. And Max Torvisco was the CI in the Martinez case. So you have wonder if there's a snitch in this case as well. There probably is. It's almost impossible to make big cases like this without a guy on the inside.

I know a little bit about SANA's history. But I know for a fact one or more of you readers out there know a lot more than I do. Let's hear about it. This bust is a significant event in Eme history. And now is the time to comment. In fact, I'll take any significant comment and put it up as a regular posting so everyone can read it without going to the comments section.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

After three incidents of violence at Jefferson High School, school supe. Roy Romer has replaced its principal, Norm Morrow. The new principal will be Juan Flecha who will move from his current position at Eagle Rock High School. Something about this smacks of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Despite what mayor-elect Antonio V. said about Morrow ("My sense, frankly, is that things are out of control," and "I don't get the sense that anyone was in charge.") my sense is that the problems facing Jeff High and other schools are beyond the capacity of a single individual to fix. Morrow was the sacrificial lamb, a head rolled out for public consumption to create the appearance that "something" was being done. Let's off the principal and maybe the problem will go away.

If only it was that easy.

In addition to changing the principal, JHS will also get 90 (count 'em ninety) surveillance cameras, three more school cops, a new coat of paint and graffiti removed from the campus. A new high school will also open its doors in July to handle 700 students from JHS.

The simple truth is, the fights didn't break out over the lack of fresh paint or overcrowding. The problems go deep into the neighborhoods and beyond. For example, the homicide of Cabrillo HS student DEMETRIUS "BEAR" WILLIAMS in Long Beach back in February had nothing to do with the school environment. Cabrillo is a brand new, $45 million school chock full of programs. It has the highest ratio of computers to students of any major urban school on the West Coast. It's got advanced programs for media, animation and computers, a pre-engineering magnet program, a college prep magnet program, and an academy of finance and information technology. So no one gets left behind, Cabrillo also has a "recovery" program for kids falling behind to help them catch up. Plus there's dance and music, drug and gang counseling, mentoring programs and gang diversion. The Greater Long Beach National Conference for Community and Justice supports an on-campus group called Jaguars United whose purpose is to promote interaction between racial groups. They sponsor events like movie nights, peace rallies and "fishbowl" lunches where students are encouraged to socialize with members of different racial groups. All this was in place way before Williams was killed. If ever there was fertile ground for peace and harmony, Cabrillo should have been it.

Despite all these good intentions, racial tensions persist at Cabrillo. At the end of the school day, black students walk on one side of the street and Latinos on the other. Blacks go to the MacDonald's. Hispanics go to a taco stand. Racial taunts are commonplace. If anything, Williams had taken racial diversity to heart. He fathered an out-of-wedlock child. His girlfriend is a Latina. Instead of bridging the racial divide, his relationship with a Latina, cops say, got some people on both sides bent the wrong way.

Williams also claimed WEST COAST CRIPS, self-admitted on an FI card. The two accused shooters, according to LBPD, are WEST SIDE LONGOS. And there we are back at the neighborhoods.

While JHS hasn't experienced a BEAR incident, it's abundantly clear that video cameras, some new paint and a new principal aren't going to solve its problems. Antonio V., Romer and city leaders should do a little more than change the window dressing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I've been hearing talk about this ever since ROBERT BLAKE's not guilty verdict and I frankly didn't put much stock in it. It seemed too easy an answer for a case that should have gone the other way. But now I've heard from enough people from all sides of the issue that there may be some truth to it.

Here's the story. During her closing arguments, DA SHELLIE SAMUELS used the word "bullshit." Not once. Not twice. But on five separate occasions. Samuels has a reputation for getting emotional in court. Which is fine. Righteous indignation and passion works when you're making an argument. What doesn't work, according to people who were really close to the investigation, is disrespect. Using "bullshit" five times was over the top, according to people I've spoken to, and turned off the jury. Jurors don't expect prosecutors to wrestle in the gutter. They're expecting class and decorum. Samuels gave them potty mouth.

Close observers also mentioned the famous Limousine Rapists case in Long Beach. The DA on that one was BOB FOLTZ. FOLTZ essentially alienated everybody by his disrespectful antics. He pretended to fall asleep during defense cross examination. He also made a big show of doing a crossword puzzle during defense arguments. He basicaly acted like an ass.

The result was not guilty verdicts on all 23 counts. Foltz hung himself like an old salami by the dopey theatrics.

I didn't follow the Blake case closely so I can't speak with confidence about the "bullshit" prosecution. But if anybody out there can expand on it, let's hear about it.