Thursday, December 06, 2007

I've always been cautious about using the T word. And I'll still refrain from applying it to U.S. based street gangs and their associates in organized criminal enterprises. But what's happening south of the border absolutely qualifies as terrorism.

The difference between us and them isn't subtle. Criminal gangs and organized groups in the U.S. generally speaking are not trying to change institutions like LE agencies, the media and the authorized civilian authorities. There are exceptions like Cudahy that still need to be addressed.

The latest proof of the criminal cartels' intent of literally destroying civilian authority is the machine gunning of Tecate's recently appointed deputy chief of police, Jose Juan Soriano Pereira. He was shot fifty times while asleep in bed next to his wife. This is just one more step in Mexico's suicide spiral into total anarchy. When a dope dealer kills another dealer, it's just business. When they start killing cops, newspaper editors and writers, priests and entire families it's not just business anymore. It's an attempt to destabilize the entire edifice of civil order.

There are parts of Mexico where the local government is the drug cartel and no cop or politician who wants to remain breathing will do anything to stop it. The few that do end up like Soriano.

With our sieve-like border, it's only a matter of time before border towns on the U.S. side fall under the unchecked influence of the cartel terrorists. Twenty years ago, nobody would have imagined that the cartels would have their own highly-trained, well-funded and extremely well-armed military wing. By poking at the problem with a stick for twenty years, we now have the Zetas who are nothing less than the security and assassination arm of the cartels.

While we're sweating the small stuff like whether shooting a smuggler in the ass is out of LE policy, the cartels see it as weakness. They can't believe their good luck that this is what grabs headlines in the U.S. and what politicians spend their days worrying about. Severed heads rolled out onto a crowded dance floor? No outrage here. A Texas TV station ordering its reporters not to do any more stories on the cartels for fear of having their station bombed? No outrage from fellow journalists in less dangerous parts of the country.

When Tijuana Police Chief Alfredo de la Torre Marquez was assassinated in 2000, Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a press release deploring the murder and that "We must bring these criminals to justice." This time around, the latest press release from her office deals with the pressing problem of global warming. We're taking our eye off the ball.

If we keep poking the problem with a stick, twenty years from now, we'll be looking back at 2007 as the time when things weren't so bad and fondly recall the days when all we had to worry about were streets and prison gangs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stephen Yagman, the attorney who claimed he didn't know it was illegal to not pay taxes, got three years in a Federal prison and two years of supervised release once he serves the time. As his case proved, Yagman put his money and house in his girlfriend's name, claimed he was broke and then filed for bankruptcy. During the penalty phase, this paragon of morality and cop-baiting ambulance chaser claimed the government went after him because of his years of bringing cases against the LAPD's SIS and the US government over the Gitmo prisoners. Then, talking out of the other side of his mouth, his lawyer apparently told the judge that due to his "experience" in trying to defraud the government out of tax money, Yagman should be allowed to teach ethics in a law school. Who better to teach ethics than someone who tramples them? So on the one hand he's innocent but on the other, he's suffiently familiar with ethics violations that he should teach a class. Using that logic, Yagman would no doubt endorse sentencing Sheriff Carona to a tenured professorship at the Orange County Sheriff's Academy teaching - what else - how to be an honest cop.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This year has to be some kind of record for Federal gang prosecutions. Following on the heels of the F13 and 18th Street indictments we now have a major MS-13 case dropping. The entity behind the MS-13 case is the Metropolitan Task on Violent Crime, a group we haven't seen officially credited with an investigation in a very long time. This was the same group, but clearly different people, that put together the three big Eme RICO cases in the mid and late 1990s. The guy behind all these indictments is US Attorney Tom O'Brien who without question qualifies for a cape and utility belt. For the completists, O'Brien was briefly in charge of prosecuting the four Avenues shooters who killed Chris Bowser, Tony Prudhomme and Kenny Wilson in Highland Park. He promoted up and the court phase of the case went to Alex Bustamante and Barbara Bernstein.

Putting together these Federal/local PD task forces is remarkably cheap in the overall picture of law enforcement spending. The way these things work is that local cops assigned to the task forces are paid their usual salary by their departments and the Federal authorities pay for overtime, cars, equipment etc. This task force also had the cooperation of Salvadoran cops working right here in LA. Accordng to Chief Bratton, the MS-13 task force worked flawlessly. In the US Attorney's press release, Bratton once again stated that gangs are the "number one problem facing our city."

Ironically, the cost of paying public defenders will probably dwarf the cost of the investigation and prosecution. In the F13 case alone, each of the 102 named defendants will no doubt have his own lawyer. String that out over the two years or so the case will last and you can see how the public cash register will start smoking.

After 9/11, there was apprenhension among local cops and pols that the Federales would divert all their resources to fighting the terrorists among us, especially here in LA. As these cases have demonstrated, when the political will is in place, the government can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

FRANKIE B. - 1947 - 2007.
Legendary Emero Frankie "Chivo" Buelna, usually known simply as Frankie B has apparently died by the sword. It was all over Pomona from the minute it happened Tuesday night but we held off on posting it until it became official. He and another man, Enrique Sanchez were shot and killed in Characters Sports Bar on 1st Street in Pomona. Born on 9/29/1947, Buelna rose up through the ranks to hold the keys to El Monte, Pomona and Ontario. While on the street and from prison, Buelna was a key player in getting his part of the world assembled under the blue flag and fall in line with various policy innitiatives.

What's behind his killing? Too soon to say. It may be politics eating up the old-school shot callers or maybe it was a personal. We know that in the space of a week there's been a spike in shootings and assassinations in the area and those may be related. There's more to this, but we may not know for a long time. Or maybe never.

Friday, November 09, 2007

If you've been reading the indictments filed on F13, the observant student will notice some interesting connections. The person named as AC, an unindicted co-conspirator turns out to be Arturo Castellanos, a Mero doing all day. Known variously as "Tablas" and sometimes "Spider," Castellanos is (was) a close associate of Tigger Salinas (Avenues), Salvador "Mon" Buenrostro (Jardin) and Daniel "Spider" Arriega (Maravilla). While he was on the street, Salinas paid regular tribute to Tablas, Mon and Spider but apparently fell out of favor after he got rolled up in murder case (a personal, non business-related beef) and sentenced to LWOP.

Just to backfill some history, Mon was stabbed up in the attorney's room by Rene "Boxer" Enriquez and Ben "Topo" Peters during the first RICO trial in 1995. Mon survived. Boxer, as we all know by now, has debriefed and PC'd up some years ago. Arriega was killed in Chino (the town, not the prison) by some Border Brothers behind some deal gone sideways. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Enjoy.
It's ironic that former police chief and current council member Bernard Parks wants to divert that trash pickup tax money away from hiring more cops to providing other city services. When that tax was put before the citizens, we were told it was going directly to hire more cops for the most under-policed city in the country. Parks imperiously figures now that they have the money they should be able to do anything they want with it. This is nothing less than betrayal of trust. The rationale he uses is that the LAPD has exceeded its budget and has to live within its means. Considering the almost weekly revelations of foolish and/or criminal spending on the part of LAUSD, DWP, the foster care system and LA Bridges, to name a few, Parks should be directing his energies at brooming the deadwood and firing the miscreants in these organizations. But that would take some hard work and maybe stepping on toes of the politically connected. To this day, we don't know the name of the person that blessed the shower of money that poured on No Guns and Hector Marroquin. Maybe we can start there.

To provide some numbers, the LAPD's annual budget is around $1.8 billion according to the LAT. Jackie Goldberg's money pit known as the Belmont Learning Center has already cost roughly $750 million. It's been reported that it could wind up costing right around $1 billion. That's a significant chunk of money, even by drunken sailor political standards. If someone with the guts to start cutting out the waste, fraud, featherbedding and outright thievery I'd bet they'd find enough loose change to keep the garbage money from being poured into places it was never meant.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

After reading all that's been released about Orange County's top law man, it appears that Sheriff Carona is well and truly busted. Even if half of what's been alleged turns out to be true Carona has no business being in charge of a police organization. The guy should resign immediately, take his lumps and turn the department over to someone less morally, ethically and legally challenged. Anything less than resignation, or dismissal if he refuses to step down, will make the department and Orange County look like some Third World rogue republic where you can't tell the difference between the good guys and the criminals. Even at this early stage of the investigation it looks like this will turn into some very ugly muckraking.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The first documented gang in Los Angeles dates back to 1909 according to the people who keep track of these things. I'm not betting the farm on this, but I'm guessing the first gang intervention program followed not too long after that. So here we are almost 100 years later and the city is just now getting around to "defining" just what gang intervention is supposed to be about. According to a piece in the Daily News, the mayor and city councilman Tony Cardenas have figured out that "some prevention programs have been getting money under the banner of intervention when those programs don't actually intervene in gang activity." Cardenas has declined to identify those programs. Stop the presses!

You'd think that after dealing with these issues for - let's be generous and say only 50 years - there would have been some kind of manual or maybe even some typed up notes laying around in an office somewhere that spelled out this kind of stuff before handing out money. Clearly, the implication here is that the givers weren't exactly sure what the receivers would do with the money.

According to Bernard Parks, deciding which programs deserve city dollars is, ". . . a major step forward for the City of Los Angeles." There was no indication in the Daily News story that Parks uttered these words with anything other than a straight face. These guys are supposed to be the smart ones. The leaders with a firm hand on the big wheel steering the ship of the city. The major step here would have been to actually solve the problem, not figuring out that money was being pounded down various rat holes. Meanwhile, back on the moons of Jupiter, Janice Hahn is busy trying to stick her hands deeper into your pocket. She's trying to hit every LA homeowner with an additional $40 per year parcel tax to fund intervention programs.

So let's see, with no definition in hand of what a gang intervention program should be, and Laura Chick sorting through the paperwork to figure out why the millions they're spending aren't doing any good and Connie Rice putting her head in her hands muttering "You've wasted every nickel of it so far," Ms. Hahn is merrily putting the cart before the horse. Memo to Janice. Wise stewardship of other people's money behooves you to intelligently use the money you already have before you ask for more. This is like telling your boss, "I know I'm never on time and I'm always screwing up and you're losing business on account of me. But if you give me a raise, I'll do better. This time I mean it." Nobody ever achieved success by rewarding failure.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Timothy McGhee was convicted of homicide yesterday after years of sitting in County waiting for his trial. Variously know as "Huero" or "Eskimo," McGhee, a former Criminal Justice student at Cal Poly Pomona, was decribed as being something less than a traditional gangster and more of a spree or thrill killer. Unlike his former associate, the King of Drew Street who was all about business, McGhee's assaults and homicides often had nothing at all to do with business. A lot of his capering didn't make him, TVR or the Meros a nickle.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last week, the US Attorney indicted a whole bunch of F13 operators. Today, a couple dozen CLCs got rolled up in another Federal beef.

We haven't seen this level of local and Federal LE activity since the mid to late 1990s when three giant RICO cases blew through town like a freight train and rolled up dozens of Emeros, Associates, shot-callers, key holders, tax collectors and soldiers. You can bet there may be one or more investigations hanging fire somewhere in SoCal.

I don't generally dispense advice but this is a golden opportunity for gang intervention activists to mobilize and start hitting those streets most impacted by these cases. With the leadership and mid-level managers taken out of circulation, now's the time to do some serious gang diversion and intervention. If Jeff Carr, LA's invisible gang czar would maybe hit those streets with a big chart showing who got arrested, why and what kind of time they're facing, there may be an opportunity to turn the young guns around. A "This Could Be You In Five Years" presentation might reach a few hearts and minds and get these kids on the right track. LA has somewhere between $82 and $100 million to dispense on programs. Once the Scrooge message of the Ghost of Christmas future sinks in, use some of that money to get the at-risk kids into programs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just to dispel some rumors, I haven't gone into PC, gotten whacked or retired to a Malibu mansion. I have, however, spent a lot of time doing radio, TV and print promotion for the book, most of it out of town. Believe it or not, this is my first full week back in the Fortress of Solitude since July 25 when the book hit the streets. Not that I'm complaining, but there's a monumental shift in your life when you go from being a hermit scribe to a creature of promotion.

One of the big changes is that I haven't been able to stay up to date on what's happening on the street. Once you start talking way too much about what you're doing, you actually stop doing it and you're just talking about it. That make sense?

I've got a three-foot stack of stories and documents that need reading and about fifty phone calls to return. Once I whittle through the stack and get on the phone, I'll be back in the loop and get some fresh information on the site.

Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

For those interested, Armstrong and Getty will have me on the air in about 15 minutes. Sorry for the late notice but that's life in the big city. I've been told they podcast so you can catch it online.

At 12:40 Pacific time, WCCO in Minneapolis on The Jack Rice Show. I think they live stream and podcast as well.

More to come.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

As you can imagine, getting a book off the launch pad isn't something you can do on a part time basis. I've been going flat out for the three weeks and haven't had a minute to post.

The book is hitting the stores as we speak while reviewers and media people have gotten early copies. For the most part, the response has been positive. More on that later on. The take from Publisher's Weekly, however, was generally negative and they took one quote the wrong way. I quoted DA Manzella saying, "We know exactly the kind of families that produce criminals. I'd like to go in there and take them out. But we can't do that." What the DA meant was TAKE THEM OUT OF THOSE FAMILIES. Not "take them out" as in terminate them. The intent was clear to everybody that read and edited the manuscript but apparently, you have to spell things out to some people. The point the DA was making was that public policy will not allow kids to be yanked out of environments that we know will produce unhealthy attitudes or destructive behaviors. It was very clear from the context of that entire paragraph exactly what the DA meant. The sentence prior to that stated, "the ultimate road block to a gang is a stable family." Some people read into things that which they choose to read.

On another topic, be on the lookout for radio appearances. I just got a schedule of potential interviews and I'm waiting for confirmation. If there's any interest in posting up a schedule of interviews, let's hear about it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

After decades of talking about it, the city finally has a gang -- what? Boss? Emperor? Overlord? Call him anything but Czar. According to Rev. Jeff Carr, a Czar is a guy who is forcibly retired in front of a firing squad. Can't fault him for the analogy.

It'll be interesting to see how much horsepower he'll be given and what precisely will he do. At this point, nobody seems to know. The old dictum is that he who holds the purse strings wields the power. But it's not clear if he'll have control of doling out funds to intervention programs or pulling the plug on them if they crash and burn like No Guns.

From everything we've heard so far, his position is that of advisor to the Mayor. Which doesn't sound like an executive position. He's the go-to guy when the Mayor needs to decide on gang issues. This is probably not the way the office should have been organized but the rumor is that Carr was picked more for his ability to solicit grants from public and private sector sources than any actual gang intervention capabilities. We'll see.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tarso Luis Ramos, Director of Research of a group called Political Research Associates has recently taken me to task at for using the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe the scores of racially motivated attacks against Blacks committed by Hispanic gang members.

The gist of Mr. Ramos' critique is that my analysis of the situation is colored by my "apparent right wing leanings." His evidence of my political orientation is that some things I've written have appeared in "rightwing culture warrior David Horowitz’s Web magazine Frontpagemag" and that my publisher also published Victor David Hanson's "Mexifornia."

Ramos calls me "the most persistent purveyor of the ethnic cleansing frame." Maybe it's because I was the first to notice. The simple truth of the matter is, I didn't go looking for that particular story. When I started doing research some ten years ago, I had no idea such a thing existed. I first started hearing about it from my interviews with active and retired gangsters and from street cops. I clearly remember back in 1999, a cop told me that in his reporting district, black citizens (not gangsters) were safe on one side of the street but put their lives at risk if they crossed over. And when I heard the same thing from other sources in other parts of the county, it was clear that a pattern existed.

And as explained to me by people in the neighborhoods, they didn't want their V(B)arrio (take your pick) to "turn into Watts." When asked what they meant by that, I leave to your imagination what they said. It would make a Klansman proud.

Then I collected about a dozen court cases documenting racially motivated violence and murder and I shotgunned a bunch of query letters and phone calls to the usual media. At the time, even I wasn't calling it ethnic cleansing or a race war. To me, it was just a new development on an old problem.

Regular readers already know the response I got. Some flat out refused to accept that this was happening. Some were afraid that running the piece would stoke a race war. Or I had an agenda. Or I was trying to make Mexicans look bad. From Los Angeles Magazine, LACityBeat, LA Weekly, the Daily News, OC Register, NY Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly - you name it - there were lots of excuses not to run with the story.

During that slog to get the facts out, I called the NAACP, Rainbow Push and other Black civil rights groups repeatedly. I asked for comments on the phenomenon. They told me, "Someone will get back to you." No one ever did. The only Black group to respond was Islamic Hope. And they, meaning Najee Ali, were already aware of the situation. And Ali minced no words in telling me why the "established" Black groups had plugged their ears and covered their eyes to the realities on the street. He was running into the same stone wall with them and the media. Clearly I wasn't alone.

There was another group that ran into a media and "activist" stone wall -- the families of the victims. Nobody wanted to touch it because when it came to choosing between ideology and speaking out for those who can no longer speak, ideology won out in this case. Unlike the ideologically blinded, the families had no illusions about the nature of the forces that took away their loved ones. Perhaps Mr. Ramos would like to speak to them directly.

It was the survivors and the attitudes of people on the street that finally got me to thinking of the situation in terms of ethnic cleansing. What was the point of the attacks and homicides? In the words of one perp, it was to "keep them from infesting the neighborhood." Whether the words come out of a Latino, a white guy with a hood, a Hutu, a Tutsi or a Bosnian, it is the language of intolerance. So excuse me for pointing that out.

Does it rise to the level of ethnic cleansing? Certainly it's not on the same scale as Bosnia. Or Darfur. I came to the conclusion, however, that in terms of INTENT, there's no difference between killing one guy or a thousand. After all, what's the threshold? Is ten dead guys enough to qualify? A hundred? The intent is to intimidate, frighten and drive off anyone else thinking of living where they choose to live or drive where they want (Wilson) or carry a boom box (Bowser) or rent an apartment (Prudhomme). Because the perps didn't succeed to the extent they desired does not lessen their intent to drive innocent people out of the hood. So what do you call it?

The question Mr. Ramos raises in his piece is "Who Gains From Framing Gang Attacks in LA as "'Ethnic Cleansing'"? Bluntly speaking, the question itself is obscene. I never once framed the issue in terms of immigration or a battle between conservative or liberal politics. I never articulated the issue as anything other than what it was.

And "gain?" What is that? As if the murder of innocents is some kind of political chess match? I don't even know that math.

It's hard to figure out if Mr. Ramos is in favor of suppressing news or just making sure to spin it in a way that doesn't give anyone some kind of "gain." He quotes Sheilagh Polk, the media relations manager at the Community Coalition that the media, “have played a significant role in escalating gang violence.”“When you have Fox news broadcasting about racial violence inside prisons, that creates pressure outside to retaliate.” I've heard a lot of reasons for escalating violence but news stories about it have never been at the top of the list. Or anywhere on it. If media coverage is a causal component of violence, then does non-coverage lead to peace? Based on her premise, let's stop reporting gang violence altogether so gangs won't feel the need to retaliate. Ignore them and maybe they'll go away.

Mr. Ramos also quotes Aqeela Sherrills, a gang expert. Sherrills believes that the Mexican Mafia is run by businessmen who find "no advantage in a generalized conflict with African Americans." Which is why the two groups get along so well in prison. But at least he got the businessmen part right. His comment underscores a certain naivete about the nature of that business and the dictum that "In chaos, there is profit." And a destabilized competitor is a weak competitor.

I could spend the rest of the day going through Mr. Ramos' assertions and conclusions. But it's tiresome.

The bottom line is that we've got serious social issues to handle and we're not getting anywhere by worrying about what part of the political spectrum is gaining or losing ground. Call me a liar, call me a Troglodyte, tell me I'm full of crap, an alarmist, sensationalist or a right wing whack job. It won't stop what's happening on street. Over to you Tarso.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Here's a link to one of the most revealing articles I've ever read about a dropout. It ran in today's Whittier Daily News and underscores few salient points about the generational nature of the gang culture and the seduction of false power. It's clear the writer, Sandy Mazza has been following this story for some time. Nice work.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

As a lot of cops have been warning for years, Hector "Weasel" Marroquin has finally been exposed as gaming the system and working both sides of the street. As LA Times and LA Weekly articles this week reported, Marroquin has been arrested in an ATF undercover buy operation. He allegedly sold full auto weapons and suppressors to an ATF agent at his Marrokings restaurant in Cudahy.

The founder of No Guns, a gang intervention program funded with public money, Marroquin has basically been shoved down the throats of gang cops by their commanders for years as a person they should work with to quell gang violence and divert young people from the life. Even though these street cops knew full well that Weasel was a phony and reported it to their superiors, the brass hats and politicians disregarded the warnings and continued to bring Hector around to lecture cops on how to do their jobs.

According to the LA Times article by the energetic Sam Quinones, it wasn't just gang cops that suspected Marroquin of less-than-virtuous intentions. The Times quoted Connie Rice,"I never for a moment believed he ever left the life. I always thought he was using the system." Rice was on the Police Commission at one time and if the city fathers paid no attention to her, for sure they wouldn't take the word of street cops. The LA Weekly article has ten photos of Marroquin and his son and in almost every picture, Hector is flashing 18th Street. He could not have made it more obvious.

In the same article, Tom Hayden stated, "These guys perform a service. If they backslide, well, who doesn't?" The difference in attitude betweeen Rice and Hayden could not be more dramatic. Rice obviously isn't blinded by ideology. Hayden, a friend and supporter of Marroquin's, is still whipping that dead horse in an effort o reanimate it. For one thing, in order to backslide, someone must abandon the old life. Hayden still can't recognize the fact that Marroquin never actually abandoned his ways. He's been an operator for the Meros since day one and Hayden can't or won't admit that he's been played, suckered and hung out to flap in the breeze. Loyalty is a fine thing. But carried too far there's the danger it could turn you into a collaborator and enabler.

For Hayden to actually consider the possibility that Marroquin did "backslide" is in itself an indication of progress. When Ernie "Chuco" Castro was arrested on weapons charges and flipped in 1992, Hayden suggested in his book that the guns were planted on Castro to turn him as an informant. So far, Hayden hasn't raised the possibility of an elaborate conspiracy to bring Marroquin down.

Unfortunately for our city and county, No Guns isn't the only questionable program receiving public funds. There are some out there still operating and doing a better job of deflecting scrutiny. Maybe in the fullness of time, our elected officials will catch a clue.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I know you've been wondering what hole swallowed me up. Contrary to speculation that I've been on a drunk or in WIT SEC, the truth is more prosaic. I've been hammering down the final details on the long-awaited book. Here's what the cover will look like. Look for it in bookstores around mid-July. If you absolutely can't wait, you can pre-order online at the usual places. But you'll still have to wait until July to have it in hand.
The worst of the pre-pub drama is over so I'm hoping I'll have more time to post.
As with most books, there was more manuscript than there was room between the covers. So a lot of stuff had to be pruned away. But I've been assured that if the book sells well, future editions will provide more room for expansion and elaboration. Here's hoping.
If it doesn't do well, it's back to sweeping floors and selling oranges at the off-ramps.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You know you're doing something right if your G-ride is a Mercedes. While going through some recent documents, we came across an incident in which a Reseda SS was busted in the act of tagging a wall by undercover West Valley cops. What surprised the cops was the twenty-something tagger's ride -- a three-year-old Mercedes 320 SUV. Very clean. Freshly detailed. And not stolen. It was registered to the tagger. The giant RSS he hit the wall with exceeded the $400 threshold of misdemeanor vandalism so the Mercedes owner/tagger is facing felony vandalism. Apparently the tagger already had an I-card on file and was not a wannabe.

This incident has to tell you something about 1) The state of the economy when even local G-Sters can afford rides the average citizen cant't 2) The amount of money available on the streets or 3) Poverty may not be a significant causal component of illegal activity. Take your pick. I'm confused.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

If there's any doubt that the gangster mindset has become a bankable commodity, you don't need to look any further than the record business and the clothing industry. I won't mention the name, but there's a clothing line based in the greater LA area that markets what they call "authentic jailhouse street wear." The T-shirts, jackets and hats sport the label's logo in addition to things like "186.22" (the California Penal Code section that covers gang membership), "LA County Jail 1750" (the High Power Module) and "P-Bay SHU" (Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit).

While I fully understand the concept of wearing something ironically and the idea of reverse cool (hip young mothers, for instance, dressing like Doris Day and Lucille Ball) there doesn't seem to be any ironic content in this clothing line. It appears to be a flat out glorification of jail life and gangsterism. I don't know who's buying this stuff, but I can almost guarantee that nobody who's been in the SHU or the high power module would wear a T-shirt to fondly commemorate the event.

I would bet that this clothing is aimed at the wannabe fringe, young people who probably haven't got a clue what prison life is really like. And frankly, it's a bad message.

Unfortunately, this bad message isn't restricted to wannabe gangsters. Some gang cop groups are also marketing clothing that looks an awful lot like classic gang wear. These guys should know better. When the good guys and the bad guys start looking the same, it's time to re-examine your premise and figure out who you really are.

Friday, April 13, 2007

As if on cue, the LA WEEKLY and the LA TIMES published stories of local political corruption right after the issue was raised here in connection with gang cops and disclosing their personal finances. The Weekly story focuses on Bell Gardens Councilman Mario Beltran, his connection to the 740 Club's owner Ralph Verdugo and La Puente City Councilman John Solis. According to the accompanying piece in the Weekly, Beltran is a protege of State Senators Gil Cedillo and Ron Calderon.

In the Times piece, Lynwood Mayor Louis Byrd and Councilman Fernando Pedroza were charged by LA DA Dave Demerjian with misappropriating city funds by taking personal trips on Lynwood's dime. Pedroza apparently even charged lap dances in Guadalajara to the city. A year ago, Paul Richards was sentenced to 16 years in the Feds on charges of public corruption. Former Lynwood council members Armando Rea, Arturo Reyes and Ricardo Sanchez are also named in Demerjian's filing.

The Weekly story was written by the same Jeffrey Anderson who wrote the pieces on corruption in Cudahy and the Marroquin/No Guns scandal.

There's obviously a pattern of illegal behavior and corruption in these little cities. It looks like they're being run like Medieval fiefdoms with the guys in the castle raking in the booty and the Dukes in Sacramento backing their play. While it appears that the legal system is working to put these bandits in suits out of business, the big question is, "Where's the public outrage and the big media coverage?" The Weekly's coverage, while excellent, isn't exactly big media. Where's the call for Federal supervision of these towns? Maybe we need another Christopher Commision to ride herd on these people complete with compliance certification from Kroll just to make sure the lap dances aren't paid for with public money.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gang cops are apparently showing no inclination to have their personal financial information open to public scrutiny. On the other side of the issue, the opposition also shows no indication that they'll abandon efforts to require that gang cops reveal their financial records. A number of veteran gang cops have already asked for and gotten reassignment and the rest are ready to do the same if they're ordered to reveal their records.

This looks like a classic standoff with neither side willing to compromise. This also appears to be a case of double, triple and quadruple standards. The rationale for revealing a gang cop's records is the suspicion that they may be more likely than the average patrol officer to be corrupted by access to dope and large quantities of cash in the course of their daily work. As we've said before, that rationale of potential corruption could apply to thousands of civil servants, elected officials, recipients of public funds and virtually any private entity that does business with local, state or the Federal government.

Why focus on gang cops for this selective scrutiny? The simple answer is Rafael Perez. While on the face it it appears to make sense, you can also point to dozens of cases of corruption and nefarious backscratching much further up the food chain. Just to review, there's the DWP and cozy deals with PR firms and massive overtime fraud, elected officials hiring their girlfriends who have no campaign experience as campaign advisors, others exchanging guns for dope with known street gangsters, others getting hit with huge fines for illegal campaign financing, flying around the country on private planes owned by companies doing business with the city, others buying cocaine and using it in their own offices, others looking the other way when pet intervention programs are infiltrated by an organized criminal enterprise -- need we go on?

If you aren't going to trust cops because they "might" get corrupted conducting their business, then we shouldn't trust anybody who might be exposed to the possibility of corruption. Whether they do it with a gun screwed into a drug dealer's ear or by cutting a purchase order for a new construction project, using the yardstick for the pontential of corruption is a huge club that could be swung at a lot more people than gang cops.

Friday, March 30, 2007


The message below is fairly typical of a lot of the comments that get bounced. It was always a policy to keep this blog from turning into a netbanging site and over time I rejected thousands of these. I thought I'd try an experiment and run this one.

I'm assuming this commenter is genuine. If he isn't just yanking my crank, maybe somebody out there who's been there and back and lived to tell the tale may want to compose a few thoughts to set this guy straight on the realities of where he appears to be headed. Think of it as your good deed for the day.

Making good on his promise to dismantle local gang "headquarters" and dope emporiums, Rocky D. shut down a dope house in Pacoima yesterday and forced the owners to take down hardened and soft covers that were erected to prevent visual observation. The last one he took down on Drew Street seemed like a PR stunt and some of you wondered aloud if that take down was one-time phenomenon. Apparently not. The Harvard grad and former resident of HP who grew up being regularly robbed and tormented by Avenues seems to be dead serious about his job. It looks like Rocky wants to acquire his cape and utility belt the old fashioned way - he wants to earn it.

While Rocky is getting the face time in the media, you have to wonder about the total absence of DA Steve Cooley. Traditionally, felony prosecutions are generally the domain of the DA's office, not the City Attorney's office. After doing a little snooping, there appears to be a revolt in the DA ranks. Cooley has been missing in action and the deputy DAs, according to some, have been actively discouraged from filing cases. One rumor is that Cooley issued orders to DAs to reduce their filings by 20 percent. In addition, Cooley and his minions are encouraging DAs to plead cases down to absurd levels, essentially giving good cases away just to get them off their desks. This is not only making DAs crazy, it's also demoralizing cops who see their work in putting strong cases together vanish in a weak plea agreement. The only people who seem happy with this trend at the DA's office are the public defenders.

We've heard some incredibly strange tales coming out of Cooley's office that we can't report on until they're verified but they sound scary. More on this later.

On an unrelated topic, many thanks to the commenters who are maintaining an elevated level of discourse. For the disgruntled who are seeing their comments bounced, please reflect not on what you say, but how you say it. Telling somebody that he has his head up his ass is not an argument. It's an ad hominem attack that does nothing to advance the discussion. Also, we're getting sharper on detecting people posting under other people's handle. We're getting wise to that and bouncing those too.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

In case anyone still has lingering illusions about the power projection out of the jails and into the streets, here's the first greenlight list ever uploaded to the web. It's quite old and most of the information is no longer valid, but you can get a sense of how these things sound. It's puzzling how after all the information made public and boatloads of evidence presented in thousands of court cases, some people still refuse to acknowledge the influence of prison gangs on street gangsters. Here you see nothing less than assassination orders on the unfortunate individuals and gangs that got on the wrong side of the brothers. These lists are generated on a daily basis and sometimes you'll get two or three revisions a day. Sort of like a morning, afternoon and evening edition of a newspaper. The changes reflect the latest available intelligence fed into the prison and jail system by operators on the outside by means of third party calls, mail, legal documents and personal visits.
On another topic, some of the commenters are get out of control. If I reject your comment, go to your corner, think about what you said and see if you can say it in a less disrepectful way. I'm getting tired of being a referee and Miss Manners. I'm instituting a MANO DURA policy and if you can't play nice, don't play.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

So now it appears that gang cops have to produce their financial records if they want to stay on that assignment. The officers concerned are indignant because they feel it infringes on privacy rights and frankly makes them feel like the department and the city doesn't really trust them. On top of which, they're only allowed to stay on gang assignments for three years and then rotate out to other assignments. Which in itself is counterproductive because it takes about that long for a gang cop to get to know the players in the division. So just when a gang cop gets good at it, he's gone.

There appears to be a double standard at work here. Without mentioning names, the city has been giving money to less than completely trustworthy gang intervention programs with virtually no oversight. Even after red flags began waving in the wind, these programs were never investigated and oversight was virtually non-existent. And the money kept flowing. It was only when the "questionable" behavior became egregious that investigations were launched. We haven't seen the last of them, by the way.

Partisans on the side of the questionable programs are quick to point out that "one bad apple doesn't spoil the barrel." Fair enough. It isn't fair to tar everyone involved with the same smut brush. But couldn't the same thing be said about bad cops. One Rafael Perez doesn't spoil the entire department. If you're going to cut the questionable programs that kind of slack, the same reasoning, it would appear, could apply to cops.

And in truth, the same reasoning could also apply to our elected and appointed officials. When Mike Hernandez got nailed for dope use, he apologized, kept his job and was re-elected. We didn't see a full throttle investigation into the financial records of all the city's elected officials. Was there a Christopher Commission type of investigation and consent decree to make sure the rest of the city fathers weren't more Mike Hernandez' waiting in the wings?

If you're going to look into gang cops' bank accounts, let's make it fair and look into the bank accounts of all our law enforcement people and all our city and state stewards. After all, isn't it just as likely that a government functionary in charge of public spending be corrupted by sweetheart deals and kickbacks as a working gang cop?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

As predicted, the freaks came out and demonstrated to the world how truly screwed we are. The language was bad enough, but the spelling was atrocious. It would be easy to blame the school system, but you can't educate a kid who doesn't even show up. And clearly a lot of the comments were from school dropouts and unfortunately, life dropouts. Apologies to all who had to endure the hate fest but we're back in the saddle and moderating again. Call it censorship if you will. I call it the crap filter. While I believe in free speech, very little of what appeared could be characterized as speech. It was more like Tourrette's syndrome. Glad it's over.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Starting right now until the middle of next week, I'll be away from the computer. Therefore, I can't post or even moderate comments. But since I don't want to leave you voiceless or cause a spleen backup, I turned off the comment moderation. I know for sure this will turn the comments section into a freak show. So be prepared. Before I return next week, please put the funiture back where it belongs, throw out the beer cans, clean up the ashtrays and wipe the blood off the walls. To the readers who aren't completely insane, accept my apologies. The comments do not reflect the opinions of this blog and the opinions expressed are strictly those of the commenters. See you next week.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Since I already had something in mind about this issue, I'll start off with a comment from one of our many anon. commenters. I wish you guys would invent some interesting handles so I can keep you straight in my head, but whatever.

"To Wally,You used to tell us how the L.A. times did not cover gang news or racial motivated shootings but lately it seems they are giving a lot of coverage to all these topics. I’m not sure if it is because Mayor V., Chief Bratton, and Rocky D. are all trying to make gangs high priority and profile."

The commenter goes on to link the latest Times pieces on crime and gangs. Obviously, it's not just me that's noticing an increase in crime and gang coverage. And it's not just the Times. It's all the media in LA. I still stand by what I said back when this blog started. There was precious little coverage of the subject. There were stories (like the racial killings, the Eme's vertical integration initiatives, neighborhood expansions and various beefs) that were totally below the radar. This was one of the reasons I started blogging. It was to publicize stories that were being ignored.

When the city was looking for a new police chief, Rick Caruso said that addressing the issue of gangs and crime should be the new cheif's first priority. Dead silence. When Chief Bratton was hired, he said in one of his early public announcements that his first priority was addressing the same issue. Some of our local papers derisively started calling him Bill "War on Gangs" Bratton. As if trying to reduce the body count was something bad.

Now those same papers are writing stories about the Mexican Mafia being the 400-lb. Gorilla in the room, greenlight lists, taxation, regulation, shot-callers and, of course, ethnic cleansing. Big turnaround in attitude.

What happened?

Several things, the most prominent being the Federal hate crime indictment of Bird, Lucky, Sneaky and Dreamer from Avenues 43. Regular readers will recall that prior to that indictment, this blog was the only source of information about the Wilson, Bowser and Prudhomme murders. And it was the only source on similar events in Pomona, the SF Valley, Compton, Watts, Long Beach etc. When I approached some of the local papers about these homicides, I was given a less than enthusiastic reception. They basically showed me the door. That's a long story that will eventually be told.

It's easy to ignore one guy. It's impossible to ignore a Federal indictment. The media was frankly overwhelmed by events. When a release from the US Attorney's Press Office hits an editor's desk, you can't pretend you don't know. And you suddenly have to start caring.

Honest to God true story. I was sitting with a Northeast Homicide cop one day soon after the Avenues indictment came out. This cop knew I'd been trying to sell the thing to the media for years. It was somebody from a local free paper wanting to know about the Avenues case. He chatted with the person for a few minutes and when he hung up he looked at me and said, "Where they f*** have they been for the last three years?" Good question and rich irony. I'd been in the caller's office a month earlier in a futile and what proved to be my last ditch effort to get that paper to run my piece.

The truth is, I wasn't alone in banging on doors and rattling media cages. The families of murder victims were doing the same and getting the same "Not interested" response. Tony Prudhomme's mother got herself knocked silly having various media doors slammed in her face.

Over the next week, this cop's phone started ringing and wouldn't stop. The LA Times, Newsweek, CNN, Fox News, CBS, BBC, the local free papers (natch), and various freelancers all wanted in on the Avenues case. Then in the last week of the Federal trial, a Hispanic football player was shot and killed defending his black teammate on Avenue 40.

By then of course, after the world learned that "Avenue 43 Kills for Thrills," the media had given itself permission to go ahead and write about the thing that could not be named. In rapid sequence we had the Connie Rice report, the spike in gang crimes, four Hispanics executed Sadr City style on Harvard by black shooters with AKs, Kaytlin Avila wantonly shot in the chest by a guy who went out of his way to come back and kill her, the cop conference with LE from south, way south and way, way south of the border and then there was Cheryl Green. And after that we got Najee Ali with the phony truce, Bob Mueller, a Task Force, Feinstein asking for $1 Billion for gang suppression/intervention, Rocky sort of wanting and not wanting a gang Czar, the Drew Street dope house slamdown, Shadow Cambero from 43 making it to the Ten Most Wanted list, Garcia extradited back to the US, LA Bridges under scrutiny, Weasel getting shot, Tony V. lobbying the AG for money and bodies and now the Guv and Rudy G. meeting to get something done. That's not the exact order, but you get the picture. This confluence of events resulted in what the commenter has accurately assessed as increased coverage of the subject. "Holy cow, Batman. We got a real problem."

Is all this coverage a good thing or hysteria? I say it's about time.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I have to publicly credit Sam Quinones at the LA Times for single-handedly re-orienting my attitude about the paper. In the previous post, I expressed some concern regarding Jill Leovy's take on the significance of the racial component to the homicide rate. While I agree that the racial aspect isn't "driving" the homicides to a huge degree, her opinion leaves one wondering what's the bodycount threshold for starting to take the racial aspect seriously? Is ten percent not enough? At what point in the stats does race homicide become worthy of James Byrd or Matthew Shepard levels of public outrage?

In the Sunday edition, Quinones revisits Harbor Gateway, digs deep, and comes up with the real goods. Unlike a lot of what we see in print, it's clear Quinones didn't phone it in. Having been there and done that, I know you can spend a week working your jaw and knocking on doors to come up with one good quote. And he's got lots of them.

Clearly, the staff at the Times is not monolithic in perception and attitude and I can only assume, based on these dissimilar stories, that there's some healthy dialogue happening on Spring Street. All the for the better. Quinones, by the way, is the first reporter I can think of that makes an unequivocal connection between Eme policies and the race homicides. Read the story, download it and save it. This one is a seminal piece of reportage that, in light of the inevitable future events, will prove to be spot on the money.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Jill Leovy, the LA Times crime reporter and homicide blogger, made what has to be one of the oddest observations I've ever read in our hometown paper of record. Her claim is that racial animosity is not driving the homicide rate up to any significant degree. Leovy made a calculation based on homicides in four LAPD Divisions - Shootin' Newton, Southwest, Southeast and 77th. The murders in those Divisions totaled 236. Of that number "just 22" were between Blacks and Latinos as either shooter or victim. That represents roughly 10% of the total. The other 90% involved shooters and victims of the same race or ethnic group. In her opinion, that small percentage really doesn't amount to a huge problem.

While no one would want to accuse the LA Times of cherry picking facts, a more accurate barometer would have included not only other LAPD Divisions such as Northeast, West Valley and Mission but also other towns in the greater LA area like Pomona, Colton, San Bernardino, and Riverside. An even finer tuning of the data would also include not just homicides, but hundreds of assaults, intimidation and what the Penal Code calls terrorist threats. A close look at the court documents in the Avenues Federal trial would reveal that there were dozens of assaults and/or threats against Blacks in Northeast but they only resulted in two homicides -- Wilson and Bowser. There was a third homicide, that of Anthony Prudhomme, but that one is still hanging and waiting for more evidence to be developed.

The attitude of the Times on this hometown issue stands in stark contrast to its attitude during the James Byrd truck dragging death in Jasper, Texas. The Times ran a handful of stories on the Northeast killings, but only after the Federal filing. The original homicides and the Superior Court cases that ensued were almost totally ignored by the Times. It only became a story when the US Attorney entered the scene.

Compare this to the 56 stories that the Times ran on the Jame Byrd homicide. The paper covered the initial homicide, the investigation, the trial and then the verdicts. That coverage was fleshed out by a number of Op-Eds and columns. Those 56 stories in the Wally files don't include the articles that ran in the Times calling for more hate crime laws in the wake of the Byrd homicide and the issue that it became in the 2000 presidential election. If those were included, the stories would run into at least 100. In re-reading some of those pieces that ran in the Times, I never came across one that said the Byrd homicide was "marginal" as Leovy states of the LA homicides. Statistically, of course, the Byrd case was far more marginal than the LA race killings. That was an isolated murder committed out of personal racial animosity, not part of a pattern of assault and intimidation sponsored and mandated by an organized criminal enterprise. Once Byrd's killers went away, they didn't have a group of associates to continue their work.

Strange are the ways of the Times. In the case of James Byrd, one racial homicide is apparently one too many. In the case of the LA race homicides, 22 is apparently not enough.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Now that the cat's out of the bag on Cudahy, I guess it's time to elaborate on the dynamics as explained in the excellent article in the LA Weekly. We can thank the new editorial management at the Weekly for the straightforward delivery of facts without the usual navel gazing and spin.

If you haven't read the piece, do it.

To put it bluntly, Cudahy has been thoroughly corrupted by criminal forces from south of the border. And it wasn't an accident. It was an organized and well-planned campaign to take control of the city government, neutralize the police force and create legitimate front businesses for illegal activities. It's a model that, over the decades, has been field-tested, refined and honed to perfection in Mexican border towns. The goal is to spawn replicants of those towns on this side of the border, create safe havens for the importation of drugs and organize launching pads for other forms of illegal activity. Weasel's presence in Cudahy is no mere coincidence. In the fullness of time, the moves behind the attempt on his life will probably reveal some interesting connections.

In addition to Cudahy, there are a few other municipalities that need to be closely scrutinized. If their offices don't get fired bombed first, maybe the Weekly can be induced to publicize more of these cartel outposts.
The LA Times reports today that Highland Park (aka HLP) got slapped with a gang injunction. According to the article, this brings the total number of injunctions in the city to 50 and we can see how well that's been working. In its own way, Avenues has had an injunction against HLP (which stands for Helpless according to Avenues) for years. The difference is, Avenues enforces its injunction with bullets.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Due to popular demand for more pictures from the Fortress of Solitude here's one for your files. What we have here was taken in 1994, ancient history by some standards. The subject is Alex "Pee Wee" Aguirre standing on the balcony of a motel in La Mirada doing some counter-surveillance on the parking lot. In the background is the room where he and other carnales were holding one of the many meetings that were videotaped and recorded by the Task Force. Those meeting tapes served as the backbone of the US Attorney's case against Aguirre, Cowboy, Huero Shy, China Boy and the other defendants in the first of three RICO cases. According to people on both sides of the issue, Pee Wee was probably one of the smartest operators ever to come out of Avenues. There wasn't one drop on ink on him and he never dressed down. He was also a phenomenal earner and knew how to keep the troops happy. Had he directed his talents in a different direction, he could have made of himself anything he wanted.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Some commenters are getting dangerously close to being banned. Healthy discusssion about ISSUES is always welcome, even if the opinion is over the top. I'm drawing the line at personal attacks. Some of you are walking the fine line and scrapping in the dirt. It's okay to disagree strongly with an opinion as long as you keep the comment above the personal level. Within those limits, there's plenty of room to call a person's sanity into question in a creative or humorous way. By now you should know where the line is. I've let a few wobblers get through and I'm regretting that decision. Since I started moderating the comments, the hits are steadily increasing because the non-participant visitors are genuinely interested in the topics discussed here. They're not here to witness digital bitch slapping. Many of the regulars, of course, deserve huge credit for maintaining the elevated tone and for responding to outrageous comments in a clever, non-confrontational way. You know who you are, so thanks very much. End of Sunday morning sermon.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today's LA Times carries a story about the legendary Ramona Gardens Housing Project, also known historically as Big Hazard or Hazard Grande. It's your typical piece about the residents being stuck between a rock and a hard place - gangsters on one side and the cops on the other. What prompted the story was the recent death of Mauricio Cornejo, a resident of Ramona who died while in police custody. The cops are under suspicion that they beat the guy to death but the prelim autopsy doesn't show evidence of blunt force trauma. So we'll have to wait to see the cause and manner of death in the final Coroner's report.

The Times piece leaves a lot to be desired for those hungry for information and context. There's a little timeline at the end of the piece that's titled, A History of Tensions. This "history" is way short of definitive. There are only three items in that "history." So for the benefit of the reading public, here's what you're not getting from our leading urban newspaper.

For decades, Hazard was an R&R stop for paroled felons, even if they didn't originally come from that neighborhood. It was a place where the newly returned decompressed, kicked back and got their marching orders. Hazard had an on-and-off relationship with the Carnales. Some Hazard alumni include "Charlie Brown" Manriquez, "Sluggo" Pineda, Manuel "Rocky" Luna, Roy "Sonny B" Balesteros, Daniel "Danny Boy" Pina and Richard "Chico" Cruz. This is not a definitive list by any means, but noteworthy players.

Some of these names are still in good standing while others have met their end for various transgressions.

Charlie Brown, Rocky and Sluggo all went down. Rocky was a tecato collecting without authority and allegedly consulted with Edward Olmos in American Me. Charlie Brown apparently got his for also consulting on the film. Sluggo was found near the train tracks stabbed 40 times with a screwdriver and his throat ripped open with a torn up beer can.

In February 1992, Juan "China Boy" Arias (from Artesia) and David "Smilon" Gallardo got into a big shootout right in the middle of the projects over Hazard's failure to regulate four of their own. Taxation and all that. Arias took one in the chest but survived and Smilon was arrested soon after in Vegas. Both of them were rolled up in RICO case number one in 1995.

Then on May 13, 1992, Ana Lizarraga was machine gunned on Lancaster by Jose "Joker" Gonzalez. Joker claimed Hazard. Lizarraga in her own way also claimed Hazard as a gang intervention and drug rehab worker. She too allegedly consulted with Olmos on the film. A year later, Joker was sentenced to life for her murder and is apparently still in up status.

Now you know, so there you go. You'd think with all the resources at the Times they could maybe dig a little deeper.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It appears the LAPD is making good on its promise to bring down the hammer. Last week Chief Bratton and the Mayor released its list of the top eleven gangs targeted for suppression and a list of Most Wanted fugitives. Yesterday, they put teeth into the initiative by scooping up 110 suspects in the San Fernando Valley and arresting 64 of them on various charges. According to the Daily News, there's a 50-member Task Force roaming the Valley and that's the entity responsible for these arrests.

Careful readers of the gang initiative will realize that the gangs they swooped in on yesterday - notably Blythe and Van Nuys - are NOT on the list of top eleven gangs. So what's the story?

If history is any indicator, the people scooped up yesterday are the easy fish. The point is to get these guys off the street and in front of investigators who will probably press them for information. Out of any population of recently arrested, you will invariably bag a few who are looking at a second or maybe even a third strike. Those are the folks more likely to give up a little information in exchange for certain considerations.

That information of itself isn't all that useful. But what it does is provide enough probable cause for a judge to agree to wiretaps and other forms of surveillance to go after the shot callers and multi-jurisdictional operators. Keep in mind that the Valley Task Force includes Federal agents. The Federales have a lower threshold than local judges for obtaining wiretap orders. Not to mention more money for assigning bodies and using better gear.

The track record for this type of Federal and local cooperation is spectacularly good. Diligent students will recall the three big RICO cases of the mid and late 1990s that started precisely with this scenario. Sweeps of the low hanging fruit that yielded intel followed by surveillance and ultimately followed by Federal indictments.

Just to round things out, another sweep took place further east in Chino Hills, Fontana, Bassett, West Valinda, Pomona and West Covina. The sweep netted six arrestees, dope, guns and over $30K in cash. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A round of interesting comments from some of the more thoughtful commenters set me off on a train of thought. The question bouncing back and forth addresses the issue of street shootings involving non-players and civilians. I was going to post some thoughts on the LA Times' recent addition of a Homicide Blog to its web page. This is a good idea that's been long overdue. It was something I wanted to do here, but as a one-man-band lacking the resources of the Tribune empire, it was beyond reach. The Homicide Blog, as some readers have pointed out, underscores the vile nature of kids shooting kids based on the question to which there is no correct answer - "Where you from?"

The son of an old friend of mine was shot and killed in front of a movie theater ten years ago after two guys rolled up on him and his girlfriend and asked that infamous question. The kid said, "I don't bang." It was the last thing he ever said. Trust me. I watched this kid grow up. He learned to swim in my pool, I cooked him and his friends burgers and we watched my Monty Python videos. He didn't know one end of a gun from the other and he was walking the straight and narrow.

His girlfriend said that when the two guys pointed the gun, he didn't run. He threw himself on the girl and they back shot him. Not real sporting. It doesn't take much courage to shoot an unarmed non-player in the back. It takes even less to shoot girls in Highland Park or Harbor. Ultimately, it's this type of episode that has finally motivated our politicians and law enforcers to bring out the heavy hammer and start using it. Even Barbara Boxer is calling for a nationwide anti-gang Task Force. And she wants enforcement, not midnight basketball.

My sense is, if you want to play at being a gunslinger, go find another gunslinger to play with. Don't ruin innocent lives and shoot the defenseless. That's not courage. It's slaughter and it brings shame, not respect.

When Jimmy "Character" Palma shot and killed the 5-year-old and 9-month-old Moreno children after he took care of Tito Aguirre and Lido Moreno, the Brothers had no stomach for that. Character got his in SQ as soon as they could get their hands on him. The outrage over killing innocents obviously isn't reserved strictly for the law abiding. Unfortunately, that message isn't being sufficiently enforced.

In the old days, some people invented logical ways of dealing with personal or factional enemies. In Europe, they even published books and manuals on how to do it right -- the Code Duello. They met at dawn with loaded pistols and settled problems face to face at 25 paces. May the best man win.

According to those old manuals, the choice of weapons was up to the challenger. It was guns, knives, swords or whatever. One of the wierdest duels ever took place inside a moving horse-drawn coach. The challenger chose knives and the opponent accepted. The terms were that the two would climb in and stab it out for the length of time it took the coach to circle a small park.

The coach went around once and stopped. Neither of the bloodied combatants had achieved satisfaction, so they went around once more. Second time around, still no satisfaction. So they went around a third time. At the end of the third trip, both parties had bled out and died. Sure it's crazy, but hey, it was their beef and they both had the courage to handle it mano a mano.

You've got to at least respect them for settling it man to man and having the brass balls to do it without dragging innocent people into their problem.

In the not too distant past, cowboys handled their business at high noon on Main Street with Peacemakers. First hit wins the fight. They had terms like "Bushwacker" for those who didn't handle their business correctly and the citizens strung them up not so much for killing, but for not doing it right.

So you have to ask yourself, is it possible that pasty aristocrats in frilly shirts and powdered wigs had more balls than a backshooting gangster who takes out people who have no part in a neighborhood or personal beef? Just something to think about.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It looks like nobody except the Governor wants to export CDC inmates to other states. Because of overcrowding and the threat of a Federal takeover of the State prison system, the quick solution seems to be sending inmates out of state to privately owned prisons. The activists like the Prison Law Office don't want it. And neither does the correction officer's union. It's rare when those two bodies find themselves in agreement on anything.

The CO's union, naturally, wants California to build more prisons and hire more COs, something that will naturally swell the ranks of the union and make it even more powerful than it already is. The CO union has a lot of juice in Sacramento and calls a lot of shots that shape policy. The activists don't want it because they claim it's runs counter to the State constitution.

And then, of course, the inmates and their overlords don't like it either because it erodes some of their power. A quote from the LA Times article this morning:

"Many others [inmates] were dissuaded from volunteering [for transer out of state], officials said, by prison gang leaders and rumors that a court-ordered prison cap could force the early release of thousands of convicts.

One of the weird wrinkles is that the owners of these out of state prisons played some CDC inmates a 20 minute commercial on how nice their prisons are. The commercial showed the good food, recreational activities, cable TV and other amenities. The pitch sounds so good, you have to wonder if they'll start selling time shares in the tiers. "It's not just prison, it's a vacation." "Tennessee prisons: more than doing time, it's an adventure." "The cells of New Mexico: a land of enchantment." I think we should put our heads together to come up with some catchy headlines and send them to the Governor.

Friday, January 26, 2007

It looks like Rocky D. meant it. Today's LA Times carries a story about Rocky D. and the LAPD shutting down one of Drew Street's many dope retail and wholesale outlets. For years that particular street was a 24/7 open air drug bazaar. It's also a street that was a center of gravity for Avenues and a thorn in the side of Northeast. The station is just a few blocks away. The king of Drew Street was sentenced on several murder charges last year along with some of his Avenues associates in Superior Court and all the carnales that graduated from AVES are in custody. One of the laws of physics, however, is that nature abhors a vacuum. One irony is that while Avenues takes the PR hit, a lot of the slinging on Drew wasn't even done by Avenues members. Most were BBs and some were pure independents operating under the umbrella. Looks like Rocky is bucking for a cape and a utility belt.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sometimes, you just gotta wonder. In today's LA Times, Rocky Delgadillo says that the wants to put all students in LAUSD in uniforms and shut down the "headquarters" of the ten worst gangs in the city. I'm not sure how he defines the term "headquarters" but in the accepted definition of that word, neighborhoods don't have headquarters. Not sure where he gets his information. Anybody out there have a clue what he's talking about? A public park? Somebody's back yard? Some guy's living room? Beats me. My feeling is that these are announcements made for public consumption addressed at the average citizen who doesn't know any better. It sounds reasonable in a press release but it's totally divorced from reality.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

In answer to a comment, I'm assuming it's going to make national news because I already fielded several emails from the heartland as well as NYC media. The BBC and Swedish Broadcasting has contacted me as well. I can only surmise those people are interested as well and that means International news. That's all I know.

Friday, January 19, 2007

In reference to comments regarding eating cheese and walking that shadow line in the middle of the boulevard, the fact is I catch it from both sides. Two quick examples. I had a Detective 2 tell me I was figuratively performing an act on a guy from the other side of the street. Too friendly with the opposition, according to him. Then a week later, the older brother of a guy I was talking to pretty much accused me of the same thing. Happens all the time. Occupational hazard. I've learned not to jump to conclusions until all the facts are in. Those who know, do know. Those who don't, will guess. Have a great weekend.
Oh boy, here it comes. In case you missed it, the suits and uniforms made their appearance on 204 yesterday after the "Truce" was signed by people who weren't fighting. The attendees included Mayor Tony V., Chief Bratton, Sheriff Baca, Janice Hahn and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller among others. When the head Fed shows up, you know the heat's on. The thrust of the press op was to announce a "campaign for the 'strategic dismantling' of two street gangs" according to the LA TIMES. In addition to the usual law enforcement presence, the Federal authorities will also send in the DEA and ATF. Yikes! One interesting approach is to put LASD and LAPD in the same radio car. It looks like the LAPD and LASD have also signed a truce because those two agencies have never gotten along all that well. The Feds will provide electronic surveillance (wiretaps) and obversation posts (eyeballs on the street). The Mayor offered carrots and sticks in the form of "services and suppression" to put, "you [204] out of business."

Throwing a kink in the works was Aqeela Sherrills who doesn't seem to know what he wants. He wanted after-school and youth programs but then criticized spending money. The Times quoted him saying, "They are going to spend millions of dollars even though Najee Ali already brought about a peace treaty." On the subject of the "peace treaty" Chief Bratton said on TV last night, "I don't believe in fairy tales." From all the indicators, the "truce" sure looked like a fairy tale because the shooters on both sides were no shows. And for sure there are shooters on both sides. Sherrils and Ali are probably a little pissed off they weren't invited to the press op party. In the game of power brokering, those two are more like gate crashers than mediators.

Why all this attention to a conflict that's been going on for years? For one, it's because the cat's out of the bag. The media, politicians and activists could only keep a lid on it for so long. Now it's getting national attention and while all the parties involved are genuinely disgusted with street violence, there's probably the feeling that they don't want this happening on their watch. If you're a politician with aspirations to higher office, you don't want a future political opponent pointing a finger and saying your record as a civic leader sucks. This is what happened to Mayor Jerry Brown in Oakland. Of course, he failed up. He was such a dismal failure riding herd on the street killings in Oakland, that he was rewarded by being elected the State's top cop. Go figure that one out.

Also, regardless of snow in Malibu, summer's coming and that means the kids will be taking the guns out of the gym lockers and bringing them home for the holidays. Is that too cynical? Maybe. But we've got all the ingredients brewing right now for major 415s, a.k.a riots. And riots don't just kill people, they kill political careers.

While the media totally ignored this, one of the flash points of the current race violence was when Demian Williams and his homies dragged Hispanics out of their cars, beat them, robbed them and then spray painted them. These were civilians, not soldados. The Big Homies put a major green light on Football and the Mara was only too happy to pick that up. It was lucky for him the LAPD got to Football first.

So 204 right now is the most recent participant in the whack-a-mole game. Welcome to Gaza.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The truce in Harbor Gateway is apparently a flop. The soldados from 204 who were supposed to show up this afternoon to sign a truce never made an appearance. Najee Ali never indicated who the other side to sign the truce was supposed to be. So the only people to sign the truce were people who weren't fighting to start with. In other words, civilians who weren't involved in the friction except as victims of the crossfire. So the truce must have been worded something like, "We promise to continue not shooting you." This is like Iceland declaring a truce with Lichtenstein. As much as we would have liked a different outcome, it looks like the entire peace initiative was a total figment of the public's imagination. Political myth, may we introduce you to reality? Tomorrow Tony V., Chief Bratton and others will travel to that neighborhood and will hopefully apply common sense to the infected area and continue application until the issue is resolved. Maybe.
With all the concerned parties looking hard at Connie Rice's jumbo gang study and more or less mulling it over, Rocky Delgadillo apparently has some reservations. He doesn't want to create a new giant bureaucracy. It's a legitimate concern but it may be a premature concern until they figure out how to run it, where to put it, and how it will work. We wondered why Rocky voiced reservations so quickly until we dug up an LA Times announcement from November 2006 in which Rocky named former Federal Prosecutor Bruce Riordan to head the LA City Attorney's gang prosecution and intervention efforts. When Rocky made that announcement he called Riordan his new "Gang Czar." It appears that Delgadillo was already laying the groundwork to have the new anti-gang organization attached to or under the supervision of the City Attorney's office. We wonder if Rocky would be objecting as strongly to a new bureaucracy if this new entity was placed directly under his supervision? One of the problem with politicians is that they're always looking to carve out little empires for themselves. It's called job security.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TRUCE ON 204th.
There's been an interesting development in Harbor Gateway. After all the airtime and ink in the aftermath of the Cheryl Green homicide, Najee Ali has apparently brokered a truce between 204th Street and parties that to date have not been named. The representative from 204, according to the article in the Daily Breeze, is someone named Jonathan O'Gorman. The Breeze states he's a 16-year veterano from that neighborhood. The details on the "truce" are vague but apparently everybody concerned wants to stop the threatened injunction and use the truce as a bargaining chip to get a community center and jobs. There's an awful lot not known about this. For instance, who's signing for the other side? And what are the penalties for breaking the truce, if any? Will they yank the jobs and demolish the center if somebody breaks the truce? Will they rat him out? And what's O'Gorman's horsepower for keeping the soldados in line? We wish all parties the best of luck and we're keeping our fingers crossed. Here's the link to the story.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I've been asked this about a thousand times and I'll just get it over with so we can move on. Jim asks:

Wallace, I have two questions, entirely out of genuine interest and not meant to critique my esteemed "pal". I thought that the inclusion of "Southern Soldiers" into your book's original title was sound on several fronts, but I amicably chided you on your decision to have dropped it, and instead go it alone with the ~MM~ Mexican Mafia.What were your reasons, or whims, on deciding this?
2. "Wally Fay", why did you choose the name Wally Fay? Is there any connection here to the Wally Fay character in the Joan Crawford vehicle "Mildred Pierce" of many years past? We are curious Wally, be a sport and tell. Bunch of us old time vatos here in SanFer, Borrego Valley, "Sylmar Ranch" and Kansas are dyin' to know.
Felice año nuevo to all.

Since you're asking, I used the name Wally Fay because every combination of Tony Rafael was already taken when I started using Blogger and Yahoo. A lot of people got there before me and I got shut out. So as I was casting about for some appropriate handle, I went to a default mode and searched the mental memory banks for something that connected the topic with earlier generations of LA noir writers. To me, the one guy that seemed to catch the spirit of this place better than the rest was James M. Cain. And as I started replaying his books and the movies made from them in my head, one guy popped out -- Jack Carson, to my mind, one of the greatest character actors ever to step in front of a camera. There's one other actor, Vito Scotti who ranks right up there with Carson. But it had to be Carson because he was connected to Cain and bingo -- Wally Fay from Mildred Pierce. "You know me, Mildred. I see an angle and I can't help cutting myself a piece of throat." Perfect. All this took about 30 seconds. And nobody had claimed the handle on Yahoo mail so I grabbed it.

So yeah, Wally from the movie and I wear the handle proudly. Send my your info Jim and you'll get a signed copy. You're the first guy to actually make the connection so you get a prize for being so well rounded.

As to the book, I still think Southern Soldiers is a cooler title but I was overruled. It wasn't my call. Those who spend the money call the shots. The publisher and the distributor thought Southern Soldiers sounded too much like a book about the Civil War. They didn't want to confuse the public and having to explain the title just makes the book harder to sell. It was a purely commercial decision.