HAZARD GRANDE BACK IN THE NEWS.
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.