Tuesday, November 17, 2009

After eleven years living and operating in Mexico, Rolando "Rolo" Ontiveros slipped back across the border in February and immediately started turning the heads of people who know him. It was only a matter of time before street intel would bring him to LE attention.

For those familiar with the Shady Detevis, Chuy Martinez, Stranger Turscak Federal indictment, Rolo was the only person named in the indictment that was not taken into custody. He fled to Mexico where, according to sources, he had family connections to high level traffickers. While there, he apparently owned a couple of nightclubs but continued to operate by proxy on this side of the border. Before he fled the indictment, Rolo was running a couple of used car dealerships in LA and running business on the streets. In the indictment, Rolo was named as being connected to the homicide of Richard Serrano, a rival to Chuy.

Like a number of his contemporaries, Rolo didn't sport visible tattoos or carry any other outward signs of being connected.

There's a strong suspicion that Rolo was finally driven back into the U.S. after he survived a hand grenade attack in Mexico. Unknown is the reason for the grenading but it's probably the outcome of intra-mural warfare between cartels. More proof that if the cops don't get you, your business rivals will.
The politicians in charge of our lives in Los Angeles handed every smuggler and dope dealer carte blanche to continue doing business. It's clear that the camel got his nose under the tent and slid his whole body into your sleeping bag.

What we heard yesterday was nothing that will impose any kind of control mechanism to determine where the cannabis originates, how it's supposed to be transported and how much unregulated money is exchanged across the counter.

With close to a thousand retail outlets slinging unmonitored dope it's the worst of all possible outcomes for law enforcement and the legal tax collectors and a huge boost for any criminal org that's already involved in drug smuggling.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


The massacre at Fort Hood this week has made headlines around the world. As it should. Contrast this event, however, to the massacre of union leader Margarito Montes Parra and 14 family members and associates in Sonora, Mexico last week. The Parra event barely broke through the background news noise. The Times and some other big papers covered it but it barely caused a blip on the average American's radar screen.

We're at a point where wholesale slaughter in Mexico is the norm rather than the exception. We've slowly been de-sensitized to Mexican drug violence to a point where it will take a 9/11 type event to finally wrap the public's head around the fact that Mexico is augering in like a lawn dart. And if it goes, we'll be sharing the border with a nation that resembles Afghanistan more than it does Canada.

While the Ft. Hood killings were the product of a single whack job (motivated by a combination of Islamist ideology and mental problems) the Parra massacre was clearly an orchestrated event involving numerous shooters, surveillance, intel and communications operators. In the rural area where Parra was killed, you can't rely on cell phones to stage a tracking and ambush operation. The killers probably had military-grade comms equipment and the necessary discipline and cold-blooded determination to kill not just Parra but his wife and children.

This kind of violence speaks of organization, training and singular intent. These are skills not easily obtained and require a great deal more training than required for a drive-by shooting or a carjacking. In the spectrum of violence, the Parra massacre, as cowardly as it was, ranks fairly high - just a few shades off a political assassination.

If history is anything to go by, the investigation into the Parra massacre will yield zero results. Those ultimately responsible will never be caught, or even named. And the stage will be set for an even bigger body count.

The big fear, or course is that this level of paramilitary organized violence will eventually seep across the border. As Mexico has been de-sensitized, we're been also being immunized to body counts. Eight years after the Twin Towers fell, we've got a significant portion of the population that has already given up the fight and urging the administration to do something other than kill the Islamists responsible for 9/11. If 3,000 plus dead isn't enough to sustain a vigorous search and destroy mission, how quickly will those same people shy away from a fight when only a dozen or so civilians are cut down by a cartel assassination squad on U.S. soil?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The USDOJ is releasing a three-page document that will clear up all the problems local governments are facing with the med pot clinics. The net result will be even more confusion and lack of specificity on exactly what constitutes legal and illegal production, transportation, distribution, possession, sales and use.

And where there's confusion, there will be profit.

Nobody seems to be able to articulate a clear policy that addresses the glaring holes that let illegal operators move their product through the "legal" outlets.

It's clear that local, state and federal governments do not want to be in the pot business. They don't even want to be in the pot regulation business for the simple reason that pot regulation will in all probability suck them right into the heart of the business. It's a case of being a little bit pregnant. In a business fraught with all the financial, criminal and political landmines of a recreational drug, the politicians see all too clearly the possibility of stepping on a five hundred pounder.

There's only two ways this can go. One is to completely legalize pot and remove all penalties for production, transport, sales etc. The other is to have the government license a few giant agri-businesses to grow enough pot to satisfy demand and regulate the hell out of it all the way to the end user.

Neither of those options are likely. And the middle course which is now being pursued isn't making anyone happy. Except some high volume smugglers, that is. This is going to get a lot more entertaining before it's all over. And the money will continue to flow into criminal orgs until somebody comes up with a brilliant idea.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yesterday ICE and the LAPD arrested nine members or associates of the Drew Street clique of Avenues on immigrant smuggling charges. The arrests took place on Avenue 34, in Holtville and Calexico. Clearly, the Guerrero faction of Drew Street doesn't limit its activities to dope and taxation. According to the ICE press release, this group was responsible for smuggling 200 immigrants a year into the US for prices ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 depending on the mode of transport and other factors.

Continuing on the theme of a recent post, it's becoming clear that the lines between traditional neighborhoods and the Emeros and their connection to International criminal orgs is becoming blurred. Immigrant smuggling has not been a core activity of neighborhood operations. That sort of operation was left to the border-based groups and freelance coyotes.

That no longer seems to be the case. Where there's money to be made, mutually beneficial alliances between criminal groups usually follows. These alliances my be temporary or they may be an indication of things to come. One could easily see the creation of hybrid gangs composed of locals and foreigners with an equally heterogeneous hierarchy composed of prison-based and cross-border upper level managers.

The founders of the current Eme saw in their future a super gang composed of the best from the street gangs. We may be seeing the beginning of a future supergang composed of the best from both sides of the border.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It should be obvious by now to even my most rabid detractors that this blog does not shoot from the hip. Years ago when I reported that a campaign was afoot to drive blacks out of certain neighborhoods, I was blasted by all and sundry for being everything from an alarmist, to a nutbag, to (according to one former editor of a weekly rag) "having an agenda for inciting racial hatred." In the fullness of time, the US Attorney filed a case against Avenues for precisely the campaign I had reported. Obviously I was on to something and events proved me correct. There's no joy in being right about something like that. Check out the latest: http://www.sgvtribune.com/ci_13528363#

Earlier this week, I posted an item about Mexican cartels moving product through the med pot dispensaries. Again I was blasted for "really losing it" and other assorted attacks that weren't fit for the comments section. It took all of two days for LA County's top cop to validate my claim.

Just for the record, I don't pull stuff out of thin air. I deal in facts. Think of this blog as a beautiful iceberg. The visible part is what appears online. But there's ninety percent under the surface that you don't see. That tiny visible part could not exist without a mountain of facts supporting it. For future reference, do not doubt me. If it appears on this blog, there's enough evidence behind it to choke a whale.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Well that didn't take long. According to the LA Times, LA District Attorney Steve Cooley just announced that every single medical marijuana store is breaking the law and is subject to prosecution.

Obviously, this is going to drive Med Pot advocates insane. Just when they thought they'd won the fight, it turns out victory went to their head. They were a little too celebratory in victory. The explosion of legal and quasi-legal dispensaries has correctly drawn the attention of law enforcement.Look at the ads in KUSH L.A. Magazine and it's obvious that the stores are flaunting the regulations, even as thin and ineffective as they are.

No matter where you stand on the issue, you have to admit that there aren't that many people suffering from glaucoma and undergoing chemo that you need 800 dispensaries moving hundreds of pounds a day to take care of legitimate needs. The sheer number of stores has rightly resulted in concern that there may be something going on here that has little to do with sick people.

It's become clear to anyone familiar with the production and distribution matrix that illegal dope is entering the system and putting money into the hands of organized criminal groups. That's a legitimate law enforcement concern. And as the County's chief law enforcement officer, Cooley has an obligation to act.

The pro Med Pot war cry is this - Legalize it and Tax it. Proponents argue that it's a legitimate drug used for serious medical problems. On the other hand, they also want Cannabis treated like tobacco and liquor. Those arguments taken together frankly don't make sense. Tobacco and liquor are not medicine.

If cannabis is medicine, as they claim, then it should be regulated, controlled taxed and monitored like medicine. But that's one argument missing from their lexicon. The pro potters aren't busting down the doors at the FDA demanding to regulated, poked, prodded, tested and evaluated to the same degree as Ambasol.

The Med Pot lobby can't have it both ways. You can't use the medical argument if you object to being regulated and controlled like medicine. And you can't ask for equal treatment as tobacco and booze if you claim you're in the pharma business.

Tobacco and booze are heavily regulated. And Chivas Regal never claimed to cure insomnia. You can't for instance, brew up some bourbon in the back yard tub and sell it at the local quicki-mart. Same thing with tobacco. There's an agency called the ATF you have to deal with.

As the current Med Pot regulations are written, anyboby with a med card and ten square feet of dirt can get into the cannabis business. A cash business free of taxation, regulation or control. Consequently, it opens up huge possibilities for corruption and illegal operations.

The Med Pot proponents really need to examine their premises. Are they purveyors of recreational drugs? Or are they medical providers? Right now it appears they want to be treated with the deference of medical caregivers but they want to do it on the honor system. We don't let Wyeth or Glaxo work that way.

This issue needs to be reset to zero and finessed by somebody with the brains to make pot available to the genuinely sick while preventing corruption and reduce the likelihood of criminal exploitation.
We might start calling them hybrids. Or maybe non-traditionals. Or maybe we can graft the two criminal orgs together and call the new entity a MEXTEL.

What we're talking about here is a developing phenomenon that first showed up along the border and making its way into our local neighborhoods. Based on information from reliable sources, border cops making their usual intercepts of migrant workers are also coming across Mexican nationals already tattooed up with U.S. gang identifiers. Basically these individuals already have some working or personal relationships with U.S. street gangs even though some of them have never been north.

At this point, it's an unclear dynamic as to who these trans-nationals are working for. Are they cartel-connected and working on behalf of the cartels in the U.S.? Or are they neighborhood connected and working on both sides of the border for U.S. shot callers? Or could it be both?

Since the early 1990s, some neighborhoods such as Pozole and Logan Heights in San Diego, there's been an easy alliance between U.S.-born and bred soldados and Associates hiring themselves out to the Cartels. Some of these people were purely free-lance operators but others had the full backing, support and even participation of high ranking shot callers in the U.S. So this latest phenomenon does have historical precedent. We may be seeing an expansion of that alliance in other neighborhoods in California and Arizona.

In Los Angeles, there's also been evidence of street operators and Associates serving two masters - one in the Bay and the other in Mexico. Sometimes they're serving both masters simultaneously because both overlords are involved in the same operation.

What we might be seeing here is the beginning of a higher order merger where it might be hard to separate the domestic and cross-border operators living and working under the umbrella of traditional neighborhood structures.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Now that the med pot experiment is well under way, it’s becoming clear that the current law has not done what it was intended to do. In some ways, it’s made the situation worse.

For years we’ve been hearing from the pro-dopers that the key to reducing drug related violence and take the profit motive out of drug smuggling was – wait for it – legalize it and tax it. Simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker.

Armed with this simplistic revelation, the LA City Council licensed hundreds of “caregivers” to grow dope and sell it to anyone with a doctor’s note. When bumper sticker policy hits the real world, however, the result is generally a Pandora’s box. Or a Pandora’s footlocker. In the case of LA's Med Pot, it's a Pandora’s cargo container.

Reality is a bitch. Which is why our elected officials choose to operate in fantasy land. The brains that run the city and passed the pot ordinance completely ate it the first time around. Med Pot 1.0 left so many holes in the system that you have to wonder if the real authors of the ordinance were guys like Chapo Guzman or the Humboldt County Pot Growers Association.

As currently formulated, the laws controlling the sale of “medical” pot are tailor made to promote criminality and create more of a problem than they were designed to prevent. For instance, there’s no monitoring of where the pot comes from. It’s SUPPOSED to be grown either on the premises of the store or some mysterious “secure” location. In reality those secure locations are places like Sinaloa, Mexico, the Los Padres National Forest or the verdant hills of Honduras.

There’s no indication in the ordinance as to who monitors the grow plots, how the cannabis is transported, who transports it or how big the plot is allowed to get before it becomes illegal. The loopholes are big enough for Mexican and domestic DTOs (Drug Trafficking Organizations) to drive vans full of weed to the allegedly legal dispensaries.

What the original ordinance accomplished was nothing less than hand the DTOs four hundred to six hundred legal retail outlets. Some LA City Council staff I spoke to called putting millions of dollars into the pockets of criminals an “unexpected consequence.” To anybody with a shred of common sense, this particular consequence was as unexpected as say, finding a Cosa Nostra connection in a North Jersey concrete company.

Legal pot did not reduce street sales and it didn’t cut the smugglers out of the loop. Instead, it just gave them a new market and increased their cash flow. And this is cash in the literal sense. The pot stores don’t like checks or credit cards. Cash leaves no paper trail. So nobody, including the IRS, knows how much these “caregivers” are making. And, since the retail proceeds aren’t even taxed by the city, state or federal government, the taxpayers are seeing zero benefit. That notion that DTOs could have written this ordinance doesn’t sound so far fetched. And we’re paying our elected officials to write a law that any drug smuggler would have happily written for free. When the aspirations of drug smugglers seem indistinguishable from the policies created by the City Council you have to wonder about politicians’ intelligence or their true intentions.

Med Pot 1.0 was a bust. Right now, LA is working on the 2.0 version. Like the first version, this one doesn’t address the looming holes that leave the system wide open to corruption. Is anybody in the City Council actually thinking?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's probably no other single neighborhood that's been hammered harder than Avenues. This week the US Attorney unsealed a 222-page indictment naming some 88 Avenues, Eme members, Associates and various camaradas for crimes ranging from drug dealing to murder.

These are big time RICO charges that can put a lot of people away for a very long time. Avenues is no stranger to RICO cases. Or massive media attention.

Since 1993 when the Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Crime first hit Avenues with RICO charges, the progress and setbacks for Avenues would look like a stock market graph - peaks, valleys, periods of no growth and wildly erratic movement.

The up and down movement, as per usual, is generally connected to how much attention the Emeros are paying to the neighborhood and the amount of dope available.

A cursory reading of the indictment reveals a few interesting details for the careful observer. I don't want this blog dragged into court in the coming trial so we won't call out individuals by name. But it's obvious that the family that's had the single most powerful influence in Avenues is still calling shots and collecting. Even though two of the siblings are behind bars, easy communication facilitated by at least one crooked cop has allowed one of the brothers to continue controlling Northeast. Also interesting is that the patriarch has been named as a defendant in this case and may likely join his two sons behind bars. For years, Dad racked up a lot of minor beefs but never caught a RICO case.

What's also interesting is the number of fairly new players that joined the ranks after the last major prosecution. These individuals were minor players ten years ago but have matured and grown into managerial roles. This is a typical dynamic. Avenues, and lots of other neighborhoods, have an amazing capacity to reconstitute after big cases. Frankly, even this blog thought that it would take a lot longer for AVES to come back. They beat the odds and predictions and did it with impressive speed.

One curious fact emerges from the indictment. One of the major players in this case was apparently a tutor at a well-known and highly-celebrated gang intervention group in Los Angeles. This person was running dope and guns, according to the indictment at least, while working at this intervention program supposedly teaching youngsters how to stay out of the life. Chances are, there won't be any blowback for this intervention group when the details come to light during the trial. Some of these groups appear to be bulletproof to public scrutiny of questionable behavior.

Sorry to be cryptic about all this but we don't want to prejudice a potential jury or get dragged into the discovery process prior to trial. Let's see if the the Times, LA Weekly, Daily News and the rest of the gatekeepers have the cojones to cover these compelling topics.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For those who keep up with such things, the recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine has an article on the cartels written by Guy Lawson. He's listed on the masthead as a Contributing Editor.

While there were some good things in the article, some of his assertions and conclusions were absolutely the product of bong hits.

Here's a link to my rebuttal:

In the interest of full disclosure, I contacted Rolling Stone to ask if I could submit a rebuttal but I got the usual silent treatment. I also tried the usual media outlets and they all said (rightly) that it's not their fight.

As the resounding silence on the ACORN scandal has convincingly demonstrated, the usual media is not the disseminator of news, it's the gatekeeper. It's not news, or significant, until they say it is. Remember the silence on the hate crimes and racially motivated homicides until the Federal case was filed against The Avenues in 2007. The media was able to ignore me, and others working the same stories, but it was hard to ignore the U.S. Attorney filing a major hate crimes case.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In a brilliantly researched piece for the LA Times, David Zahniser directed another blowtorch at Mayor Tony V's ethically challenged administration. This time the scandal involves a wind farm and a former aide to the mayor. Here's the link.


The usual suspects were named, the usual machinations were uncovered and the usual dissembling was articulated by the people who behave like French royalty while soaking up taxpayer billions.

It seems amazing that every time there's a questionable deal afoot, the same players seem to pop up - CIM, the DWP, mayoral aides, CALPERS, CRA-LA and various union operators.

Tony V. apparently doesn't talk to his friends who stand to make millions of dollars from city deals.
The mayor's spokesman said, "It's not part of the mayor's agenda to worry about people's private business dealings." It is apparently part of his agenda to benefit politically and otherwise when those friends make windfall profits from policies that he wants rammed down the taxpayer's throats.

Do yourself a favor and read Zahniser's piece in the Times. Then start doing Google searches for the operators involved and make up your own mind. Rational people will come to the conclusion that Tony V. is sitting on a ticking time bomb. When it goes off, enough political shrapnel will be unleashed to bury every member of the City Council, the heads of municipal employee pension funds and all the creeps that have attached themselves to schemes calculated to enrich the well-connected at the expense of tax payers.

Let's hear it for Zahniser and the LA Times. The Times doesn't always get it right. But when it does, it lives up to the very best of what newspapers are supposed to do.

Next step? Let's have Carmen Trutanich launch an investigation and muck out the stables at City Hall.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Based on past experience, you'd think that the administration and teaching staff at UC Berkeley would be blowing a gasket right about now. Two of their campus cops, both females, profiled the hell out of Philip Garrido and his two daughters when Garrido walked in to organize a lecture he wanted to inflict on the campus.

The two cops said that the girls appeared "robotic" and Garrido "didn't settle right with me." The two cops have obviously never taken a sensitivity class or been taught that being "judgmental" is anathema in a Progressive society. They were being cops. And they should be applauded for using gut instincts to ferret out a sick pervert.

Across academia, professors teach their captive audiences that profiling, especially when it comes to Middle Eastern terrorists, "doesn't work." They know this as an article of faith, the same way that Medeival "scholars" knew that witches float when you put them in water.

You'll notice that cops don't rush out to find the nearest Race, Class and Gender professor when they need to debrief a Sammy Gravano. The reason is that tenured professors live in the surreal world where no one can ever know anything with certitude. Their world is so complex and nuanced that they can back themselves into an epistemological corner, paralyzed to the point of moral and physical atrophy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Once again politicians are reinforcing defeat. According to today's L.A. Daily News, Tony Cardenas and Maxine Waters announced a new bill (H.R. 3526) to "professionalize" gang intervention work and make an effort to make sure that taxpayer money isn't being skimmed, stolen or wasted.

You can set your watch by these periodic announcements that "this time, we'll get it right." The new bill comes on the heels of news that some intervention workers have been rolled up in criminal investigations. In the past few years we've had Hector "Big Weasel" Marroquin and his children, Mario Corona, Marlon "Bow Wow" Jones and Alex Sanchez as poster boys for what can go wrong with gang workers.

If we go back into deep history, that list of violators gets very long indeed.

We haven't heard exactly how this new bill will be any better than the dozens of bills previously passed. The most curious sentence in the Daily News story is, "The congresswoman (Waters) said her bill will use Rodriguez's Valley-based Communities in Schools program as a model for other cities." If you recall, Mario "Big Spyder" Corona was a Communities in Schools intervention worker when he was caught with a pound of meth in 2007. The question is, how bad are the other programs if this is the one they picked as a model?

No doubt, this blog will be accused, (yet again) of throwing all gangsters in the "no hope" category and left to survive on their own. For the record, I absolutely believe in redemption. I have to believe it because I've seen it too many times for it not to be a reality. My main objection is the spending of taxpayer money on these programs. As with most government programs, once they're up and running, and they develop a constituency, and there's a bureaucracy in place whose purpose will dissolve if the programs go away, it's almost impossible to pull the plug. If a program is de-funded, the losers are the most protected and coddled sector of the population - government workers.

My objection would be pointless if these programs were hugely successful. But they're not. The Advancement Project studied these programs for a year and couldn't find a single gang member who walked away from the life. This new bill is nothing less than an admission that the programs don't work. So the answer, according to Waters and Cardenas, is to continue to spend money on them.

Let's do something radical. Let's get some private funding from Tom Hayden, Bill Gates, Ed Asner, The Ford Foundation, The Annenberg Trust, The Pacifica Foundation and other activist groups. Let them create the model, fund it and run it. If they can make it work, I'd have no objection to matching private money with taxpayer money.