[sc name=”In The Hat Pretext”]

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2003

BLACK ON BLACK VIOLENCE

In the LA TIMES SUNDAY OPINION section, KERMAN MADDOX has a piece on BLACK ON BLACK VIOLENCE. MADDOX teaches political science at LOS ANGELES SOUTHWEST COLLEGE and is on the board of directors of FIRST AME CHURCH. He opens with the murder of one of his students, LEE DENMON, who returned to his neighborhood after graduating college with the intention of doing something to help the community. This admirable young man was killed by a black gangster in an all too familiar case of mistaken identity. MADDOX contrasts the total lack of response to this murder to the response generated when an INGLEWOOD cop slammed DONOVAN JACKSON onto the hood of a cop car. While not condoning police abuse, he rightly asks why the nationwide flap over a body slam by a cop and the nonchalance over the “routine killing of young black males by other young black males.”He also states that he’ll probably be in hot water with AFRICAN AMERICAN leaders for stating this but “I’m tired of being politically correct, because that has not helped the problem.” In a statement that makes him sound a little like LARRY ELDER he says, “It’s time to quit blaming everybody else for the problems of violence in our communities. We need churches to launch a crusade to discuss individual responsibility.”

This will clearly take some doing. His piece brought to mind the WARREN OLNEY remote broadcast from the AME CHURCH I attended last year. On the panel that night OLNEY had the REV. CECIL MURRAY, CHIEF BRATTON and a young LATINO ex-gangster who was steered out of the gang life by one of AME’S many programs.

What struck me about that meeting was the public reaction in the Q and A session that followed the broadcast. I got the surreal impression that while the people in the audience were all residents of the area, they seemed to inhabit an alternate universe. One self-described community leader asked BRATTON why there weren’t more cops in the neighborhood and why the response times were so long. He got the usual answer about staffing levels, budgets etc. BRATTON also said the, “LOS ANGELES is one of the most underpoliced cities in the country, if not the most underpoliced.” He said he needs 15,000 cops to do an adequate job of crime suppression.

A few minutes later, he got another question to the effect that there were too many cops on the street and why were they always harassing and stopping young people for no reason at all. Another guy chimed in that the police were nothing more than an occupying force and that they were the street enforcers in some Trilateral conspiracy to funnel black kids to jails and keep the prison industrial complex operating. In a frightening indicator of how deep that idiocy is ingrained in some people in the black community, that guy got a round of applause and attaboys.

So here we have two deeply held convictions that there are simultaneously too many cops and not enough cops in the black community. To quote MADDOX, “What gives?”

Another question from a woman also got a round of applause. She wanted to know why the cops don’t do a better job of instilling positive values in young black males. She suggested that when a kid gets in trouble, the cops should take them under their wing and guide them to a better life instead of just throwing them in jail. This is the COPS AS SOCIAL WORKERS WITH GUNS syndrome. BRATTON responded politely. In a roundabout way he suggested that it wasn’t the job of the LAPD or any police department to educate young people. That’s the job of schools, churches and parents. That got hisses from quite a few people in the room. The REV. MURRAY looked like he’d just been informed of some bad lab results. BRATTON took that in stride and tried to keep the conversation on some level of reality.

After that night, I wondered how many generations it would take for those absurd attitudes to be filtered out of black communities. And I realized what an uphill struggle people like CECIL MURRAY are shouldering on a daily basis. And I was awed by the courage people like him display by getting up every morning, knowing that the day will bring only tiny victories, if any. Lesser men would probably be driven to despair. Or just give up and go fishing. The REVEREND MURRAY just keeps at it with a happy heart.

From an intellectual or public policy basis, I’m not a fan of government relying on religious institutions to cure social problems. But my mind is slowly changing. We’ve tried everything else and the problem has only gotten worse. The power of black churches to mobilize public sentiment and instill positive attitudes cannot be denied. We have only to remember the big players in the civil rights movement. So why not try the approach that MADDOX proposes in his OPED piece?

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2003

FEEDBACK ON “BAD” NEIGHBORHOODS

My response to JILL LEOVY’s piece about “bad” neighborhoods generated two responses over at LAOBSERVED.COM, the excellent LA media site run by KEVIN RODERICK. It’s a daily stop for me and I alerted KEVIN that INTHEHAT had something to say about LEOVY’S SLATE.COM piece. He graciously linked my comments on his site and hence the responses over there. If you want to see the two comments in the original, go to LAOBSERVED.COM and scroll down to the mention of INTHEHAT.The first comment by MEXREP agreed with my observations without reservation. Another reader named MR. RICEY agreed generally but had some observations of his own which I quote. “He [meaning me] overlooks the economic reality of many people, particularly kids, in those neighborhoods who don’t have a fucking thing to eat in the house, crappy clothes, broken toys and their parents are AWOL in prison or on the street while a poor granny tries to do her best for 9 kids in a tiny house. It’s all too common, too, and it certainly feeds the cycle of crime and despair.”

While I like people to agree with me, I love when people force me to refine my observations and think harder. All of what MR. RICEY says is true. Children, who are the most vulnerable and heartbreaking of all victims, certainly are by definition poor. Or at least as poor as their families. Unfortunately, as MR. RICEY alludes to, these children are victiminized by the very people that brought them into the world and are supposed to be providing for them. My point was, that it’s not this vague notion of “society” or the real notion of “poverty” that victimizes them. Society, at least the one in which I live, provides a level of plentitude and opportunity not found anywhere else in the world. Parents who want to do better for their children are not condemned to the sort of can’t-get-out-of-it poverty found elsewhere in the world.

Kids in “bad” neighborhoods are victimized mostly and most profoundly by their parents (or lack thereof). In other countries it’s the whole society that screws kids. Think of the AMERASIAN kids of VIET NAM, the FERAL BABY GANGS of the FAVELAS, the UNTOUCHABLE kids of INDIA or the kids living in TIJUANA shacks. In those cases, the kids are deeply scarred from a young age and there’s not a single ray of hope in their lives because even if their parents “wanted” to be better providers and caretakers (which most in TIJUANA clearly do and vote with their feet), social mobility is non existent. The parents there are just as screwed as their kids. Hope is non existent and in a situation like, I’m surprised there hasn’t been an armed revolution, let alone a youth gang problem.

Back to our own BARRIOS and HOODS. While our safety net with regard to kids is imperfect at best, the avenues of improvement for the parents are there and available to anyone. I won’t go into the anecdotal success stories of immigrants making good. But they’re abundant.

If you read the ART BLAJOS book, BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT or MY BLOODY LIFE: THE MAKING OF A LATIN KING by REYMUNDO SANCHEZ, you get the message that the events that scarred them happened at home, not on the street and not because they didn’t have “things.” The gang life was a result of lousy homes, not a cause. These books also illustrate that in each of their lives, SOCIETY did intervene to the very limits of legality and practicality. In BLAJOS and SANCHEZ’ case, they were taken out of bad homes and put into foster homes. BLAJOS says that he got “armloads” of toys for CHRISTMAS from department stores and generous donors. And he and others from the YA were invited into upper class homes for Christmans dinners. And you know what? He stole stuff from those houses because as much as he wanted the toys, he wanted his parents to be doing this for him. Not strangers. He wanted loving parents. And there’s no government program that makes those.

Almost every gangster I’ve ever interviewed has been through the foster home system. Foster homes, if we remember, were supposed to be the humane and smarter alternative to the state-run orphanages.

Generally speaking, every street gangster in trouble with the law is a graduate of that system as well as the youth correctional system, diversion programs, drug rehab programs and other programs up to and including YOGA, THEATER ARTS and TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION. Believe it or not, those programs are readily available right here in LA COUNTY for kids in trouble. And I’m all for anything that works. Unfortunately, very little works to ameliorate a situation casued by lousy parents.

My contention is that despite the best intentions and the most enlightened programs, there’s no government program that will adequately substitute for a solid, stable, loving family.

The best we can do under the current system is take the kids away and provide them with something that at best isn’t as much of a mind fuck as their family lives. There’s more that can be done. But then we get into an area of individual freedom and giving government the kind of power over parental rights that’s currently scaring the bejeezus out of people who look at the PATRIOT ACT as the demise of the US CONSTITUTION. How much power do we want to give the government when addressing the problem of lousy parents who are victimizing their children and will eventually turn them into tomorrow’s predators?

So yeah, poverty in a very general sense, may conribute to criminal behavior to some degree. But my contention is that it’s not the lack of money or NINTENDOS. For the most part, criminality is the result of the violence, neglect and abuse children experience at the hands of mom and/or dad long before they pick up a gun.

I’d like to hear more on this. Especially from young people who are on the front lines and facing this situation for real and not from the theorizing comfort of my centrally air conditioned house. Then again, they probably don’t have a computer and web access.

FEEDBACK ON MAYHEM MUSIC

In an earlier post about SURENO RAP, I asked the question why that genre wasn’t getting the same regular coverage as BLACK GANGSTER RAP, especially from the ALT MEDIA who seem to have a charter to seek out the cutting edge and the new. I received an excellent answer from reader HENRY SHEEHAN who has written for alternatives for 25 years. I won’t paraphrase because he makes a solid point that makes sense and does it better than I could. He states:”Editors at these paper tend to be middle-aged and white themselves, and already wrapped up in one particular school of music or another. They’re not affirmatively keeping SURENO coverage out of their papers, but their lifestyles and tastes make it very difficult for [them] to encounter it or a young Hispanic writer who is interested in it. In my personal experience, these papers never engage in any sort of outreach to members of minority communities and, though they’d probablly deny it, their staffs don’t have terribly different perceptions of those communities than anyone else does.”

This sounds like a thoroughly reasonable explanation. I asked for someone to answer the question for me and Mr. Sheehan did. Thank you.

I also got another response from a SURENO RAP fan who wondered where the hell I’d “been at” for not mentioning POCOS PERO LOCOS, the webcast that specializes in SURENO RAP and the fact that POWER 106 here in LA runs POCOS PERO LOCOS (a SURENO RAP show) on SUNDAY NIGHTS BETWEEN 8:00 and 10:00 PM. It’s hosted by KHOOL AID and JOHNNY CUERVO (check out POCOSPEROLOCOS.COM). I should have mentioned that, and I plead guilty to not being more complete. But that sort of speaks to my point. With LA’s humungous LATINO population and all those SURENOS out there, isn’t it odd that there’s only a single 2-hour radio show once a week on the dial? With the body of SURENO RAP work extant, a station could easily fill a four hour daily show and get nowhere near as repetitive as the eye-glazing boredom of classic rock stations.

You SURENOS out there, and I know you read this, let me know what you think.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2003

“IS THIS THE BAD NEIGHBORHOOD NOW, WALLY?”

In a story that just ran on SLATE (here’s the URL slate.msn.com/id/2090015/entry/2090191/) JILL LEOVY of the LA TIMES makes an interesting observation. Actually, she makes many interesting observations but I’ll address only this one. I’ll get to the others at another time. She talks about covering crime in SOUTH CENTRAL LA and about the neighborhoods she visits and drives through. And she says this:”It’s hard to convey the tranquility and normalcy of these neighborhoods — the skateborading kids, the Pizza Huts, the garage sales — while still presenting a truthful picture of their crime problems. I fact, what many people in Los Angeles think of as this city’s ‘bad neighborhoods’ are in many way indistinguishable from those with milder reputations. They brim with aspiration and middle-class comfort, even as they distill every kind of despair.”

I don’t know how long LEOVY has been going into these neighborhoods or if she’s made this observation before, but it reminded me of the drive with my two DANISH visitors, MADS and KLAUS. I’d been driving them through SOUTH CENTRAL and then we made our way to NORTHEAST, avoiding the freeways to give them a taste of what LA was like at the street level.

We stopped in the hills above GLASSELL PARK where we had a view of a hazy downtown. It was dusk and there was something of a purple sky and LA was trying to do it’s best to remind the two DANES that it was the inspiration for BLADE RUNNER. Lights in the houses began winking on, and people were coming home and parking their RANGER pickups and MITSUBISHI MONTEROS and MADS finally asked “Is this the bad neighborhood now, Wally?”

I told him we’d been driving through “bad” neighborhoods all day. Both of them sort of gave me the fish eye like I was trying to pull something over on them. They were dubious. They mentioned things like the houses being in decent shape and the yards well kept and a lot of the cars on the street were new and there were BIG WHEELS in those yards, and some swing sets and PATIO CLASSIC barbecue grilles and all the rest of the stuff we take for granted, even in “bad” beighbohoods. But to a EURO these are not the indicators of poverty or despair. It’s what they wish they had. MADS told me that he’s 31 and makes a good living with the DANISH BROADCASTING COMPANY but he can’t afford to buy a car. They have a 300% luxury tax on cars. So a $14,000 COROLLA in the US is something like $42,000 in DENMARK. When I indicated to him that in the US even a guy with a steady job at MACDONALD’S can probably get a good used car for under $10,000 he said something to the effect that it made him feel poor and underprivileged.

They were still giving me the dubious look so I took them over to the corner of YORK BOULEVARD and ALDAMA. And I indicated that in a five block radius, I could point out half a dozen murder locations and countless assaults and robberies. In a five minute drive I could show him over a dozen murder sites that I knew of. There were certainly more that I just never researched. I drove them past a house owned by a legendary MEXICAN MAFIA dynasty that was three generations deep. The house was midly neglected but hardly any different from the other houses on the street. And yeah, there we kids on bikes and grandmas on the porches and people socializing and there wasn’t a stumble-bum wino or addled heroin addict in sight and there weren’t feral dogs eating corpses or women selling their babies to buy food.

If what we have in these underprivileged neighborhoods is poverty, it’s uniquely AMERICAN poverty. Poverty unrecognizable as such anywhere else in the world. This is not the hovel poverty of HAITI or the living in a shack made of cut up oil cans of MOGADISHU or even the packed tenements of NEW YORK at the turn of the century. This is the poverty of driving a car a few years older than you’d ideally like to have. Or the poverty of owning only one pair of NIKES as opposed to a pair for each day of the week or only having one or two games for the GAMEBOY instead of a whole drawer full.

In CODY SCOTT’S famous book MONSTER, he states that he grew up on a nice street with trees lining the sidewalks and clean, unbroken pavement and that his mother’s flower garden was the envy of the neighborhood and that she always had the money to buy him nice clothes and the expensive cologne that he liked to wear to impress the females. As he admits, it really wasn’t the lack of any material possessions that drove him to join a gang and kill. In a candid passage, he says that gang banging was exciting. It was a rush.

I remember once interviewing the family of a gang murder victim. They lived in a small but well maintained rental house. Their son was loosely affiliated with a gang and had been killed when he flashed a gang sign at rivals. The family had had some tough times. The father couldn’t find work, the mom had never worked and the other kids were too small to work. But in the living room they had a monster of a big screen TV. And there was a new iMAC hooked up to a BROTHER printer and they had web access and cable. They owned two vehicles — an 8-passenger van for family trips and a smaller sedan to commute to work. When the dad could get work, that is. In a roundabout way during the course of the interview, I steered them to a question about poverty and they believe themselves to be poor and lacking many advantages. And I’m convinced that they really do believe that they’re poor. But they’re poor only in relation to some ideal they see on TV. To most of the industrialized world they’re doing okay. To most of the rest of the world, they’re filthy rich and overprivileged.

Maybe it’s that phenomenon of walking into a strange house and noticing the smell that the residents have long gotten used to. To MADS and KLAUS, even the worst of our hoods seem fairly benign and frankly far better than they had been led to believe. And maybe that’s why it took them no time flat to realize this and it’s taken LEOVY quite a bit longer.

As I’ve said before, poverty is not necessarily at the root of gang crime in LA and in the US. At least it’s not the kind of soul-grinding poverty the rest of the world knows all too well.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2003

MAYHEM MUSIC
We recently got an email from a female reader who wanted to know why the Hispanic gangster culture hasn’t produced the same kind of gangster rap as the BLACK gangs like the BLOODS and CRIPS. I answered her by saying, in a very nice way of course, that she was clearly out of the loop on this topic. The fact is, there’s a huge body of Hispanic gangster rap music. And it’s been around for a long time.In case other readers were wondering the same thing, I can direct you over to SURENORAP.COM. I’m not sure who runs the site or whether they’re just distributors or producer/distributors but they have a long, long list of CDs available, all of them falling under the heading of gangster rap, specifically SURENO rap. We’re assuming that they don’t include rappers from the NORTHSIDE on their roster.While a lot of SURENO RAP I’ve listened to over the years is pedestrian, predictable and barely worth listening to, there are a few artists who stand out by virtue of their creative lyrics and sound. If you want to get your feet wet in this genre, the artist who is probably most worthy of attention is KNIGHTOWL. What began for In The Hat as pure research into SURENO gangster rap evolved, thanks to KNIGHTOWL into a grudging admiration. The guy is talented and knows how to craft words and create sounds worth listening to — even if you don’t like what he’s saying. Listening to KNIGHTOWL is an education in the gang life and a legit music experience.Granted the guy is raw and in your face. Some tracks from his KNIGHTMARES CD should give you an idea of what he raps about. Here’s a sample of tracks: THIS BE SOME GANGSTA SHIT, I WANNA FUCK ME SOME HOES, IN LOVE WITH A GANGSTA and WE DO THIS FOR THE STREET. From the SHOT CALLER CD we have FOOLS YELL FOR MERCY, STILL BANGIN, BALDHEADED FELONS and I MURDER MUTHA FUCKAS. These tracks are not for the squeamish but it’s interesting music and in my unprofessional, non-music-critic opinion, this is as good if not better than most of the BLACK gangsta rap.Another CD worth considering is a compilation called ENTER THE DARKROOM that blurbs itself as the tightest tracks from 1989 to 1995. There’s some solid tracks in there and some not so, but it gives the interested listener a sampling of styles. Other CDs that might be worth your while are LIL CUETE’s THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY OUT and ESTILO SURENO’S BLUE RAGGIN’ SURENOS.What’s odd about SURENO RAP is the almost complete lack of airplay. At least compared to BLACK gangster rap. I’ve looked for SURENO RAP all over the dial in the LA radio market and I’ve never come across anything like these CDs. If anybody out there knows any different, I’d like to know about it.As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a SURENO rap star that has broken out of the underground the way SNOOP and other black acts have. Even the so-called ALTERNATIVE papers like the LA WEEKLY has never done anything resembling a fair job of covering SURENO RAP. This probably has a lot to do with the lack of airplay and the fact that MTV has completely ignored this genre. Or it might have to do with a lack of guts. We’re fairly sure that even underground radio or the politically correct college radio stations may not want to deal with the fallout if they play tracks like I JUST WANNA FUCK ALYSSA MILANO (DUKE, THE BARRIO LOVE album) and TASTE FOR MURDER (DEE-ROLL, from the P.F.L. album). Is the “alternative” media being timid, or even spineless by ignoring this music? You be the judge.Also, Sureno Rap has yet to produce the equivalent (at least in sales and market penetration) as DEATH ROW.Frankly, the lack of airplay and exposure on media like MTV is baffling and I suspect it has to do with some subtle form of racism. I may be wrong and I’m willing to eat my words but somebody will have to show me why BLACK GANGSTA RAP has found wide acceptance (they teach TUPAC lyrics in college courses these day) and SURENO RAP is relegated to the underground.As always, your comments and observations on this are welcome.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2003

LUCK RUNS OUT FOR LUCKY SALDANA

This week, in DEPARTMENT 103 in the CCB, GILBERT “LUCKY” SALDANA was found guilty on one charge of murder and one charge of attempted murder. The prosecutor was DAVID GELFOUND from the HARD CORE GANG unit while the defense counsel was MICHAEL RUSSO, a public defense lawyer. The short version of the story is that SALDANA rolled up on a car that contained JONATHAN PADRON and JOSE NOYOLA, both alleged members of CYPRESS. Words were exchanged and either PADRON or NOYOLA said “Fuck the AVENUES” to SALDANA. At which point, SALDANA opened fire, killing PADRON and wounding NOYOLA.We’ll have more details on this case in later postings. But there’s a back story here that interested parties should find illuminating and will hopefully deepen your understanding of the workings of the AVENUES and street gangs in general.

While this case will finally put LUCKY SALDANA behind bars, he’s been on In The Hat’s radar screen for a very long time. From what we know, LUCKY wasn’t on any kind of career path. For instance, he hadn’t yet graduated to collecting taxes or working on a crew. Apparently, he was too much of a banger and wasn’t trusted to run things in any kind of organized way. At least this is what we hear. Anyone with contrary info on this is invited to contact us.

Way back in 1999, which seems like the JURASSIC AGE in the gang world, LUCKY was running with three other AVENUES homies – (deleted), MERCED “SHADOW” CAMBERO and JOSE “CLEVER” DELACRUZ. On the night of APRIL 18th of that year, the four were riding around in a stolen van throwing up tags, drinking and basically keeping an eye out for interlopers from other gangs. They even went into a building claimed by FROGTOWN and put up some tags but they couldn’t draw out any enemies. The four basically threw a gang fight but nobody came.

Then at around 3:30 AM, they came across KENNY WILSON. WILSON was a 38-year-old male black from ONTARIO, CA who was visiting friends at 338 NORTH AVENUE 52. WILSON was parking his friend’s CADILLAC when the van with LUCKY and company turned the corner. LUCKY reportedly said to the others, “You guys want to kill a nigger?” Apparently they did.

The four AVENUES gangsters dismounted, ran along the off side of the parked cars on the street and when they got level to WILSON, they opened up. They were armed with a 12 gauge, a 9 mm, a .357 and another handgun which is believed to be a .380. They basically turned the car WILSON was driving into a sieve. WILSON took one round to the base of his skull and died within minutes.

The IO on the WILSON murder was DETECTIVE ANDY TEAGUE from NORTHEAST. For a year the case went nowhere.

A month after the WILSON killing, (deleted) and SHADOW CAMBERO were together again. This time they were on the corner of FIGUEROA and AVENUE 43. This location was a mere stroll from the scene of WILSON’S homicide. It was 1:00 AM and (deleted) was throwing up a big tag on a wall across the street from the JACK IN THE BOX. CAMBERO was across the street with a police scanner to his ear and a his other hand on a gun in his pocket. CAMBERO was the tailgunner just in case another gang objected to the AVENUES tag.

As (deleted) was tagging the wall, a car with four people (two men, two females) pulled up to the JACK IN THE BOX. One of the women was an off-duty LAPD officer named JEANETTE GARCIA. GARCIA was in the front passenger seat. The four in the car couldn’t help but stare at (deleted) tagging the wall. When (deleted) saw that he was being observed, he walked over to the car and challenged them. He repeated “You want to get blasted?” several times.

OFFICER GARCIA instructed the driver to get out of there. She put her service pistol on her lap. Her intention was to leave the area and phone in for assistance. As her car turned onto FIGUEROA, CAMBERO who was across the street pulled his handgun and began firing at the car. In fact, he chased after the car, shooting as he ran, as the driver was pulling away. OFFICER GARCIA pushed herself out of the passenger window and returned fire. She fired six rounds without effect. She said that the shooter, “Seemed really startled that somebody was shooting back.” No doubt. CAMBERO broke off the attack and ran.

Nobody was hit that night. It was a FRIDAY.

The next MONDAY morning, DETECTIVE RICK ORTIZ was given a copy of the report of that incident. An accurate description of (deleted) was in that report and it took ORTIZ about ten seconds to recognize that description as (deleted). ORTIZ had known (deleted) since (deleted) was a YG in AVENUES.

To make a long story short, ORTIZ took (deleted) into custody and questioned him about the JACK IN THE BOX shooting. (Deleted) copped to being there but said that CAMBERO had done the shooting. Then he changed his mind and said that he was there but refused to implicate CAMBERO as the shooter. Regardless, (deleted) was charged with 4 counts of attempted murder and was eventually convicted. He was sentenced to 27 years.

A year after (deleted) had been sent away for the four attempt counts, he contacted authorities and volunteered that he had some information on a murder. The victim was a black guy on NORTH AVENUE 52. NORTHEAST DETECTIVES JOHN BERDIN and ANDY TEAGUE went to interview (deleted) and the tale of WILSON’s killing rolled out of (deleted) as described above.

BERDIN and TEAGUE informed (deleted) that none of his information would remove even one day from his sentence. It was way past the 120 day window of opportunity after sentencing that (deleted) could have used to do himself some good. (Deleted) apparently didn’t care. He told his story and signed his name to the statement.

Based on that information, SALDANA and CLEVER were taken into custody. They were both told that (deleted) had rolled on them. SALDANA denied everything. CLEVER, who was not so clever after all, said that yeah, he was there the night of WILSON’S murder and yeah, he was shooting at the car, but no he was not aiming at WILSON. He was just shooting at the car.

In the world of law, just admitting that he shot at the car was all that CLEVER had to say to make him eligible for a murder charge. Just to rub it in, CLEVER was also charged with a hate crime. On FEBRUARY 25, 2002, almost three years after WILSON’s killing, one of his killers was convicted of the murder. CLEVER was sentenced to 45 to life.

LUCKY SALDANA on the other hand, was let go early on. There was no other corroborating evidence to tie SALDANA to the WILSON murder. And the word of one participant against another isn’t enough to proceed with a prosecution. There needs to be additional evidence. In CLEVER’s case, the additional corroborating evidence was his own statement.

CAMBERO was never found. Rumor is that he’s living in MEXICO and occasionally comes back to AVENUES.

Of the four people who killed WILSON, only CLEVER is serving time for the crime. (deleted) is in prison on the GARCIA et al shooting. CAMBERO is still at large. And this week SALDANA was convicted on the PADRON murder. SALDANA is scheduled for sentencing on NOVEMBER 18.

There’s an epilogue to this that may evolve into yet another case involving the four AVENUES gangsters who killed KENNY WILSON. The LA office of the FBI and the US ATTORNEY are currently conducting an investigation of the WILSON homicide. The goal is to prosecute the four on FEDERAL HATE CRIME charges. More details on that as they become available. But now, as the saying goes, you know the rest of the SALDANA story.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2003

IT AIN’T THE POVERTY
It’s always been In The Hat’s contention that poverty alone is not the prime indicator in a young person’s participation in drugs, gangs or violence. In more cases than we can name, we’ve seen average middle class kids (Hispanic, Anglo, Asian or whatever) dive head first into the gang life. And the jump was usually fueled by some form of chemical stimulant. In this SUNDAY LA TIMES, there’s a story about a 22-year-old Laguna Niguel resident who was using her parents’ 5000 sq ft mansion to cook up crystal meth. The parents are apparently going through a divorce and they were living in two of their other houses and had no clue that their daughter, ADRIEAN VOLZ, was using the house as a meth lab. The article also mentions RENEE DEMONTREUX, a REDONDO BEACH college student who tossed over her upper middle class life and took up with gangsters and criminals thanks to her meth addiction. VOLZ apparently started running with the NAZI LOW RIDERS prison gang after she got hooked on meth.One anecdote does not make a definitive sociological study. But what do we make of a filthy rich twenty-something meth tweaker who should know better? Was it poverty that led her down the path to the NAZI LOW RIDERS? Obviously not. It was probably the meth. But why does a person who has everything to the third power even bother with meth? Because it’s a high. And the high transcends class, wealth and education. And maybe she had the pony and the clowns on trampolines for birthday parties and the Malibu Barbie with every accessory known to man but was still hollow inside. Well, who cares? The fact is, getting high causes all manner of stupid behavior.And this leads us inevitably to street gangs. One of the first tools of control veteran gangsters use on the PEE WEES (a street term for the 12 and 13-year-old wannabes) is liquor and pot. They get the kids high. And they keep them high. And when you get a 13-year-old acting stupid, you can get him to do anything up to and including murder. Every gangster is a user. Some use more than others, but they all do it. Even the CARNALS, who by the rules of the EME are not supposed to ingest addictive narcotics, are users. Drugs are the basic unit of currency in the gang culture. It’s the social solvent and social leveller that makes a 22-year-old daughter of millionaires the equal of a TECATO who’ll sell out every CARNAL in the BAY to get high. Drugs are also the cornerstone of criminal organizations like the MEXICAN MAFIA. Take away the drugs, and there is no gang culture. Take the profit motive out of drugs, and the gangs disappear faster than a pack of LUCKIES at an AA meeting. Without the profits from drug sales and street taxes, the EME would be a toothless lion, roaring away in harmless desperation behind bars.But for now, the profit motive is there and the gangs are there. So what do you do about a kid who wants to get high and maybe starts running with other kids who get high and carry guns and they start shooting at other groups of kids who also get high and carry guns? You can tell him (or her) to just say no until you turn blue and your tongue falls out. And guess what? They’ll get high if they want to. Society can’t stop it. All the social programs in the world are not going to stop a 16-year-old from getting blasted on whatever he can get his hands on and hanging out with other 16-year-olds. And all the color TVs, german sports cars and wild-on-the-beach vacations to CABO won’t stop somebody from turning a mansion into a biker meth lab.It ain’t just the poverty. And it ain’t just the ennui of the idle rich.It seems to me that the first thing that has to happen is for us to stop making excuses for bad behavior. Poverty is no excuse. Being filthy rich and bored is no excuse. You are born into an imperfect world and just because things don’t go your way is not a reason to get high and start capping rounds at a carload of equally disappointed teenagers. And the second thing we need to do is take the profit out of drugs. The third thing we need to do is grow a spine about abusive parents and start taking away children from people who have no business bringing them into the world. We already do that to some degree, but I believe this is an area for greater exploration and some creativity. And I haven’t gotten all the way through in my thinking about this, but maybe we should find a way to keep unstable and irresponsible people from having kids in the first place. Yeah, I know. This sounds like BIG BROTHER social engineering. The nightmare of liberals, conservatives and everyone else except maybe Hitler’s LEBENSBORN creeps. But we can’t stuff the gunpowder back in the pipe bomb after it blows up. If we want to solve the youth violence and gang problem, we have to short circuit the system. And that means starting at ground zero: the home. And boy is that ever treading into the realm of social engineering.Bad parents raise future victims and predators. That’s a fact nobody can dispute. Stupid asswipes who create angry, abused, vicious, violent and emotionally crippled kids and toss them into the world and then expect us to fix them or jail them for the balance of their lives if they can’t be fixed, should to be prevented from manufacturing more of them. Are we agreed? Right. And that applies to the BARRIO as well as LAGUNA NIGUEL? Roger that.But is that ever going to happen? And I don’t know if I want to live in a country that tells people when, how, where and why to have kids. I’m sure the CHINESE RED ARMY would have no problem sterilizing lousy parents (or just shooting them) and sending their kids into labor camps. But we don’t do that here. They may not have the gang problem there that we have here, but I think we’re all agreed that we’d rather cope with the EME than deal with the PEOPLE’S BUREAU OF RE-EDUCATION AND CORRECT SOCIALIST BEHAVIOR.Frankly, other than removing the profit from drugs and putting a lot more cops on the street to neutralize the more egregious offenders, there really isn’t very much we can do legally or morally to keep adults from making future criminals. More on this as the mind continues to work the problem.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2003

WE’VE BEEN AWAY
There haven’t been any postings lately because In The Hat has taken a long-planned company vacation to Humboldt County, or as the natives call it, behind the Redwood Curtain. We lived out of an 8×8 ft dome tent, cooked over oak logs and walked for miles and miles through the thousand-year-old redwoods and salt fogs. We observed deer and Roosevelt Elk at Frisbee-toss distance, had some food stolen by raccoons, observed the unmistakable tracks of a bear near several creeks and tried to sucker trout that were smarter than us to bite at caddis fly, blue parachutes and adams to no avail. This activity is about as far as you can get from gangsters and drive-bys. And it’s a necessary corrective to In The Hat’s usual pursuit of crime and criminals.Before you assume that In The Hat is a collective of Mountain Men and Women, we also dined at two outstanding restaurants. The first was ABBRUZZI in Arcata, just north of Eureka. The salmon and mascarpone cheese ravioli were fall-on-your-face exquisite. The second was BIBA in Sacramento which we diverted to on our way home. We went for the gnochi for first with an outstanding grilled salmon for secondo.By the way, we also found out what happened to all the hippies. And no, they’re not all living communally at Tom Hayden’s house in Santa Monica. They’re all hanging around the main square in Arcata. We haven’t seen such a collection of tie dye, blonde butt-length rasta hair and bare feet since the Viet Nam moratoriums. And of course, the place smelled like the parking lot at Grateful Dead concert.While we were away, the state apparently booted the grey Davis and voted in Arnold. We learned this from the local paper another camper had given us. We also learned that Humboldt County voted 95% in favor of the recall. Clearly, hippie burn outs don’t like Davis much either. Or maybe they thought they were voting on a pot-law recall.We’re glad to be back in LA and we’re looking forward to the verdict on the three Avenues gangsters accused of murdering RANDY “MUPPET” MORALES. The jury was instructed on Tuesday and is still deliberating. Stay tuned.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2003

WHAT’S A MAFIA ASSOCIATE?
We have an avid and interested reader base and right after the MAXSON post of this morning, we received an email asking what exactly is an ASSOCIATE? Is that like a MADE MAN in the MAFIA or some lower rank?There are three levels of involvement in the EME. The first is what the EME calls a SOUTHERN SOLDIER. That would be the rank and file street gangster who claims a particular gang like AVENUES, VARIO NUEVO ESTRADA, PRIMERA FLATS etc. If the gangster puts in enough work for the gang such as slinging drugs, and keeping the neighborhood free of incursions from other gangs, he’ll be given additional responsibilities. He’ll be officially put in the crew of an ASSOCIATE. That ASSOCIATE might order him to scout the neighborhood for dealers who don’t pay their taxes and REGULATE them. That’s another term for assaulting or intimidating them to pay taxes.As a member of a crew, he might then be asked to collect taxes. Usually, when the SOLDIER starts handling tax money for the EME, or does anything on direct orders from an ASSOCIATE or a full-blown CARNAL, he’s considered and ASSOCIATE as well. This grants him more power and respect because he’s now doing the work of the MOB. ASSOCIATES attend meetings where other ASSOCIATES or CARNALS are also present.You might consider these BOARD OF DIRECTORS meeting where high-level policy decisions are made. At these meetings, they’ll discuss issues like GREENLIGHTS, TOUCH-UP LIGHTS, COLLECTIONS and the existence of PAPERWORK on individuals. Not all ASSOCIATES have equal status. Some are only collecting taxes but have yet to prove themselves in combat. And it’s at these meetings that an ASSOCIATE can elevate his status by RAISING HIS HAND to take care of a miscreant or a snitch. When you raise your hand, you’re volunteering to kill someone that the EME wants eliminated.If you accomplish the mission, you receive immediate stripes. That puts you in a strong position with the EME. If you raise your hand on several occasions, then you’re probably destined for full-blown BROTHER status.To be made a CARNAL you need to have at least three brothers present and they all have to vote in the affirmative. If you’ve got one hold-out, you’re not made. If you claim to be made, and you’re not, you are then GREENLIGHTED, no matter how many stripes you earned. The EME does not tolerate misrepresentation.The process isn’t as straightforward as described however. Very often, factions are formed inside the brotherhood. Sometimes, old grudges get in the way of being made. And sometimes, an ASSOCIATE might be lulled into a false sense of security. It’s happened on many occasions where an ASSOCIATE is sent on a murder mission but it’s actually a suicide run. What happens is, the EME needs to have two people killed. They’ll tell intended victim NUMBER ONE that he needs to earn stripes and the best way to do that is kill intended VICTIM NUMBER TWO. What NUMBER ONE doesn’t know is that as soon as he does his hit, he’s hit immediately afterwards. This is a SUICIDE RUN.Nothing is ever written in stone in this world and the players and alliances are always in a state of flux. Some might say utter confusion. But at least now you know the difference between a SOLDIER, an ASSOCIATE and a CARNAL. Stay tuned for more EME stuff.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2003

LAPD SWITCHES TO .40 CALIBER GLOCK
We were never fans of the BERETTA 92 chambered for the 9 mm that’s standard issue of the LAPD. So we have to applaud CHIEF BRATTON’s decision to switch to the GLOCK chambered in .40 S&W. The S&W designation, by the way, stands for SMITH & WESSON, the legendary arms maker that developed the .40 caliber cartridge.We want to give you some details and perspective you won’t find in the mainstream papers. First of all, the 9 mm cartridge has a history of not doing the job. What we mean is that it’s not a fight-stopper round. Stories of perpetrators being shot as many as 10, 15 and in one case 26 times with no visible effect are legendary. The next time you read a story where cops shoot an armed suspect 10 times, don’t start jumping to conclusions. Cops are trained to shoot until a suspect either goes down or visibly gives up the fight in some way. The 9 mm round does not put people down right quick. So cops are “forced” to shoot perps multiple times because the round they’ve been issued is pathetically limp-wristed. Remember that next time you read about a shooting in the LA TIMES.The nine was supposed to be the kinder, gentler round that turned out to be the less kind and less gentle round because a cop now has to shoot a suspect numerous times before the fight is taken out of him. Which is why some people call the 9 mm the POODLE SHOOTER. It’s okay against a small dog, lousy against a full grown man. Especially if that man is big, mean and amped up on narcotics.Okay, so, based on this spotty history, a lot of departments across the country, as well as the FBI and other FEDERAL agencies, dropped the nine and went looking for a stouter round – something that would get the immediate attention of an armed perp without having to fill the perp full of holes and lead.The answer has always been there in the form of the .45 ACP (ACP stands for AUTOMATIC COLT PISTOL). This was the round developed for the legendary COLT AUTOMATIC PISTOL way back in 1911 by the famous gun designer JOHN BROWNING. And the reason the round and the gun were developed was that the US ARMY made an emergency request for a handgun that would stop a charging man in his tracks. You see, the ARMY was having this problem in the PHILIPINES with MUSLIM EXTREMISTS (sound familiar?). The MUSLIMS’ favorite tactic was the human wave assault. And the .38 revolver which was the standard issue weapon of the grunts, was just not up to the job of stopping a charging man. Especially one amped up on CANNABIS and other stimulants as they often were. A US soldier would empty his revolver into an attacker and would still end up speared through the gut.The .45 ACP proved to be an excellent manstopper — in the PHILIPINES and everywhere else. And it remained in the US ARMY arsenal until the kindler, gentler 1980s when it was replaced by, you guessed it, the BERETTA 9 mm. The US ARMY designation for it is the M9, but it’s almost identical to the LAPD BERETTA 92FS and the BERETTA 92S civilians can buy over the counter.While ideal in many ways, the problem with the .45 ACP is that in the new world order of female cops and small-statured cops (the height requirement is so low these days, midgets can qualify) many police recruits just can’t handle the recoil of a .45 ACP. Plus they have little tiny delicate hands and not a lot of upper body strength which is required to to a quick rack/tap/bang malfunction clearance. And if you have a double feed, or a stovepipe, and you’ve got an 18 or 20 lb. recoil spring to overcome, you really need that arm strength. (SEE, we told you you’d never get this kind of info from the local rags).You’re still wiith us, right?Okay. So the situation was this: 9 mm too weak, .45 ACP too strong. But as GOLDILOCKS found out, “This one is JUST RIGHT.” The just right in this case is the .40 S&W round. More powerful than a 9 mm. But not as mule-kicking as a .45 ACP. And the ballistics nearly the equal of the .45. What more could a department ask for? Good sectional density. Decent velocity so you’ll get good expansion from a hollowpoint. Good penetration but not too much so you don’t get the shoot-throughs that the old FBI hyper-fast 10 mm round had. And good kinetic energy transfer when coupled with a good petal design. This is the force, measured in foot/pounds that is delivered to the body of the target from the impact of the bullet.The only problem left was to find a decent platform for the .40 S&W. You see, the other problem with the BERETTA is that it’s a BIG gun. It’s considered a large frame and that first double-action trigger pull is a bear for small-handed, short-fingered people. The trigger pull is roughly around 10 to 11 pounds of effort. We’ve seen some cops who need to put their left index finger on top of their trigger finger just to overcome the trigger effort. HOW EMBARASSING!Enter the GLOCK. As even gun amateurs know, the GLOCK is a synthetic framed gun. And no, it’s not invisible to X-rays. It has steel parts in the frame and a steel slide and barrell. It’s light, EXTREMELY reliable, inexpensive to buy, cheap to maintain and it’s small enough so that even little coppers can handle it without a booster trigger finger. And even though it has a double-action only trigger system, the trigger pull is only about half that of the BERETTA first trigger pull. So even the females and girlie men in the department can pull the trigger without asking for a spotter.The GLOCK in .40 S&W is in many ways, the ideal gun/cartridge for the modern “diverse” police department. So to CHIEF BRATTON — good call, homes. Cops are better protected, perps won’t need to be shot as many times (we hope) and the public is better served. While we personally will never get used to the trigger feel of the GLOCK, we’ve seen good shooters do just amazing things with it. Personally, In The Hat has always been a huge fan of the 1911 pattern (popularly knowns as the .45 AUTO or the GOVERNMENT MODEL). It’s what we would pick to have on our hip in a gun fight.Oh, just in case you were wondering, LAPD SWAT will stick with their .45 ACP round, thank you. They’re manly men and they can master the one, true and undisputed king of combat handgun cartridges — the .45 ACP.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2003

CHEECH WAS LYING. WHAT A SHOCKER!
Last week we told you that we met CHEECH AGUIRRE, uncle to ALEX and RICHIE and brother to RICHARD AGUIRRE. And we told you that CHEECH was in a wheelchair due to the fact that he was missing his left leg because he told us it got blown off by a shotgun blast. Well, we were talking to a NORTHEAST COPPER this afternoon and this cop says that CHEECH lost his leg due to complications from DIABETES. The cop says that CHEECH tells everybody it was blown off by a gauge. Okay. We were suckered. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. But CHEECH did show us a whole gang of scarred-over pellet and stab wounds on his lower back and butt. And they looked pretty genuine. So CHEECH, your secret’s out you big bad wheelchair spinning homie. Watch your back and for god’s sake stay outta the sugary snacks.

ENOUGH TO SCARE YOU SOBER
We were going through an old AVENUES case the other night and came across a homicide that should scare anybody who buys illegal drugs, even from people you know or think you know. Of course, no In The Hat reader would ever dream of buying or selling narcotics. Right?The story goes like this. On MAY 23, 1998, three FILIPINOS went to 5642 ALDAMA to buy coke and/or meth from EUGENIO COVARRUBIAS and/or RHONDA COVARRUBIAS his wife. When the FILIPINOS got to the back door of the location, they were met by three Hispanics. One of the Hispanics pulled a gun. The three “CHINAS” (that’s what Latino gangsters call FILIPINOS) ran for it. But one of the Hispanics, 15-year-old ROBERT GONZALEZ, started blasting and killed CESAR TOLENTINO.It seems that RHONDA, the dealer, had inadvertently tipped off her homeboy (deleted) that the three CHINAS were coming over to buy some big quantity and they’d have lots of money. (Deleted) had also found out that the CHINAS were never strapped so they’d be an easy take down.So RAMIREZ rounded up some homeboys (ROBERT GONZALEZ and CUBAN MANNY LOPEZ) and decided to jack up the CHINAS. The deal went totally sideways when the CHINAS fought back with their fists. A boxing match ensued but GONZALEZ couldn’t hold his water and started shooting.To make a long story short, LOPEZ, (deleted) and GONZALEZ copped a plea to voluntary manslaughter right in the middle of their jury trial. It wasn’t going well for them and the lawyers figured that they should get out while they could before the jury returned with a guilty verdict and the inevitable death sentence. This was, after all, a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE case in which a murder was committed in the course of a robbery. And that gets you the cyanide pill.As a result of the plea, they were each sentenced to 11 years. RHONDA was sentenced to time served and 5 years probation. CESAR is still dead, however. To us, 11 years doesn’t seem like a lot of time for a murder committed during a robbery. But since the actual shooter was 15, there was no death penalty available for him. We guess you can get away with murder.At the time of the murder (deleted) was 19 and already had 4 kids. LOPEZ was 28 and he also had four children. You have to wonder what sort of citizens those unfortunate and innocent children will grow into. The tragedy is that some time in the future, In The Hat will sadly probably be writing about them.Here’s the cautionary tale part of the story. One of the CHINAS, HANSON ADAMS, was a friend of EUGENIO COVARRUBIAS and they occasionally did drug deals together. For instance, ADAMS used to come to EUGENIO’S house and cook up meth and then go halves on the profits. ADAMS also knew (deleted), GONZALEZ and CUBAN MANNY LOPEZ because LOPEZ would occasionally live in the COVARRUBIAS house. So the moral of the story is, DON’T TRUST ANYBODY. Even the guy standing next to you cooking up the meth. Especially the guy standing next to you cooking up the meth.Here’s one for CELESTE FREMON. According to the FREMON “rules of the street” ADAMS and TOLENTINO were not supposed to be set up and jacked up by their “friends.” CELESTE, do us a favor and get a POST-IT note and paste it to your SMITH-CORONA, IMAC, or clay tablet or whatever you use. Write on it, THERE ARE NO RULES ON THE STREET. Got that? See you in the BARRIO, babe.But here’s the ultimate in irony. GONZALEZ was allowed to finish getting his GED before being sentenced to his 11 years by judge LANCE ITO (yeah that one). Also, GONZALEZ’ lawyer asked that some letters be inserted into GONZALEZ file. One was from a drama teacher who said that GONZALEZ applied himself diligently to learning his lines and being on time for a YOUTH AUTHORITY production of HAMLET. And there was another letter in the file from GONZALEZ meditation teacher who said that the convicted killer (my characterization) was getting in touch with his feelings etc. So, the other moral is, kill a guy in a drug deal and get free drama and meditation lessons. Welcome to the oppressively harsh system of American justice. Gee, you think murderers get meditation and drama classes in say, the People’s Paradise of Cuba? Just asking.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2003

RICHARD AGUIRRE SENTENCED
Late last week RICHARD AGUIRRE, patriarch of the AGUIRRE clan was sentenced to 270 days in COUNTY on a low level drug beef. We mentioned earlier that he didn’t look his usual self — tough, strong and confident. We’re trying to wangle an interview but we’re not holding out much hope. The DA in this case was DAVID GELFOUND. Private DEFENSE COUNSEL was LETTICIA AGUIRRE (no relation). The judge was MAUREEN DUFFY-LEWIS.
FREMON CREATES ANOTHER VICTIM
In what’s by now a familiar pattern for CELESTE FREMON, freelancer for the LA WEEKLY, she’s created another pious tract about a good kid gone bad and then tries to go good again and then ends up killing somebody. The subject this time is ROBERT LEON, who went by the name of CRAZY ACE or LOCO. According to her, he had climbed up the gang ladder and became a shot caller at the age of 17. He was with TMC (THE MOB CREW) a BOYLE HEIGHTS gang. We don’t have links to her piece but if you log on to LATIMES.COM and do a search under her name, you’ll be directed to it.After spending 4.5 years in prison, he gets out and tries to go straight, eventually working his way to a camera assistant job with some well-known film land DPs. And then he loses his job, has a fight with his girlfriend and ends up killing a guy in barfight. Surely that happens to a lot of temporarily unemployed film people. He’s in county right now awaiting trial.FREMON ran a similar I-tried-to-get-out-but-they-kept-pulling-me-back-in piece some time ago in the WEEKLY. The subject of that piece was LEON’s boyhood pal, another TMC gangster by the name of ROMAN GONZALEZ. Unlike LEON, GONZALEZ was shot and killed by unknown gang rivals. She stated at that time, and again in the LA TIMES MAGAZINE piece, that “according to the rules of the street,” rival gangsters should have given ROMAN a pass due to his dropout status. Maybe those are the rules on SESAME STREET, but not the BARRIO streets. In FREMON’s world, gangs are supposed to abide by the GENEVA CONVENTION regarding non-combatants. According to the rules of the street as we know them, however, there’s no time outs or do-overs in the BARRIO. ROMAN had it coming because he had shot up and pissed off a whole lot of people. A little get-even was just a matter of time. Where she comes up with her weird “rules of the street” nonsense is beyond us. Nobody has ever heard of such a thing.Here’s a little background on TMC. First off, they’re about 150 soldiers deep. That’s fairly small by Boyle Heights standards. And TMC is completely surrounded by enemies. On one side there’s PRIMERA FLATS. And on the other, there’s CUATRO FLATS. The two FLATS are allies. And they’re both rivals of TMC. The reason TMC has survived more than 20 years as the meat in a FLATS sandwich is because TMC can hold their own in a shooting war. They have a lot of active shooters and LEON and GONZALEZ were front line shock troops. In fact, GONZALEZ went by TRIGGER, an indication that he liked guns. It’s not because he was a fan of Roy Roger’s horse. Thanks to their history of aggression and being always strapped, LEON and GONZALEZ are both bullet magnets. The fact that FREMON is surprised that GONZALEZ was assassinated indicates that she just doesn’t get the gangster mentality.Like every other gang piece that she’s written, this story comes out of FATHER GREGORY BOYLE’S ministry. We have to wonder if FREMON will ever write a gang piece without ever mentioning FATHER BOYLE once. It seems to us, the sum total of her gang experience and knowledge comes from what BOYLE tells her. Her assertions, like those of BOYLE, are rather baffling. For instance, parroting BOYLE, she’s said in the past that RICO prosecutions don’t work because street gangs are unorganized. Well, yeah, they may not have the org chart of FEDEX or even ENRON, but they’re not the freewheeling goofballs BOYLE and FREMON would have us believe. Here’s a for instance. When PANCHO VILLA, head of the COLUMBIA LIL CYCOS (ECHO PARK gang) was prosecuted, his wife was arrested with $420,000 in cash and something like 10 kilos of cocaine. Collecting that kind of money and distributing that amount of drugs requires a sizable and well-functioning organization.And when SHAKEY JOE HERNANDEZ from BOYLE HEIGHTS was running burn out phones for the MEXICAN MAFIA back in mid-90s, the FBI logged over 10,000 phone calls in a three month period from prisons throughout the state to just one of SHAKEY JOE’S numbers. That’s a lot of information going in and out of jail.But facts never seem to stand in the way of FREMON’s pieces and her improbable assertions are clearly never challenged or examined by the editors at the TIMES. This reminds us of the TIMES piece that ran a few months ago about DONALD BIG D GARCIA. That piece made him out to be this gruff but lovable rascal who’s kinda scary but nice underneath. The writer failed to mention that BIG D was a made brother in the EME among other nefarious connections we won’t mention and responsible for other stuff we can’t say. It’s obvious the people at the TIMES only scratch the surface, find out what they want to find out and leave the rest un-examined.As to ROBERT LEON, we found out a few things that will punch some holes in his version of the shooting. Can’t say, of course, because the trial is pending. More on this as information becomes public.We look forward to the day when FREMON will write a gang piece without mentioning FATHER BOYLE, JAME DIEGO VIGIL or some other ACADEMIC who has never been closer than cell phone range to a convicted killer.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 03, 2003

VICTOR OROZCO’S FAMILY GETTING BACK ON THEIR FEET
I reported previously that the PLATA family had been burned out of their house in ANGELINO HEIGHTS a few weeks ago. Their son, VICTOR OROZCO, was killed by a single bullet in the face in 1999 while he was standing at a pay phone on FIGUEROA and 67th. The alleged shooter was ANTHONY “SMOKEY” OCHOA from the AVENUES gang and a prospective member of JIMMY “DRAC” MAXSON’S crew. OCHOA commited suicide sometime after the shooting. For those of you keeping track of all this, you’ll recall that RICHIE “LIL PEE WEE” AGUIRRE was driving the car that OCHOA was riding in when OCHOA allegedly shot OROZCO. RICHIE is currently in custody awaiting trial on the OROZCO murder charge as well as the murder of drug dealer ALLEN DOWNEY.We’re happy to report that the PLATAS have found a new apartment. Thanks to the help from the RED CROSS, their extended family and members of their church, the PLATAS are getting back on their feet. The DAD has been forced to stop working due to a severe back injury but their remarkable spirit is keeping them optimistic and cheerful.As always, the accused are innocent of charges until proven guilty.
SCANNING AIN’T CHEAP OR EASY ANYMORE
We’ve gotten more than a few emails from curious readers who want to know how to listen in on LAPD, LASD and CHP radio transmissions. We can’t answer each reader individually so here goes for a rundown on what’s going on in the world of cop communications.It used to be that a $150 Radio Shack scanner and a few minutes with a frequency guide would get you all the LAPD radio transmissions you could handle — including surveillance freqs which were the coolest things to listen to. All that has changed.Last year, LAPD traded in the ancient but reliable analog radio system for the new digital APCO 25 protocol. APCO stands for Association of Police Communications Officers, a group that oversees all police communications and is supposed to make sure that, among other things, adjacent police departments (LAPD and PASADENA for instance) can talk to each other in an emergency or pursuit or if officers need assistance.The APCO 25 digital system CANNOT be monitored with conventional analog scanners like you used to be able to get from RADIO SHACK and UNIDEN, among others. Tune into the old 506 or 507 Megahertz (Mhz) LAPD frequencies these days and all you’ll get is static.Here’s the interesting thing. Departments like ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFFS also went with APCO 25 digital. But unlike the LAPD, ORANGE COUNTY uses level III encryption. That means there’s no way that any civilian can legally monitor that department. Level III encryption is proprietary and you need to be licensed and permitted to use it. News organizations for instance, can still listen. Civilians are basically out of that loop and will remain out of it. Period.The LAPD, on the other hand, did not go with encryption. So legally, you can still monitor LAPD transmissions. It’s just going to cost you a lot. Right now, the only scanner that can monitor LAPD is the UNIDEN BC785D DIGITAL MOBILE BASE UNIT. This is roughly the same size as the old RADIO SHACK mobile/base units and it easily fits under the dash of most cars. The cost is $369.95 from discounters. As it comes from the factory, it can follow trunked conversations such as the ERICSSON (EDACS), MOTOROLA and JOHNSON (LTR) system. It can also monitor conventional analog signals.But to get the LAPD, you’ll also need to plug in the UNIDEN BCi25 CARD. That’s an additional $299.95. This card activates level I and II APCO 25 digital communications. But not Level III. Civilians are prohibited from Level III as noted earlier. Add sales tax and a few accessories such as a noise filter, car antenna and magnetic mount, a frequency manual and maybe a carrying case and you’re in the high $800 range. Not cheap. But it’s the only game in town. SO FAR!Other makers may get into this market if they see a demand. So there’s an outside chance the free enterprise system will come to the rescue and bring prices down. However, there’s no guarantee that LAPD won’t go the Level III encryption route sometime in the future. Which means your expensive UNIDEN scanner will become a very technoid looking coaster. Oh yeah, the LAPD has one frequency left that you can still monitor on analog. That would be 154.830, the decades-old citywide hotshot frequency. It’s good for the occasional thrill like, “Man with unknown type gun there now. Male hispanic, shaved head, tan pants, unknown shirt. Last heading northbound on York from Avenue 50.” But that’s all you’re gonna get. The days of following the responding officers to the call, the CODE 3 run and the aftermath are now gone — unless you have the $800 to spend on eavesdropping gear.There is good news though. You can still monitor the CHP on just about any scanner made. So far, CHP is sticking to its traditional 42 Mhz frequency band and they’re staying analog and unencrypted. But let’s face it, compared to listening to the North Hollywood BoA shootout, the OJ chase and the 24/7 felony stops, monitoring the CHP is a snooze.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 29, 2003

RICHARD AGUIRRE SENTENCING DELAYED
WALLY thought he was done with the AGUIRREs for the week, but sometimes you can’t seem to get away from them. On AUG. 27, WALLY was doing his usual snooping and schmoozing in the CRIMINAL COURTS BUILDING when his PALM PILOT alerted him that he had something scheduled. It turned out to be RICHARD AGUIRRE’S SENTENCING. So WALLY ankled it over to JUDGE MAUREEN DUFFY-LEWIS’ court room and got there just in time.MR. AGUIRRE’S private defense counsel LETITIA AGUIRRE (no relation) informed judge DUFFY-LEWIS that there had been two recent deaths in the AGUIRRE family. One was MR. AGUIRRE’S son BENNY. The other was the matriarch of the family RUTH AGUIRRE, RICHARD and CHEECH’S mother. Both died of complications due to diabetes. She was scheduled for burial on his sentencing day so JUDGE DUFFY-LEWIS granted the request. ADA DAVID GELFOUND did not object to a continuance until next week. The new date is SEPT. 4.The last time that WALLY saw MR. AGUIRRE was on one of LIL PEE WEE’S court dates. At that time, he looked hearty and vigorous. His beard had a few traces of white but it was still mostly dark and he was tanned and fit. At his sentencing, MR. AGUIRRE ‘s beard was completely white, he was pale and he walked like a tired old man. Even DAVID GELFOUND noted how rapidly RICHARD AGUIRRE had aged.And it’s no wonder. His oldest son is doing life without parole in MARION FEDERAL PENITENTIARY. Another has just died. His youngest is looking at a double murder case and will probably get a long sentence is state prison. His mother just died and brother CHEECH is a sad homeless drug addict. WALLY would love to have a little heart to heart with MR. AGUIRRE to see what’s going on in that head and heart.

INTHEHAT IS HUGE IN DENMARK
The frozen north is about as far as you can get from the gun-blasted streets of East LA. But somebody up there likes us. The good people at the DANISH BROADCASTING COMPANY have been reading IN THE HAT and apparently they like what they see. They liked it enough to send a reporter and a photographer to LA to interview WALLY and get background information on what’s going on in the world of HISPANIC STREET GANGS. WALLY, the media whore that he is, was more than happy to oblige and spent two days driving the intrepid duo around AVENUES, TOONERVILLE and FROGTOWN neighborhoods.WALLY introduced the DANISH DUO, MADS and KLAUS to DETECTIVE JOHN BERDIN and some of the detectives in NORTHEAST homicide. MADS got a good interview with BERDIN, KLAUS got some good pictures and they both left NORTHEAST police station loaded down with T-shirts, flashlights, keychains, D.A.R.E. bumper stickers and other assorted trinkets. BERDIN was generous to a fault and everyone around the station made the two DANES and WALLY feel very welcome.After the interview, BERDIN arranged a ride-and-drive in a black and white with SERGEANT GREG STAATS. Like BERDIN, STAATS (who incidentally is of DANISH extraction) was more than generous with his time. He knew exactly where to go to give KLAUS what he wanted. KLAUS shot lots of images of TOONERVILLE soldiers flashing their signs and generally grandstanding for the camera. This thrilled KLAUS. After two days of not finding ideal subjects and missing the good light, he finally got what he wanted and he got it in the pre-sunset golden light that is “THE” magic light of every photographer we know.We’ve always been told that if you do well by others, it will come back to you many-fold. We’ve always believed and just got another confirmation of good karma on Monday night, the last night that MADS and KLAUS were here. WALLY was rewarded with meeting another figure in the legendary AGUIRRE family.It happened like this. WALLY and the DANES were hanging out on YORK BLVD. and they were approached by a gregarious veterano-looking dude in a wheelchair. This guy first asked for 80 cents. WALLY gave him a buck. Then the wheelchair guy proceeds to tell the three that his missing left leg was the result of him being on the wrong end of a 12-gauge shotgun blast and that he was stabbed 12 times and left for dead on the street.It turns out that MR. WHEELCHAIR is CHEECH AGUIRRE — yet another member of the AGUIRRE dynasty. We understand his street name is PSYCHO. He’s RICHARD senior’s brother, and the uncle to ALEX and RICHIE. CHEECH said that he was shot four years ago by MARAVILLA, that he’s now homeless and sleeps on the streets around YORK and that he’s trying to divert young people from getting into gangs. When WALLY told CHEECH that he (wally) knew all about the AGUIRRES — ALEX (PEE WEE), RICHIE (LIL PEE WEE) and RICHARD SENIOR (HALF MAN) — CHEECH became defensive and implied that maybe we were rats working for the cops. CHEECH wanted to know how come WALLY knew so much. WALLY said that he knows a lot about a lot of people. Then CHEECH thought that the DANES were rats. WALLY then told CHEECH the LAPD doesn’t have the kind of money to hire people from DENMARK to infiltrate the AVENUES. And besides, how much sense does it make to spy on AVENUES with DANISH guys? CHEECH bought that but his change of attitude was pronounced and he wasn’t the same gregarious fellow after that. MADS got CHEECH to do a radio promo for DANISH radio. WALLY can’t wait to hear that tape. Live on tape directly from the EAST LA BARRIO reaching to places that have never heard of HINAS, JURAS, HOMEBOYS and GHETTO BIRDS!! You gotta love the internet.MADS and KLAUS left the next morning for BURNING MAN in NEVADA.The encounter on YORK wasn’t the end of WALLY’s experiences with the AGUIRRES. Check out the post above for more.
ANDY TEAGUE DOING BETTER ALL THE TIME
The good news is that Detective ANDY (BOY) TEAGUE is on the mend and is making an unexpected and some would say even miraculous recovery. Look back to earlier posts for details on what happened to ANDY and his partner ABIEL BARRON.ANDY’s unique brand of humor is back in all it’s cynical glory, his mind is sharp and clear and he’s expected to go home from rehab by the first week of SEPTEMBER. We’ll keep you up to date on his progress.On an ANDY-related matter, TIM (HUERO) MCGHEE has been shooting his mouth off in county about how he orchestrated the traffic accident that killed ABE BARRON and severely injured TEAGUE. The depths that this guy will sink to cannot be measured by man. This is one sick puppy. To their credit, none of the inmates in COUNTY JAIL that we’ve heard of believe a word of it. They know he’s full of crap and with each outrageous statement he articulates, he makes himself less liked by the very people he’s trying to impress. Maybe MCGHEE may not make into the brotherhood after all.

WE’VE BEEN AWAY
The reason you haven’t seen any recent postings is because WALLY and company have been traveling and going about the business of collecting gang info and dealing in all manner of crime related issues.So here goes. Let’s start with the good news.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 16, 2003

STRUCK BY TRAGEDY AGAIN
Why does it always seem that the good people are the ones who are constantly tested and challenged by circumstances. This week, the PLATA family was burned out of their rented ANGELINO HEIGHTS home when the house next door caught fire and the flames spread to theirs. Fortunately, none of the PLATAS were hurt but everything they owned was destroyed in the fire. This is not the first time tragedy has struck this family of six. The PLATA’S oldest son, VICTOR HUGO OROZCO was killed by a single bullet to the face allegedly fired by “SMOKY” OCHOA in 1997. LIL PEE WEE was allegedly driving the car with SMOKY riding shotgun when OROZCO was shot. VICTOR was 21 at the time of his murder, had just fathered a child and was working three jobs to keep the families going.PEE WEE is currently in COUNTY JAIL awaiting trial on VICTOR’S murder and the murder of ALLEN DOWNEY, a low level drug dealer. The real tragedy is that OROZCO was never involved in gangs and was using the pay phone on the 6600 block of FIGUEROA when he was shot. He was calling his brother-in-law to ask for a ride home because the people he was with couldn’t drive him.The PLATA family is incredibly tight and religious and we’re certain they’ll weather through this as they did the killing of VICTOR. They probably see this as a test of their faith. We wish we are as strong as these good people.

MONDAY, AUGUST 04, 2003

NINA GUERRERO DIES
We’ve just learned that NINA GUERRERO passed away on July 29. Nina was shot on June 11, 2001 while in the company of MANUEL APODACA. MANUEL was killed instantly, but NINA (who was known as PEBBLES), survived five gun shot wounds. She never fully recovered and was in and out of hospitals and rehab centers for two years before finally falling victim to her injuries. She leaves behind two children who are being raised my MANUEL’S PARENTS. The suspect in the shootings of these two young people is TIMOTHY McGHEE. We pray for NINA’s soul and for a violence-free future for her two children.

THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2003

SALINAS QUOTES FROM THE LAW BOOKS
It always amazes INTHEHAT how loudly convicted killers scream when they suspect their rights have been violated. And we’re not talking about the big rights here, like the right to free competent defense, free medical care, a speedy trial and all the rest of the big ones. We’re talking about not getting eggs when they want eggs.We were looking through our TIGGER SALINAS file and we found this hand-written note he sent to JUDGE TRICIA BIGELOW on APRIL 21, 2003. He complains to JUDGE BIGELOW about his breakfast stating that he received 1 jelly package, 1 bun, 1 bowl of cereal and one 6 oz. carton of orange juice. He did not receive his milk or the 2 eggs he was supposed to get. Then he quotes the CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS TITLE 15, PENAL CODE SECTION 1241 that he’s entitled to receive the “full amount recommended in the daily allowance with all meals.”It’s amazing that SALINAS, who killed his girlfriend SOFIA BERNICE GOMEZ for throwing a beer in his face, should be so outraged when other people don’t appear to be following the strict letter of the law. When SALINAS levelled the handgun at GOMEZ on the night of August 19, 2000, would it have stopped him from pulling the trigger five times if she’d suddenly quoted section 187 of the PENAL CODE about murder? We doubt it. With people like ALFREDO “TIGGER” SALINAS, the law is for other people to follow. Not for him. Judge BIGELOW ordered the SHERIFFS to ensure that SALINAS gets his full tax-payer funded breakfast every morning.

THE BACKDOOR OUT OF THE EME
Some years ago, RANDY “COWBOY” THERRIEN, a carnal in the EME, was quoted in an FBI wiretap saying, “Religion ain’t the back door out of this thing [THE MEXICAN MAFIA]. You pick up a Bible and think you’re out, I’m gonna come looking for you.” Well, Randy, it looks like you’re wrong. In my previous post, I mentioned DONALD GARCIA, ART BLAJOS and KILROY ROYBAL. I calculated how long they’ve been out of the EME and it’s been almost two decades for all of them. That’s a long time. Apparently there is a way out. The back door is religion. The brothers used to like to say BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT. It now appears that it’s BLOOD IN, BIBLE OUT. So much for the fearsome retaliatory power of the EME. Unless, of course, some other dynamic is at work that we don’t know about or can’t speculate on. In time, we suppose, all will be revealed.

SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2003

THE EME AND VICTORY OUTREACH
A few nights ago I was re-reading BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT, the famous how-I-escaped-the-Mexican-Mafia book by ART BLAJOS. I was struck by how little the movie had in common with the book. There are sections of the book where BLAJOS quotes liberally from former drug czar and recovering gambling addict WILLIAM BENNETT and WILLIAM BUCKLEY (yeah that BILL BUCKLEY, the conservatives’ spritual leader). Obviously, none of that got in the movie because having EDWARD JAMES OLMOS stop in the middle of a prison rape and start spouting conservative ideology would have made the ticket buyers stay away even more than they did when the movie was released. The movie was a failure on virtually every level. One of these days, someone will make a “real” Mexican Mafia movie.As coincidence would have it, today I was re-reading the trial testimony of JOHN ANTHONY TORRES, a confidential witness in a FEDERAL RICO case and an EME dropout. He was testifying for the prosecution that the MEXICAN MAFIA is a powerful organization that operates on violence, extortion and drug trafficking. The position of the DEFENSE in this case was that the EME was a figment of the prosecution’s imagination and the government had no basis for a RICO case.Anyway, during his cross examination, TORRES mentions that the brothers in COUNTY JAIL at the time he was voted in were JOE MORGAN, DANIEL GRAJEDA, ART BLAJOS, KILROY ROYBAL, MICHAEL MORENO, MANUAL LUNA, and RICHARD RESENDEZ. TORRES stated that he was “made” in 1979 in LA COUNTY JAIL. It happened on the 1750E ROW – the HIGH POWER row in COUNTY.For those of you keeping score at home, here was the situation in 1979 in HIGH POWER in COUNTY. BLAJOS and MICHAEL MORENO were both in COUNTY during their murder trial. They were being prosecuted for the killing of NICKY VILLA. They were convicted, but the ruling was eventually overturned on appeal.RICHARD RESENDEZ aka BABY BOY, aka BABITO, would eventually be killed because he supposedly dissed ROYBAL’s wife. According to law enforcement sources, the killer was allegedly DONALD “BIG D” GARCIA. GARCIA was always very close to ROYBAL during their EME days and that relationship continues to this day. ROYBAL, BLAJOS and GARCIA are now all EME dropouts and members of VICTORY OUTREACH. And they’re all targeted for death by the BROTHERS. Numerous wire and phone intercepts have confirmed that these three, and others, are “always green.” The orders to kill them whenever and wherever the opportunity arises still stands. The question then is, why are these three men still alive?They preach, they travel, they work on the street to defuse retaliations before they get out of hand. They expose themselves to retaliation almost every day. And yet, no one has ever so much as raised a finger to hurt them. This has law enforcement puzzled and wrily bemused. Law enforcement officials close to these men won’t go on the record and speculate on why these men are still alive. Let’s just say many cops are amazed at the bullet free zone these three have created around themselves.

WE NEVER THOUGHT WE’D HEAR IT FROM FATHER BOYLE
Wally Fay has had his differences with Father Gregory Boyle in the past. Those familiar with Boyle, a Jesuit priest, know that he runs HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES in BOYLE HEIGHTS and that he has testified as a witness for the Defense in many cases involving Hispanic gangsters.In court and in the LA TIMES OP ED pages BOYLE has made some startling assertions such as 1) the MEXICAN MAFIA has little influence on the street 2) there’s no such thing as a “gang associate” 3) once in the COUNTY-wide gang database, a kid stays in that database for the rest of his life 4) there’s no such thing as mutli-generational gangsters etc. All of this is nonsense as anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the subject can confirm.For years, Boyle has been the go-to guy for CELESTE FREMON of the LA WEEKLY. FREMON wrote a book years ago called FATHER BOYLE AND THE HOMEBOYS so we can assume that BOYLE and FREMON probably have a relationship that transcends that of the usual reporter/subject. There’s obviously some sympatico there.In the past, whenever the LAPD or the CITY COUNCIL passed a new gang-suppression initiative, you could bet your last dollar that FREMON’s piece on it with would carry a BOYLE quote. Generally, his quotes were to the effect that the LAPD was being short-sighted, heavy handed and ineffective. Plus the LAPD history of horrible civil rights abuse would nullify any gains made in the crime stats blah, blah, blah. You could set your watch by it.So Wally was reading FREMON’s piece on the latest gang injunction against the Rollin 60s Crips. (The piece calls them the “ROLLING 60s” by the way. In MONSTER CODY’S book, he calls them the ROLLIN 60s. We’ll go with the spelling from the guy who killed a good number of them. He should know, right?) And in this piece, FREMON does her usual lap around the “experts” and prosecutors, eliciting quotes. The experts said the injunction won’t work and it’s violation of basic civil rights. Which, by the way, we agree with. It is a violation of civil rights and discriminatory. But then so is giving seniors a break on movie tickets.But here’s what floored WALLY. In the inevitable BOYLE quote, the good father says that GANG INJUNCTIONS are not only an indication that the community has had enough of the violence, but that injunctions can benefit the gang members themselves. FREMON quotes BOYLE. “I mean, eight minutes after one was filed here on the EASTSIDE, I had kids in my office saying ‘Get me a job.'” You could have knocked WALLY over with a communion wafer. What’s going on here? Has FATHER BOYLE had his brain electronically scanned and “re-educated?”Actually, we see something nearly as effective. We think we see the fine, charismatic hand of POLICE CHIEF BRATTON at work. We know for a fact, that one of the first people BRATTON spoke with when he took the job of CHIEF was FATHER BOYLE. And BRATTON has been cultivating BOYLE like a hothouse rose ever since. They appeared together on WARREN OLNEY’s WHICH WAY LA. They appeared together on the same panel with FREMON and TOM HAYDEN at the ANNENBERG SCHOOL for a discussion on the gang problem. They speak regularly. They’re, shall I say it? Almost pals.FREMON quotes BOYLE in her piece again. “For an injunction to work well, it really needs a police department that we don’t currently have. But we’re getting there under BRATTON. While under PARKS, you never wanted an injunction because it could only lead to abuse.”WHOA! FATHER BOYLE is actually absolving the LAPD of something. He’s on their side on this. Let’s break it down shall we.BOYLE is saying that the LAPD under the leadership of a black chief who was supposedly more sensitive to racial issues and police abuse would probably trample all over minority rights compared to a department run by a white guy? BOYLE may be drummed out of the PC brigade for this break with dogma. Everybody at the WEEKLY and on the Democrat Party mailing list knows that white chief equals insensitivity and abuse while black or latino chief equals “building bridges to minority communities.” If we’ve heard that once, we’ve heard it enough times to induce nausea.But we never expected it from BOYLE. And we bet FREMON didn’t either. We knew BRATTON was smart, slick, an effective operator and a tremendous “convincer.” But we had no idea he could get even GREG BOYLE to come around to some common sense conclusions. Has BRATTON the power to cloud men’s minds like the SHADOW? If so, we urge him to go cultivate the CITY COUNCIL. Maybe he can get them to stop wasting time on resolutions on the IRAQ war and corporate descendants of slave profiteers and urge them to get on with the real business of running this city.

TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2003

 
SALDANA TRIAL POSTPONED AGAIN
We mentioned in the recent past that GILBERT SALDANA, the AVENUES gangster who allegedly shot and killed KENNY WILSON, would be in court on JULY 7 for jury selection and the start of proceedings. As we know, the wheels of justice grind at the pace of glaciers. There’s been another delay. Right now it looks like there’s going to be a pre-trial conference on August 4 and a tentative start date of September 22 for trial. Of course, it’s subject to change. Apparently, there’s been trouble finding a witness and some other stuff we can’t talk about.This is pure speculation, but if the Federal case begins to gather up some momentum, SALDANA may never make to Superior Court in this case. He may end up going directly to Federal Court where we hope he lands in front of the no-nonsense Judge Ronald Lew.

THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2003

ANDY TEAGUE SEVERELY INJURED
Detective Teague was severely injured and his partner Detective Barone was killed yesterday in a head-on collision on Pearblossom Highway. THey were on their way to Victorville on LAPD business when another motorist tried to make a dangerous pass and collided with their vehicle. Those of us at InTheHat who know Teague and Barone are devastated by this news. We prayed last night and will continue to pray for the Almighty to spare Andy and return him to full health and to bless the soul of Barone. We’re without words right now.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11, 2003

 
SALDANA CASE GOES ON JULY 8.
GIlbert Saldana’s murder case goes to trial (finally!) on July 8. They start jury selection. If you’ve been playing along at home, you know that Saldana was one of the shooters who killed Kenny Wilson. The judge is much admired straight shooter Trish Bigelow.

MORE LA TIMES SCREW UPS.
We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but why is it every story the LAT does on gangs and criminals is tragically flawed. On June 9, 2003, the Times did a piece on legendary Eme member Donald Big D Garcia. Donald, whose real first name is Conrad (bet the Times didn’t know that) has been in our files for many years. Big D was a full-blown carnal and a shot caller. In the story, they state that he has dedicated his life to gang intervention through Victory Outreach and he currently works for the legendary Blinky Rodriguez. The Times does not mention that Big D has dedicated his life to Christ or that he was a made Eme brother. The piece, written by Michael Krikorian, was not much more than puffery for BiG D and left out alll the gruesome details. Krikorian almost made Big D sound like one of those gruff but lovable Damon Runyon characters — a tough guy as ready with his fists as he is with a hand extended to help the less fortunate. Krikorian also left out all the questionable characters involved with Blinky’s program like Robot Salas and Ernie Roybal. Wally wrote a letter to John Carroll at the Times pointing out a number of problems with the piece but, big surprise, no response from the Times. We’ll see how this goes. But Wally is not holding his breath.
YEAH, THEY’RE MAKING A FEDERAL CASE OUT OF IT!
In The Hat has just been informed that the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles is now officially involved in the Kenny Wilson murder investigation. USA Tom O’Brien, known to many at the LADA’s office as a good guy and solid prosecutor, is on the case. No indictment yet, but that should be coming soon. Kenny and his family may at long last get some vindication. The credit for Federal involvement goes to Northeast Detective Andy Teague who has been relentless in his quest to see justice done for Wilson.

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME
Wally hasn’t logged on in months because he’s been busy. Wally has landed a book agent for his monster in the making — Southern Soldiers. This is the long-awaited book on the Mexican Mafia and Hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles. Wally still can’t seem to get anything published in the LAT opinion section. Even when the item is innocuous and doesn’t disturb the delicate sensibilities of the LAT editors. But he’s persevering. More to come. Wally needs to make about a zillion phone calls.

MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2003

INTHEHAT RECOGNIZES VALOROUS OFFICER MARK DIMITT
On January 15, 2003 Hollenbeck officers Mark Dimitt and James Lopez, confronted an armed suspect at the intersection of Newtonia Drive and Guardia Avenue. They were in the process of investigating an ADW, shots fired situation and they were directed to the suspect by a witness. They confronted the suspect at a bus stop and ordered him to raise his hands. The suspect reached into his waist area, produced a pistol and began firing at the officers. They returned fired and killed him. The subsequent investigation indicated that the suspect had shot and killed a barber just a few blocks away.When we read this account, we were reminded that this is not Officer Mark Dimitt’s first encounter with armed suspects. We came across Officer Dimitt’s prior encounter with none other that Anthony “Tonito” Medina some time ago. If we recall correctly , this incident occurred in 1999. Dimitt and his partner at the time, Hollis Berdin, the wife of Northeast Detective John Berdin, made a vehicle stop on a pickup truck with three occupants at the intersection of York and Aldama. Unknown to the officers, the deviousTonito was lying in the pickup bed with a Glock model 17 pistol equipped with a laser sight. The gun was also equipped with a Plus 2 basepad in the magazine that brought the total round count in Tonito’s gun to 19.As the officers came to a stop behind the truck, Medina popped up and aimed the gun at them. Berdin and Dimitt later testified in court that they saw the red dot move from one to the other. They both bailed out, took cover and Dimitt fired one round at Medina. Untouched, Medina made like Road Runner and took off on foot with the gun. He still had the laser sight on and additional responding coppers literally followed the bouncing red dot right to where Medina hid out in the bushes of a vacant lot.Tonito Medina, a hardened Avenues gangster and associate of Lil Pee Wee Aguirre, (younger brother of Alex Aguirre currently doing the whole book in Marion Federal Pen), was prosecuted and convicted of murder, a killing that put him on the LAPD wanted list. A few months before his encounter with Dimitt and Berdin, Medina murdered Luis Figueroa, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who Medina thought was making time with his girlfriend. It turns out, Figueroa barely knew the girl and he was really interested in another girl, a friend of Medina’s girlfriend. Medina was also convicted of ADW on the two coppers.Just to bring everything up to date, Medina is currently on trial again for two more murders — Manuel Dellosa and Ferdie Olmedo — two small fry allegedly in Pinoy Real, a Filippino gang in Northeast.So, as we started off saying, here’s our tip of the hat to Officer Dimitt for maintaining his cool and returning effective fire. Well done. And thanks for your service to this city.

FRIDAY, MARCH 07, 2003

STOP THE ELECTRONS. MAJOR UPDATE ON THE KENNY WILSON CASE.
As you all know by now, Wally Fay has been trying to peddle his Kenny Wilson and Robert Hightower racial homicide stories to every news outlet in LA with no luck. We won’t get into the reasons here and now as to why the LA media has ignored this racially motivated murder. We’ll leave that for the book. But we just learned that a major break just happened that may finally pull the other three shooters into the case. As you regular inthehat readers know, only Jose Delacruz is actually serving time for killing Wilson. Of the other three alleged shooters, Merced Cambero is still at large, (deleted) is doing 27 years in Corcoran on 4 counts of ADW, and Gilbert Saldana is facing murder charges on an unrelated case.But something big has just happened that may finally give Wilson’s family and friends the sense that justice has been done. Check back often. You’ll hear it here first.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 05, 2003

MCGHEE ARRAIGNED.
As we predicted, Timothy McGhee was arraigned on Monday, so apparently the LAPD’s support of the deal persuaded the DA. See the previous postings for details. Lo and behold, the prosecutor in this case turns out to be DDA Anthony Manzella. You court watchers no doubt remember that Manzella successfully prosecuted Samuel Shabazz in the Lori Gonzalez murder case (she was Bernard Parks’ granddaughter). In that case he ran 41 witnesses through in just 2 days of testimony and got a conviction. Manzella was also the prosecutor in the Santa Monica German tourist homicide. He got a conviction in that case as well. In fact, we can’t remember a case in recent history that Manzella lost. We’ll have to look deeper into this.McGhee was charged with just one count murder, that of Margie Mendoza. No doubt as the case develops, new charges will be filed. From his previous outings, we know that Manzella is nothing if not a bulldog. The Mendoza count will just be the tip of the iceberg. Look for further filings.

SUNDAY, MARCH 02, 2003

 
A PERSONAL POST ON THE PASSING OF A FORMER MUJAHADEEN
I’ll be attending a memorial service today for a dear Afghan friend who died this week of cancer, Sayed Hashemayer. He and the men in his family fought bravely on the side of freedom and justice in the Afghan war against the Communists. He migrated to the US after the Russians left and put three great kids on the earth, started a successful business in Canoga Park and brought his large extended family to California. Sayed was the kind of immigrant who made the US a great nation. We need more of his kind. He asked for nothing, achieved greatly through his own effort and intellect and was generous to a fault. The civic body has been diminished.Half way down the trail to Hell
In a shady, meadow green,
Are the souls of all dead troopers camped
Near a good, old-time canteen,
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddler’s Green.May the eternal one deliver Sayed to his Fiddler’s Green.

SATURDAY, MARCH 01, 2003

MCGHEE PROSECUTION PROCEEDING SWIFTLY.
In our previous posting we also said we didn’t know who McGhee’s prosecutor would be. We still don’t know. But we’re told it’s someone in Major Crimes and not Hard Core as we thought it might be. We’ll find out this week if they formally file on McGhee. The DA’s name is on the complaint and that’s public information. Whoever it is, he or she will will be under the bright white light of media attention. This is a career maker. Or breaker.In related matters, look for a connection between Toonerville Rifa (McGhee’s gang) and two other gangs, Rascals (Latinos) and Pinoy Real (Filipino). Apparently Rascals and PRs have made an alliance as a “strength in numbers” policy. They fear the constant predations and attacks from Toonerville. Characters in Pinoy Real and Rascals will apparently figure prominently in the McGhee case. As usual, more to come.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2003

MILLA SENTENCING CONTINUED TO APRIL 3
As it turned out, I was able to attend Marco Milla’s sentencing today. But as is usual in a case like this, the sentencing was continued. Next date is April 3. The judge is Fred Wapner. The defense apparently will ask for another trial and Milla will probably get it. If not that, then at least an appeal. Meanwhile, the courtroom was empty of media except for me. Amazing that the LA Times, the Daily News and the Weekly will completely ignore this one the way they did Kenny Wilson’s murder.As long as I’m on the subject, today is the day that the last of the big LA media have turned down my story on Kenny Wilson and Robert Hightower. In order of refusal we have the Weekly, the LA Times, the Daily News, Fox 11 News, CBS 2 news and now Los Angeles Magazine. Kit Rachlis’ assistant told me to I should go shop it somewhere else. Next stop, the out of town outlets.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2003

MARCO MILLA SENTENCING
Tomorrow, Wally or myself will be in Dept. 114 on the 11th floor of the CCB to witness the sentencing of Marco Milla. If you’ve been paying attention to the race homicides being committed by Latinos against Blacks, you no doubt know that Milla was convicted of the racially motivated murder of Robert Hightower. Mr. Hightower was 19 when Milla executed him on sept. 29, 2001. This is the second racial homicide the LA media has failed to report. The first was Kenny Wilson. We wonder how many blacks will have their lives terminated before the media wakes up and starts reporting these race killings?

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2003

 
THE CHIEF WANTS YOU DETECTIVES TO GO MAKE SOME ARRESTS.
Chief Bratton stated today that detectives account for 20% of LAPD staff, but they only rack up about 2% of arrests. He wants to see more hook ups and less time drinking coffee at your desks and reading the paper. That is what all you detectives do, isn’t it?We know that’s not the case. But we want to hear from you. In The Hat wants to know what you think of the Chief’s latest mandate. As always, confidentiality is a sacred trust. Send rockets to wallyfay@yahoo.com

WE’RE SORRY WE DIDN’T MENTION THE TASK FORCE.
It was brought to our attention that we neglected to mention the work of the Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Crime when we posted the item about the RICO conviction of PANCHO VILLA and the CLCs. Our editorial face is red. The Task Force, deep in their unmarked Fortress of Solitude, has been doing amazing crime fighting work for almost ten years now — and without much acknowledgement or recognition. Not that they want any, but we who know better, should have mentioned them and the work they did in delivering the CLCs to justice. Someday, the full story of the Task Force will be told and the people in the trenches, not to mention the stake out cars, the stay backs and the ones who do stuff we must not reveal will be fully and justly lionized for their work. Until then, keep at it. This town owes you.

YET ANOTHER MCGHEE UPDATE
We reported yesterday that LAPD and DA brass are considering cutting a deal with an unidentified convicted felon in exchange for his testimony against alleged multiple murderer Timothy Joseph McGhee, the Toonerville Ripper. What we’ve recently learned is that the prosecuting DA is apparently in favor of making a deal, while the brass at both agencies express concern. The concern revolves around this person’s credibility in court. They figure that a jury will not accept the word of known gangbanger and convicted criminal to help convict an even worse gangbanger and alleged murderer. We understand that the prosecuting DA is confident in his abilities to convince a jury. We don’t yet know who this DA is, but we’ll run it here as soon as we find out. It’s either somebody in Hard Core Gangs or Major Crimes. Anyone with further word on this, you know who to call — wallyfay@yahoo.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2003

WHO ARE WE?
We’ve received several emails wondering who we are and why we’re doing this. We’ll probably have to explain ourselves at some point so here goes. We are LA-based writers and journos who need to let the citizens of LA know what we know. You’ll see things on this site that you will not read about in the Times, the LA Weekly or in any other mainstream outlet. Where do we get this info? From you people. You send us stuff. We verify, more or less, and then it goes up. We’re only interested in what’s going on here in LA with the coppers, the prosecutors, the gangsters and the politicians. If you’ve got something big that’s happening in Milwaukee or New York. We don’t care. We’re only concerned about LA and the forces that are ripping this city apart.
For you coppers and prosecutors we need to let you know that we are not the LA Times. We don’t check with the ACLU to figure out who the bad guys are. Anything forwarded to wallyfay@yahoo.com is totally and completely confidential. Speak freely. The truth will set us all free.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2003

TURNER’S OUTDOORSMAN BUSTED ON GUN VIOLATION.
Turner’s Outdoorsman’s Reseda store was recently visited by an undercover officer from the gun detail who sold the store a subcompact Glock. As you should know, subcompact handguns have been banned in LA city. The manager who authorized the purchase of the gun intended to transfer it to their Pasadena store and sell it there. Subcompacts have not been banned in Pasadena. This is the latest effort in LA city’s efforts to shut down or drive out every gun store in town. You should also know that B&B and Pony Express both closed their doors last year and the only game in town appears to be King’s, which is technically in Burbank. That city has yet to launch an anti-gun campaign like LA. We don’t yet know if Turner’s will fight this in court or ag

TIMOTHY MCGHEE BACK IN LA.
Toonerville Rifa gangster Tim Mcghee was flown into Van Nuys airport yesterday afternoon after his extradition proceeding from Bullhead City. McGhee was on the US Marshall’s 15 most wanted criminals for having committed or ordered 12 murders in the Atwater Village area where Toonerville operates. He was escorted back by Detective Scott Masterson, LAPD Fugitive Warrant unit. You won’t read this in any other LA media but McGhee has a connection to the Mexican Mafia and will likely be received like a visiting monarch by the Eme shot callers when he hits County jail. The IO on the McGhee killings is said to be Northeast detective Andrew Teague who is also the IO in another very large case ready to go to trial in Superior Court. McGhee has been described as a compulsive killer who gets a real charge out of shooting people. Especially the unarmed and the innocent.
LA CITY COUNCIL VOTES AGAINST THE WAR
In one of the most disgraceful episodes in L.A. city history, the forces of the Left and the anti-American one-worlders have prevailed upon the city council to pass a resolution against going to war with Iraq. The effort was led by Eric Garcetti, the son of a disgraced ex-District Attorney Gil Garcetti. Garcetti will be remembered as the man who supervised the amateurish prosecution of double murderer O.J. Simpson, a slam-dunk prosecution that should have gone like clockwork. The son seems to be following the same muddle-headed path. An heir to the destructive ideologues that for the last forty years have eviscerated one of the greatest school systems in the country, emasculated one of the nation’s most respected police agencies, and have allowed generations of criminals to prosper and multiply, Garcetti proudly crowed that grandmothers, mothers and children were united in a great cause of stopping a war. City councils do not make foreign policy. So this was an entirely futile exercise that occupied two entire days of council time. Mr. Garcetti should be personally held liable for frittering away the time of our public servants. Mr. Garcetti morally preens himself with these empty symbolic victories while the city he serves burns like Rome. Mr. Garcetti’s constituents should immediately recall this tiresome fool.

THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN WHEN GUNS ARE OUTLAWED
A 79-year-old Torrance stamp and coin dealer shot and wounded a scumbag who tried to rob him today. The store owner, Kenneth Mahoney, had been robbed and beaten before but this time he was ready with a shotgun and knew how to use it. The robber’s name is Joshua Edward Reyes, 20, of Torrance. Lt. Patrick Shortall who was the IO on the robbery said it was a “robbery interrupted by by the victim.” We’d call it a failure in the victim selection process. Fortunately, we still live in a land where the lawful and free are not prevented from owning firearms. There is no guarantee this right will not be infringed by the spineless pols and Progressives who will not rest until they establish a totalitarian regime in what is the greatest country in the history of the planet. Know how to vote.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2003

 WORDS OF WISDOM FROM SANYIKA SHAKUR aka MONSTER KODY SCOTT
“Everything in my life has been subject to drastic change or subtle movement, without so much as a hint or forewarning.”
That pretty much covers the entire spectrum of human experience, doesn’t it? You’re either moving fast, moving slow or just standing still. Is he being deprived of another rate of change available to everyone else? And nobody gets a memo saying, “Dear Bob, you’re getting sideswiped on Wilshire tomorrow at 3:41. Please bring your insurance papers and a number 2 pencil.” Five bucks to whoever can explain this to me. As usual send to wallyfay@yahoo.com.

LIKE YOU’VE GOT A PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT?
Check out page one of the LA Times Feb, 20, 2003. There’s a picture of Mounir Motassadeq, just before his sentencing in Hamburg Germany. He’s the first of the 9-11 atrocity bomber to be tried. He was convicted of 3000 counts of murder. So the judges are standing there, stern and judge-like, and his attorney is looking very serious and thoughtful and this douche bag is looking at his watch while they’re telling him that for the next 15 years he’s sharing a cell with a skinhead from Swabia named Klaus. Are we keeping you from something, Mounir? You can almost see the two synapses in this guy’s brain firing. Slowly. “Hmm. Maybe I can get one last Fatwa in before Klaus starts calling me Fraulein. Damn, I forgot my INFIDELS MUST DIE t-shirt back in the cell. “
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL CLOSES ITS DOORS. FINALLY!
The legendary Midnight Special bookstore on the Promenade is packing up its Little Red Books and relocating to an as yet undisclosed location. No doubt we’ll soon hear they’re the victims of a CIA plot cooked up by Ashcroft and Bush the elder. While I hate to see any bookstore go Tango Uniform, in the case of MS, I’m toasting with Martinis and a big smelly cigar. MS was the number one purveyor of anti-Americanism in Santa Monica (except for Tom Hayden’s house) and it’s good to see the Stalin and Mao apologists decamp for other digs. In anticipation of the move, there’s a huge clearance sale. Che Guevara mouse pads are 50% off. Noam Chomsky portraits on black velvet at an amazing 70% off already discounted prices. Folks, they’re redistributing them away. Act now because supplies are limited. Customers will be served strictly in the order of their level of oppression.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2003

Father Gregory Boyle published an opinion piece in the LA Times (The Mythic Enemy, LA Times, December 15, 2002) that left me scratching my head and I heard it raised a lot of eyebrows over at the US Attorney’s office on Spring Street and at the DA’s office. He’s wrong about so many things that I just had to take him on.

Boyle refutes the statistic that there are “100,000 gangbangers” in LA. He makes a distinction between “bangers” and “members.” He claims that those who actually commit crimes are the bangers and only represent a small percentage of the total gang member population. He says that if all members were bangers, the murders attributed to gangs would be much higher than the 300 currently reported. That’s true as far as murders go. But that’s true of the general criminal population as well. The number of killers in the Italian Mafia is miniscule compared to the number of wiseguys that comprise the gang. Only a tiny percentage of any given criminal group actually kills.

But Father Boyle overstates his argument when he says that “only a small percentage of the estimated 100,000 gang members in Los Angeles are responsible for illegal gang activity.” That’s clearly not the case. If that group responsible for murders were the same group responsible for all illegal gang activity, these individuals would be the busiest people on the planet.

The implication Father Boyle makes is that the “member” population stands around doing nothing while this handful of killer “bangers” does all the drug dealing, intimidation, home invasions, strong-arm holdups, extortion and carjackings. And these over-achievers are never caught? Common sense would tell us otherwise.

The fact is, of that 100,000 population, almost all the members are involved to some degree in illegal gang activity and contribute to the overall problem. For instance, even if the lowest level member does nothing more nefarious than sell a few bags of pot a day, he has to pay his taxes to the local big Homie. That Homie in turn provides protection to his dealers from neighboring dealers. If the dealer doesn’t pay his taxes, he’s killed. Those taxes support overall gang activity. That’s how the Big Homies who run the neighborhoods can stay in business. That money supports the organization. So even just dealing “harmless” drugs like marijuana is a significant contributor to illegal gang activity. So for Father Boyle to say that only a small percentage of that 100,000 are involved in illegal activity is far from accurate. The low level dealers and members form that base of support without which the medium- and hard-core gangsters could not exist.

He also points to the “myth” of “multigenerational” gang membership. He claims this aspect of the gang culture is false and for proof, he indicates that of the thousand gang members per month that walk into Homeboy Industries, it’s rare that he encounters someone who’s family has been in gangs for generations. I believe that and it’s consistent with everything I’ve learned and is contained in the gang literature. It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with gang culture.

What Father Boyle doesn’t seem to grasp is that the gangster who has been indoctrinated into the gang culture since he was in the crib will never walk into Father Boyle’s office. Look at it this way: if your grandfather, father, all your uncles and all your brothers are in gangs, and the men your sisters and aunts marry are in gangs, and your cousins are in gangs, it would be a rare and courageous individual indeed who can turn his back on that and try to live a straight life.

Chances are, a member of such a family was probably “made” by La Eme as a young man. One of the rules of the Eme is that you only leave when you die. I can point out to Father Boyle a number of “made” carnales who turned their backs on crime and found Christ. They’ve been “greenlighted” for execution. In an audiotape made by the FBI during he investigation that lead to the Alex Aguirre prosecution, an Eme brother is recorded talking about another brother who left the Eme and became a minister. Even though the minister had no intention of ever ratting on his former associates, La Eme still greenlighted him for death. The made guy on tape said there’s “no getting out of this motherf**cker (meaning La Eme). Not Jesus, not nothin’ gets you out.”

So sure, Father Boyle never sees evidence of multigenerational gang membership. The overwhelming evidence, however, indicates the opposite to a degree he can’t imagine. The gangs aren’t just generational. They’ve spawned a self-sustaining alternate culture. Gang culture now has its own websites, music labels, magazines and social events. I urge Father Boyle to investigate some of this and he’ll see family albums of pictures with kids in diapers holding .380 pistols and wearing “southside blue” rags. The tragedy is that by the time that baby handling the .380 for his baby album enters his teenage years, he’s probably beyond redemption and rehabilitation. His gangster parents have already scarred him so deeply that it would take nothing short of full-on brain-washing to get that kid back to normal. Is it any surprise that type of child doesn’t walk into Homeboy Industries? Or the nearest church, or Victory Outreach or any other outreach program?

Father Boyle also takes exception to the police branding a young man as a “gang associate.” He states that “this designation is officially given to kids who come to the attention of law enforcement but can’t be linked to any gang.” He also states the “label is hard to shake, appearing in law enforcement databases and station-house files.” This is far from the truth and frankly, Father Boyle should know better.

What Father Boyle is talking about is the statewide gang database that was started by the LA County Sheriff’s office many years ago. First of all, young men don’t get put in the database on the strength of one contact with the police. Or even two or three contacts with the police. The way it works is like this. When a young person is first observed associating with known gang members, he’s warned that the people he’s associating with are gang members and that he should stay away from them. Very often, the street cop will also contact the family and warn the parents about their son’s association with criminals.

More often than not, cops tell me, the families become angry at the cops for “picking” on their son who wasn’t doing anything and only hanging out with his friends. The breakdown starts right there. The families, the only people who can really do anything significant about heading off a potential problem, do nothing, or don’t do enough or are just ignored by a rebellious young man. Alerting the families is part of the “prevention” and “intervention” Father Boyle desires later in his article. But law enforcement never gets credited with that.

That procedure of warning an individual is conducted three times. If after the third warning that person continues to be seen hanging out with gangsters, only then does he go into the database as an associate. However, his standing as an associate does not follow him around forever as Father Boyle implies. If there’s no police contact with that individual for three years, the name falls out of the database. Unlike the Mexican Mafia who will only let you out if you die, the state-wide gang database throws you out when it stops hearing from you. Father Boyle’s claim that inclusion in the database and being an associate is an “invented label” that is “hard to shake” is false.

Father Boyle also states that you’re either “jumped in or you’re not” and implying that there’s no middle ground in the levels of gang membership. Look at it from a merely common sense point of view. Is a gang going to jump someone in without some period of evaluation to make sure he’s got the heart to be a gangster? Does Father Boyle presume that a gang will let anybody in? Before being jumped in, members have to prove themselves to some degree. Part of the period of proving themselves involves a lot of hanging out with gangsters. And that involves drinking, drugging and committing crimes, albeit on low level. They don’t let anybody in unless they know them. And to know them, you have to associate with them.

Therefore, to state that the term “associate” is “invented” by a law enforcement system that hasn’t “known what to do with the teenage neighbor or young cousin seen standing and talking with a gang member” is disingenuous in the extreme.

Father Boyle also fails to mention that the LAPD has a Youth Advocacy Program that tries to find alternatives to prison even after a young person has committed a crime.

I’ll quote Father Boyle’s next assertion in full because it’s misguided in so many ways that only a full quote will do.

He states, “The Los Angeles Police Department has also railed about the prison influence being exerted on gangs. But of the gang-related homicides this year, I’d wager that none was orchestrated from within prison walls. Gang violence is usually random and impulsive. To insist that gang member are puppets manipulated on the streets by prisoners behind walls is to not acknowledge the intrinsically haphazard nature of gang violence and the utter despair it reflects.”

Father Boyle either does not know his gang history or refuses to accept it. Granted there are “impulse” killings committed by gangsters. But the proof of murders ordered from prison is overwhelming. In a Federal case that targeted the Mexican Mafia, the FBI, LAPD and LASO recorded over 700 hours of audio and video conversations. Most of those hours were between Mexican Mafia members in jail and associates on the street. In the same case, they intercepted over 8,000 phone calls made in a three month period from prison to just one phone number in Father Boyle’s own neighborhood belonging to Shakey Joe Hernandez. Those conversations weren’t just to bid salutations to friends and family. They were to conduct gang business – realigning drug territories, relaying intelligence and ordering assaults and murders. In anybody’s interpretation, 8000 calls in a three-month period to just one phone number indicates a tremendous amount of control and muscle flexing.

To refer back to an earlier point, that phone number belonged to a “camarada,” a gang associate who acted as a telephone switchboard relaying messages into and out of the jail system. That person was a known “associate” who’s only previous criminal history was low-level drug dealing. But he was hanging out, talking to and generally interacting with known gang members. The term “associate” is well-deserved and a valid tool of law enforcement.

Father Boyle is also wrong when he talks about gangs being “disorganized crime” and therefore not a suitable target for RICO prosecutions. RICO laws were effectively used in Northern California against a number of street gangs and in LA they were successfully used to dismantle a large chunk of the Mexican Mafia starting with cases dating back to 1995.

Street gangs are responsible for selling tens of thousands of pounds of illegal drugs. They collect millions of dollars in drug sales and millions more from “street taxes” on dealers. They have safe houses out of state and in Mexico. They procure guns from oversees as Kody Scott stated in his book, “Monster.”

To provide just one example, when Ernesto “Chuco” Castro was arrested in the early 1990s, the LASO found a concrete and steel bunker buried under his house. In it, they found $30,000 in cash, dozens of semi-automatic and full-automatic military weapons, drugs of every variety and hundreds of pages of messages from jailed Eme members to their associates on the street. That $30,000 was just part of the take for one week of street taxes. All this activity, no matter how you look at it, implies a high level of organization. The average gang may not be as rigidly structured as Fedex but they are far from the freewheeling goofballs Father Boyle would have us believe.

I agree with Father Boyle about gang members and associates not being puppets. They are all too human and, unlike puppets, they want to live. They know that if they don’t do the bidding of the powerful Homies, in and out of prison, the consequences are death. So indeed, they are manipulated. I can cite dozens of cases of gang members coerced into committing major crimes are the bidding of jailed convicts.

I’ll quote Father Boyle again. “People in poor urban parts of Los Angeles often don’t cooperate with the police because they don’t know the police.” With all due respect, this is utter nonsense. They know the police. But they also know the gangsters only too well. By cooperating with the police, they put their heads in the noose. Ana Lizaraga was executed by the Mexican Mafia for cooperating with law enforcement to help clean up her neighborhood and for consulting in the making of American Me. The guy who killed her was ordered to do it by an Eme member in prison. It doesn’t take many examples like Lizaraga for people living in ganglands to keep their mouths shut when the cops come around asking questions after a crime.

Father Boyle is something of a sacred cow in LA. But you have to wonder how a guy who’s so close to the gang culture get his facts cross-threaded