Saturday, July 26, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
He told us about a scam that the Aryan Brotherhood had put together back in the late 1960's, early 1970's. Here is how he discribed it. The Aryan Brotherhood members had a tow truck and had two of those magnetic signs, one on each side of the doors. The sign had the initials AB Towing. (Now if that is not original, nothing is). Jimmy said that the driver would drive around towns looking for the big heaviest vehicles he could find such as Buicks, Cadillacs or Oldsmobiles parked on the street. The driver would simply back up the tow truck to the vehicle and hook it up to the tow truck and drive away.
Jimmy said that the driver would take it to the Long Beach or San Pedro salvage junk yard near the port where old automobiles were dismanteled and turned back into steel or shipped over seas. Jimmy said that before it was taken inside the yard, the driver would check the inside of the car and the trunks. Sometimes the driver would find money, guns and even drugs. The driver would then take out a hammer and break the windows and dent the car to make it look like junk. The license plates had also been removed...moco
Monday, June 23, 2008
The main focus of this article is to advise all those in the criminal justice field of one of the outstanding associations that exists, the INTERNATIONAL LATINO GANG INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION. I would be remiss if I left out some of the others as they too are also fine associations. The ones that I have been associated with are in alphabetical order, ARIZONA GANG INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION, (AGIA) the CALIFORNIA GANG INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION (CGIA), the SECURITY THREAT INTELLIGENCE NETWORK on GANGS(S.T.I.N.G.) out of Colorado, and the TEXAS GANG INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION (TGIA).
The ILGIA has been fortunate to have had two of the best presidents in the business, "Gabe" Morales who got it started, and now Nelson Arriaga. With all these resources, I would find it hard to believe that there is a reason that some of those in the criminal justice field should be in the dark about what is going on with street gangs and those in prison gangs. The info is out there for the asking. A lot of the different states have set up similar training sessions, and those that haven't it behooves those in these fields to advise their departments to see if they can be sent to one or more of these training sessions ... Moco
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Any cop worth his salt, knows that a good informant is worth his weight in gold. Again, it is up to the cop to set the parameters of what his informant does or doesn't do. Of course, there are good and not so good informants, the good ones will be loyal, the others will go to te highest bidder even if the informant knows that the cop would sell him out.
We handled a mass of them during the early days of the Prison Gang Task Force and they told us of the other cops wanting to have the informant work for them. That is what I mean by loyalty.
Sure we had our share of informants that lied to us, but they didn't last long. On the other hand we had some that were more believable than a few cops that I knew over the years. Yes, they can be a pain in the ass and sometimes everything in their life appears to them as a major tragedy, when in fact it is only a minor set back.
I don't remember if there were any classes on HOW TO HANDLE AN INFORMANT or not, but it appears that in some departments, is is direly needed. Like Richard points out(paraphrasing),"a human life should be in the utmost of the cops mind when he uses the informant. I realize that this may sound basic to most cops, however, the proof is in the untimely death of what could possibly been prevented ... Moco
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Every time a "shot caller" is taken down, someone steps up to take his place. No, the Mexican Mafia is not lacking for those who desire to climb the ladder of destruction, or recruiters to bring in more of their kind to continue their criminal acts.
Along these lines, we keep hearing stories from some of the drop-outs of things that they could not have possibly been involved in as they were not around during some of the time periods that they talk about. For example, during the numerous times that we surveilled Joe Morgan, and during the three times that I was present during his arrests, some of these drop-outs claim they were so close to him. We never saw them at any of the locations Joe Morgan had been followed to, nor were their names ever mention in any wire taps that we were asked, "do you know this name, or that name."
An interviewer has to know that some of these drop-outs embellish the story to make them appear more than they are. Sure, some of these drop-outs have valuable information, otherwise they would not have been selected by the investigators in the first place. I am just saying, "don't believe everything told to you, remember, the bottom lines is they are Mexican Mafia members and remain so until their demise. The Prison Gang Task Force was not exempt from some of these stories and got "sucker punched" on more than one occassion.
I can hear the critics now, "this is all well and good, but what is the solution to the problem?"
If I knew that, I could make a lot of money. We just have to keep chipping away, like the drug problem, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Eventhough the session was for one day only, it was a success. Another of my friends, Kerry Pople gave his talk on Prison Gangs, and he too is one of the best in the prison life of the various gangs behind the walls. We only had 10 books left from the previous order and they sold out in about an hour. All in all, it was areal good seminar.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I also had the opportunity to meet several of those in attendance. Just to mention a few, Todd De Palma and his girlfriend Amelia, Antonio Rodriguez, William Dunn, Martha Salazar, Cisneros and his agents from Chihuahua, Mexico and many others.
I know a lot of the members cannot attend all our seminars, but they should try to go to as many as they can. I have attended as many as I can, and I have yet to be disappointed. Our next annual one will be in San Antonio, Texas in August 25/28. I will tell you this; please do try to make it. I can guarentee it will be well worth the trip. They are again lining up some of the best presenters in the business. I was in San Antonio for the last two weeks in May. and was at a strategy meeting with the San Antonio faction of ILGIA and they are going all out to make this a memorable session.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to be invited to the Arizona Gang Investigators Association's first annual conference in Phoenix. I was invited to sell copies of my book - The Mexican Mafia, The Story. It was a wonderful conference with over 400 people in attendance; real good for the first one. Everything was first class, from the speakers to the food service. While sitting in the lobby, I could not help but reflect on my early days at the conferences we put on. There were a few major changes that have taken place over the years. For instance, several women investigators attended this conference. We had none. I also could not help seeing several of the investigators entering and exiting the conference room while answering their cell phones, again we had none.
We of course did not have these new contraptions. Our "cell phones" consisted of the old 4 pound radio we used on surveillances so as not to tie-up the unit radio that was being used for regular police functions. Of course we did not have computers, or the micro tape recorders now used by many investigators. We relied upon the old clumsy reel to reel to record during some of our interviews.
It was also good to see so many "youngsters" in the group. They remind me of "sponges". (This is ment as a compliment, not as being disparaging.). Everyone has to start somewhere, and it is important to know, as my dear friend Robert Marquez so eloquently said, "Nothing is absolute." I interpret this to mean: check out and recheck the sources of the information given to you ... even then it may not prove to be perfectly true.
The bottom line is that the training presented today is up to date, with some of the generational info included to give the new "Pepsi generation" a look into the past, for without the past, one cannot determine the future. ...Moco
Monday, April 21, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
One of the reasons this person was suspicious to Officer Delia was that on this hot day, this person was wearing a heavy trench coat. An earlier court ruling said that an officer could no longer have a person stopped for investigative purposes and order the person to roll up his sleeves to be inspected for illegal drug use.
As Joe was in the process of a "pat-down" to insure that the person did not possess any weapons, Joe felt a soft bulge under the person’s shirt. Joe thinking that this was the man's stash of narcotics started pulling at the bulge. The man shouted at Joe that this was not his stash. At that very time, the bulge was yanked out. To Joe's surprise, it was the man's colostomy bag and it was full. Joe not only got most of it on him but also on the man he took it from. Needless to say, the man was not arrested, but Joe had to go home and change uniforms.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Several of us PGTF members had an opportunity to be alone with Mundi and had the benefit of de-briefing him on a one on one interview. He was very sharp when it came down to dates and who was involved in certain crimes.
As a cop, I cannot call him a friend, but an ally in the fight against the Mexican Mafia. Whenever he got lonely, he would either call us or just drop in at the trailer operation. One day after being placed into the Federal Witness program, he decided to leave that area, and came back to Monterey Park to one of the watering holes that he was familiar with, Agostino's Restaurant.
He did this all because he missed being around his new found police "buddies" and had no one else to talk to.
We let him hang around and drink for a couple of hours and then got in touch with the Federal Marshall's office. They blew a gasket when they found out about Mundi's shenanigans. He was indeed, a very interesting eMe killer.
Mundi later ended up in Arizona, where he helped out a dear cop friend of mine, (Frank "Paco" Marcell) that also has some interesting stories to tell.
I waited until after he died to tell this story for obvious reasons. May He Rest In Peace.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
We never told them what to write, or asked to see their drafts of the stories. The persons from which I speak of are Joe Ramirez formally from television station KNBC, Steve Mallory, and the late Don Harris. There was one other that wrote stories for Reader's Digest, Nathan Adams.
Don Harris produced a video in 1974, entitled the PRISON GANGS. This film was a reality look at the Mexican Mafia. This film later became a training film for officers involved in fighting the prison gangs. This film also won several awards including the Peabody Award from Columbia University. Steve Mallory did another video on 1976 on another prison gang known as the Nuestra Familia. This also was one of the best documentaries on this gang that I have seen to date.
Joe Ramirez reported stories about this gangs on live television that he researched as a reporter for KNBC. These were also of the best quality.
Sure there are a few writers today with this same integrity. Two that come to mind are Chris Blatchford, and Bill Richardson from Tempe, Arizona.
I have recently read some stories written by others and for the most part was accurate. I have let those writers know that what they had written on the Mexican Mafia were right on.
The bottom line is that the news media can be an effective tool for law enforcement; but one just has to be cautious as to whom they trust with the story.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Don Harris was a brilliant story writer and video producer of the best prison gang documentary that has come out to date. He had an understanding of mankind both good and bad. Don was very forthright and when I first met him he laid it on the line. He said that he had heard about the Task Force operations and wanted to do a story about the inmates in prison and in free society. He said that he would appreciate working with us, but that he would do the story without our help, but wanted to get the facts straight.
We checked out his credentials which were impeccable. We decided to allow him access to our files and interview our informants. We also took him inside the prisons and down to Tijuana to interview Joe Morgan’s crime partner, Harry Gamboa Buckley. (Buckley refused to be interviewed, but Don was satisfied with our attempts.)
We worked on other stories with him and became good friends. Don told us about a madman preacher that had taken his congregation to Guyana where he felt that he would not be pursued nor persecuted. Don said that Congressman Leo Ryan had received letters from family members of preacher Jim Jones that complained that their relatives were being abused. Congressman Ryan decided to go to Guyana to check out the story, and asked Don if he would care to join him.
Don was telling this in front of Chief Jon Elder who felt this could be a very dangerous assignment and told me to give Don my bullet proof vest.
We later learned from newspaper accounts that upon arrival in Guyana, they were met at the airport by armed guards who escorted them to see Jim Jones. They apparently talked to a few members of the congregation, but could feel the tension in the air. As they were leaving, a car followed them back to the airport. As they were about to enter their plane, the men that had followed them suddenly and without warning shot all of them. Don may have survived the shooting, but to make sure they were dead, they shot Don in the head with a shotgun.
After this, the men returned to Jim Jones who was sitting at the table making sure that his entire congregation, 908 members were drinking the cyanide laced kool-aid that he had prepared. Jim Jones then killed himself by using a gun.
The real tragedy here was that this madman took away at the tender age of 42, one of the kindest, brilliant men that I had the honor of knowing. RIP
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
As we assembled the various pieces of the puzzle, we could not come up with enough to arrest him. We, (law enforcement) made several arrests of employees, and investigated the deaths of some of the employees but could not connect him directly to any of these activities. He had political clout, as did a few other similar agencies.
We went so far as to include the media, but this too was not enough, until the Get Going Project started to catch heat. I was there on the day this man's project closed, so was a young Lieutenant and his Sergeant from LAPD. We were indeed happy, why not, we had taken down one of what we considered the eMe's strongholds. (It was actually the LA City Councilman, Arthur Snyder whose relentless pursuit that made it official.)
I could go on and on, but I will bring it to a close in the next few paragraphs.
It was around 2002 that I was asked by CIA, an informant of mine (Not the Central Intelligence Agency), to meet with this man. I was leery at first for good reasons. This man certainly knew who I was, even my former boss COP Jon Elder told me he thought it was a bad idea, I wouldn't be the first man that this guy had murdered.
We met in a Denny's Restaurant in Newport Beach, California. The man was as awesome then as when I first started pursuing him. It took about 1/2 hour to clear the air, and we both agreed that what happened in the past should be put behind us. He told me that he had became a born-again Christian and was trying to change the attitudes of not only the kids on the street that were leaning to get into the gang life, but also going inside the prisons to talk to gang members telling them there was a better life through Jesus Christ. He seemed sincere, and I tended to believe him. We talked about how this action was needed and must have talked for a couple of hours.
We met several times after this meeting. We never discussed eMe business per say, if I knew something about a person or incident he would just look at me and smile. From this, I knew it must be true.
He was in the process of writing a book, which I never had a chance to see, because he died before it was published.
I had given him a copy of my book and his comment was that it was written by someone who knew what he was talking about, one who would have had to have lived it to tell it as accurate as portrayed. He even liked the fact that I corrected the part about "Pie Face" being his Padrino. He was not, but when asked, he said that he swore never to divulge that information, and he would take it to the grave; he did.
His name is Rafael "Chispas" Sandoval, ex-director of the COMMUNITY CONCERN CORPORATION. As Paul Harvey says, "now you know the rest of the story".
Monday, February 11, 2008
"Wish I had pictures from my early years with TDCJ, I could top this. During an AC (Aryan Circle) and MM (Mexican Mafia) war in 1996, I caught 3 inmates going o the outside recreation yard. They were looking rather "buffed-up" (inmates who work out a lot tend to get big muscles).
Of course they are routinely searched before going to the recreation yard and were found with 1/2" - 1" thick magines sewn together with thread and wire to form a vest under their uniforms that covered from just below the throat to below the waist band. If that wasn't enough, they even had fashioned a type of shin guard from the same material. Thanks went out to the family and citizens concerned for their "mental stimulation" enough to send the mags to the poor offender.
Oh, and they were "laced up" meaning they each had "picos" (shanks, or stabbing devices), secured inside their boxers, tied up to their draws by a strong woven thread so it would dangle just below the crotch. (We had to be very careful to always strip search since a shank in that area would obviously injure the searching officer.)
During the HPL (Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos) and the TS (Texas Sydicate war, I later found some HPL members at the Garza Unit with "pens" in their pocket, which they innocently carried in their uniform pockets. Upon perusal, we found the blades from standard pencil sharpeners wedged and melted into the ends of the ppens cartridges (ink cartridges removed or chopped off to disguise the weapons. (Pencil sharpeners have very strong blades, about the width of 5-6 razor blades, and quite a bit sharper. They make a good throat slasher.) The cap remained in place and they tried to look like a bunch of "nerds", but their intent was to attack the TS members...Such is the life in prison. Stay safe out there.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Although I personally find them distasteful, maybe due to my age (73), I must admit that some of them actually are quite fasinating. They come in all sizes and shapes. Most of the ones that people see are done by persons that work/own a tattoo studio. These tattoos are brightly colored and depict such innocuous things such as flowers, animales, fruits, etc.
The tattoos that I want to talk about are not so innocuous, in fact they are quite harmful and even deadly, if used by those non-members of various prison gangs, outlaw motorcyle gangs etc.
I remember receiving word from a CDC (Cal.Dept.of Corrections) employee that said that a new inmate was received at Folsom Prison in the early 1970's wearing the emblem of the prison gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood. The inmate was held down by several AB members while one used a sharp shank to cut the tattoo of his chest. Most prison gangs take it personal when a non member takes it upon himself to use what they consider a copy righted symbol.
It is easy for the trained eye, (especially a gang officer) to distinguish a prison tattoo from a free world tattoo. Most of those older and some newer prison tattoos are made with Indian Ink using any kind of pin or needle to penetrate the skin. Over the years there have been ex-cons and
street gang members afflicted with the hepititus C virus. (This virus attacks the liver and can cause death.)
Here are just a few examples of weird places on the body that I have witnessed or have been told to me by reliable persons:
On the inside of the lower lip; behind the ears; on the neck; on the ear lobe; between the fingers; on the top of the head; and the best (worse one), was on the penis of an old time Mexican Mafia member who was recently murdered in a bar. This was discovered by a policeman who was booking the member in on a narcotics charge.
I am sure there are many other places but these are the ones that I know about.
Friday, January 25, 2008
To the person that is incarcerated, it takes on a series of other meanings. Space; time; not discussing politics of ones' gang; mad dogging, etc. (These can also be interpreted as showing the lack of, or dis-respecting).
The bottom line is that this seven letter word can save one's self or get one killed depending how it is used. A person in the inside can actually be not guilty of committing an act, but to the one who feels dis-respected, it doesn't matter.
The reason that I am bringing this out, RESPECT or DISRESPECT is that in my humble opinion,
some of the prison gangs are coming apart because of it. In the beginning, when the gangs were starting out, there was a certain respect for those that had been around for a longer period of time than the "new inmates". This is one of the reasons that the term "Shot caller" came into existence. There was a respect for their word over others. Most of the "shot callers" were either older "veteranos" or wise for their ages. As time went on and these older inmates went to the federal prisons, died, or became informants the gangs had an influx of youngsters who did not want to take orders from "vietos" (old men) and started pushing their weight around and lost respect for them. Amongst themselves, they believed that they commanded respect when in fact, they in actuality receive little.
Because of this lack of respect, not only amongst themselves but from other gangs, this once the all powerful prison gang will collapse. Law enforcement has been battling them for half a century, but up to a few years ago it had some tough leadership, but now it is like an old friend of mine said back in 1972, "it is like a ship upon the sea, without a rudder".
Saturday, January 12, 2008
"Joe Green", not his real name, decided to capture the attention of those in charge of this feeding program. Joe filled several envelopes with his feces and mailed it to them. Needless to say, the recipient's were not pleased at all.
All his mail was scrutinized after this.
Friday, January 11, 2008
This is not to say after awhile, even Sicilians got into the act.
The early members of the Mexican Mafia also stood their ground. Even when our first "turn-around," Carlos "Pie Face" Ortega told us about the inter-workings, the other members denied the existence. Those members knew, or felt that anyone who violated the eMe trust would be eliminated and their secrets would remain intact. When "Pie Face" testified against a fellow Mexican Mafia member, Gilbert Pedro "Shotgtun" Sanchez, there were several other members that said "Pie Face" did not know what he was talking about. "Pie Face" had been voted into the eMe some 6 years earlier. "Shotgun" was found not guilty and alot of people did not believe that such an organization such as the Mexican Mafia existed.
Another member, was Mike "Slim" Mulhern. After his arrest with the late Frank "Chivo" Buelna, Mike adamently refuted claims that such an organization existed. He also would later give it up. He testified against a high ranking member of the Hell's Angels. Then there was Michael "Acha" Ison. He was a major player from the San Francisco area. In a taped interview with Steve Mallory, he flatly denied the existence of the eMe. Yes, he too gave it up.
There are several other major "shot callers" such as Ramon "Mudo" Mendoza, Rene "Boxer" Enriquez, and others of lesser positions within the eMe that have turn against their fellow members. Some claim born again Christians, others for whatever they could get from the tax payer through the witness protection program, time off their sentence or what have you.
The bottom line is that when one has his back against the wall, and the price is right, most anyone will take what he feels will better fit his need.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Some of the best pencil drawings, and paintings that I have seen over the years have been done by inmates. A good example is look at the tattoos that most of the ex-con display, intentionally or not. Most of these two examples are done with some of the crudest tools that they themselves make or have other prison "genuis's" make. I have heard guard after guard, including myself say on ocassions, "this guy could make a lot of money if he would only put his mind to work on the streets instead of wasting away in here."
To get back to "Pete", we arrested him at his home back in the early 1970's. The other cops and I were busy being excited with finding pictures of other convicts, some on the run, some not. As we were about to leave his home, I noticed a small, maybe 10" X 14" painting hanging on the wall. I was facinated with it and asked him what it was about. He told us that it summed up his entire life. I can't remember all that was on it, but here are some of the features:
At the very top was a human skull which represented his pending death. Beneath it was a hypo syringe with a few drops of blood coming out. This represente his drug addiction to heroin. There were numbers, 1, 5, 10, that stood for the years he spent in prison. Two clowns, one smiling and the other crying. He said that it meant Smile now, cry later. It also had the Ace of Spades, which he said was the card of death. He said many times he felt like he was going to die of an overdose, or being killed by someone over a drug deal gone bad. He just recently died in an automobile accident...