Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Thirty-five years ago I never thought that I would be writing this. You see, I was one of the many cops from several agencies that were trying to put him back in prison. It was amongst other things that I thought this man was what I termed the "Communicator" for the eMe. Some of our informants agreed. I was told that he was using his agency for criminal activities. Most of the investigators, including myself agreed on this point. I know that the Prison Gang Task Force did everything in it's power to discover all we could about his agency and most of his employees, in fact I even had an inside man (an ex-con) who passed on anything he heard.

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".


Anonymous said...

Please share more of these stories. They are very interesting and like to know more about the original shot callers of EME. where their lives ended and their "great" contribution to society.

today's investigators are re-writing history of the real facts and looking to become experts! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I too will miss "Chispas", The few times I met him were nothing less than memorable! The explaination of the Actors extortion is noted! And that story will also come to light!
Thanks Moco, for letting me be part of your Inner Circle!

Adios Amigo

You Know Who!

Moco said...

It is hard to pick up a newspaper and not read about some reporter being found out about the story that he wrote was plagiarized. Is this a sign of the times? In my book I wrote about the news media persons who we allowed to visit our trailer operation. They were indeed few, but they had the integrity to tell the stories we gave them. They were factual and sometimes these persons were allowed to talk to our informants. These persons spent enough time with us to know what we had going on was an honest attempt to bring down this new phenomenon known as the Mexican Mafia.

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.

Don Harris produced a video in 1974, entitled THE PRISON GANGS, this film was a realty look at the Mexican Mafia. This film later became a training film for officers involved in fighting the prison gangs. This film won several awards including the Peabody Award out of Columbia University. Steve Mallory did another video in 1976 on another prison gang known as the Nuestra Familia. This also was one of the best films on this gang that I have seen to date.

Joe Ramirez told stories that he research as a reporter for KNBC. These also were of the best quality.

Sure there are a few writers with this same integrity; Chris Blatchford is the only one that comes to mind at this time, so does Bill Richardson out of Tempe , Arizona .

I have recently read some stories written by others and for the most part was very accurate. I let those writers know that their stories were right on.

The bottom line is that the news media can be an effective tool for law enforcement; one just has to be cautious as to whom they trust with the stories.

Moco said...

Here is my answer to the anonymous signer asking about what has become of some of the original “shot callers’. There probably is not more than a handful still living. A few of them became informants, others are dead.

“Cheyenne” was murdered by the Nuestra Familia members at Palm Hall Chino in December 1972.

Joe Morgan died of cancer in 1993. Mike Ison was beaten to death in San Francisco after engaging in an argument with some youngsters.

“Shotgun” Sanchez died back east.

“Robot Salas” died of cancer in Baldwin Park, California.

“Topo” Peters died of cancer in prison.

“Chivo” Buelna was shot to death at a bar in San Bernardino County, California in November, 2007.

“Tati” Torrez was stomped to death at ADX Florence Colorado by members of la eMe in 2007.

“Chispas” Sandoval died of cancer in Los Angeles on 02/12/2008.

Several are still in state or federal prisons. I believe all those that chose to become informants are known by the now “shot callers” and since most of them are under the witness protection program, I will not name them until they die.

jbrad926 said...

Please tell me more about my friend Chispas.

Moco said...

To jbrad926, Rafael "Chispas" Sandoval was an educated man and despite his early years as a gang banger and having spent many years in prison, was also a husband and father. According to his wife Lourdes, he did his best to provide for them. I spent so time with him and sometimes he would bring his wife along to various restaurants mostly in the Newport Beach area. In my mind and others in law enforcement that met him were convinced that he was not "play acting" in regards to his dedication to turn some of the youngsters lives around from their gang life. If some of the readings are trying to find out if he was a so called "snitch", they can forget it. When we talked, it was only to confirm or deny statements or rumors told by other persons of interest. Just as I reported earlier, he wouldn't give me the name of who sponsered him into the Mexican Mafia. "Chispas" also was, and I believed him a born again Christian. He revealed this in many ways. He believed in Jesus Christ, and mentioned that when the end came, he would end up in heaven. There is no need to go into his criminal past, it would serve no purpose. I hope this answeres some of your inquiry, thanks for responding...moco

Anonymous said...

Would you please give me some more information on tati torrez. I would like to know how accurate you are on his info. I was really close to him.