Tuesday, April 1, 2008


At the prodding of my dear friend, COP Jon Elder, I am writing about an extra ordinary person. Yes, this person had been a murderer and yes, he had also been a member of the Mexican Mafia. He like a few men that had enough of the madness of the organization, decided to come over to our side to fight the very group that they swore an oath to behold. They obviously could not become members of law enforcement, but they helped put away several members of the Mexican Mafia legally. (Either testifying in court or giving us the needed information to turn others that came to our side)."Mundi" had a "persona" about him that made you want to believe his sincerity when talking to him. He was straight forward in answering the questions, and if he made a mistake, he would later bring it to our attention. We, at the Prison Gang Task Force (PGTF) had an occasion to take him to eat or drink, (he was of course on parole, but as far as I knew he did not have the 1 B condition (no drinking) attached to his sentence.

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.


Anonymous said...

More, More, More! Really enjoying the stories. I know you have more,, Keep them coming...

Anonymous said...

You mention the "Trailer" often, I evision the trailer as a place where magical things happened.A white metal object, with a steep short stairs that led into a single metal door. Inside, you might find a metal desk, old metal chairs and soft lighting. Perhaps, some metal filing cabinets with a pad lock attached that housed the trailers secrets. The 60' had ended and the style of the 70's were in full swing. This means no men in blue uniforms, just 70's style clothing. Men coming and going and maybe some people who observed the activity said to themselves, "What type of business is going on inside the trailer"? the trailer probably just stood by itself and no reference to what it was all about. No place cards, no name plates no special parking just a sqare metal building. No signs outside, just a place where secrets were held. Sure you give us bits and pieces of information, but the real intel is foreverlocked away within the trailer walls. Today the trailer is probably melted down, sold for scrap and nobody knows how history was made. so today I pay tribute to the "Trailer". A place where magic, sorrow, joy and all of the human elements of emotion is stored, never to be fully disclosed and forever kept in secret.

Moco said...

To the person who wrote the comment on the "trailer", it appears that you were there. You describe it pretty much the way it was. If you look at the tab labeled good times, that is the way we dressed. It allowed us to fit in (sometimes). And your right about no "blue suiters" this was to protect the identity of our informants. Most policemen like to talk, especially at the donut shops. And again, most of our work was done in secret, but a few trusted news media persons were allowed access. Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I came across the website where pictures were posted. interesting reading, from the guest book signatures. I decided to come here to your blog. i have found this subject matter to be quite interesting. Many books are being written about Prison gangs today, but you seem to be an insider who first realized the potential problem years ago, Now everybody is an expert. If you would be so kind as to share more stories about the leaders of the prison gangs back in the day and specualte on who is a shot caller today, it would be helpful to quinch my thirst for this type of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of the film donnie Brasco.A FBI agent who befriends a mobster guy that ultimately led to his death. In the movie it revealed the heart of the FBI guy for the mobster guy played by Al Pacino. I know some of these very evil men could never be your friend, but what I find interesting is how you managed to remove your sense of friendship from this particular person.These must of have been great times. At times this person Varela, was more sincere than the 3 Presidential candidates. why is it that evil men like this become more believable than what I see on TV?

Anonymous said...

I remember the first time that I met Armando "Mundi" Varela. I had completed almost nine years of working in the narcotic enforcement group, and was now assigned to the newly created Arizona Prison Gang Task Force, this was in the early 1980's.

A friend of mine, Manny, who was still working narcotics came to my office and said, "Paco, now that you are working the prison gangs, there is someone you have to meet.
He was "tipped" up (joined) with the California Mexican Mafia." Manny then warned me that if this guy doesn't take to you, you'll know it, so don't worry about it.

We then left in my undercover car to one of the older barrios in Phoenix. As we were driving down a side street, Manny pointed to what looked like a small shack that set off by itself with a long driveway leading up to it. I turned into the driveway and Manny walked up to the door. Soon both Manny and "Mundi" came walking toward my car.

It was summertime in Phoenix and very hot. "Mundi" was wearing blue Dickey Pants and a white tank top which clearly showed his prison tattoos. His hair was white as snow and combed back L.A. style. I immediately noticed he walked with confidence and never looked directly at me. Having grown up in the Los Angeles area, I sensed that he was an old and experienced veterano.

Manny got into the back seat and "Mundi" rode shotgun in the front and still had not looked directly at me. Manny made a cursoru introduction and "Mundi" looked straight ahead.

I backed out of the driveway and headed to a stop sign at the end of the block. It was then that "Mundi" slowly turned in my direction looking straight at me with the coldest eyes I have ever seen and said, "what do you want from me ese?" His stare and the tone ofhis voice caught me off guard. It seemed like an hour went by before I answered with, I need a little schooling. I thought I detected a slight smile, and "Mundi" responded, "schooling, I like that."

That was the start of me spending many hours with him teaching me how to work the prison gangs. The "GEMS," that "Mundi" taught me have helped me throughout those years including the present. I believe I was the last law enforcement "buddy," as my friend Moco puts it, to have seen "Mundi" before he past awayat the county hospital in Phoenix. I visited him a couple of days before his death and one of the last things he said to me was, "Paco, I'm in the pine box, my time is up." I will never forget him, he was one of the fiercest men I have ever met. ... Paco