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Retired Chicago PD Gang
Detective, Joe Sparks and King County, WA, Gang Specialist Gabe Morales just
released a new book entitled “Chicago Based Gangs: Beyond Folks and People”.
The writers expose important information useful in developing a thorough
knowledge and working grasp of gangs which have now spread to all fifty states
and beyond the US.
Here are a few exerts:
It is interesting, many
of the city’s first gangs consisted of different volunteer fire departments
that competed with each other. Some of the first documented Chicago street
gangs were Irish, many of whom, also ironically later became cops or politicians.
There were Irish gangs such as the Dukies and the Shielders who raided the
railroad yards, stock yards, and preyed on their own as well other immigrants
like the Polish, Germans, and Jews. Sometimes the Irish gangs were referred to
as “Mickies” referring to the high number of Irish surnames that began with
In Irish communities,
sponsorship of gangs by politicians and businessmen transformed them into so
called “athletic clubs” like the Hamburg Club, Ragen's Colts, and the Old Rose
Athletic Club. Based in saloons and clubhouses, and often claimed membership of
over a hundred men ranging from their late teens to early thirties. By the turn
of the century, Italian/Sicilian gangs began to take over the crime rackets.
The first Vice Lord
teacher was Edward “Pep” Perry. He first tried to join the Imperial Chaplains,
but was rejected so he started up his own group the “Phantom Burglars”. Once he
was locked up at the Illinois Youth Center at St. Charles, Pep and six other boys
decided to form the Vice Lords. According to legend, Pep stated “The White man
was always the lords of vice. It’s now time for Black people to be vice lords.”
The Sixties are known
for many things: assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther
King, the King riots, the Democratic National Convention riot, and the Vietnam
War protests, but to Joe Sparks, it was a decade of explosive growth for Black
The Vice Lords actually
started in the late 1950s in St. Charles Juvenile Corrections Facility (Charlie
Town). But they became the gang that others emulated in the 1960s after many
where released and went back to their West Side neighborhoods. They are the
oldest and second largest Black street gang and one of the founders of the
People Nation. Bobby Gore, along with Blackstone Rangers (El Rukns) Jeff Fort,
Black Gangster Disciples under “King David” Barksdale and Larry Hoover, and
Latin Kings led by “Lord Gino” Colon became legends.
The late 1960s was also
the period of one of the bloodiest gang wars Sparks can remember. Besides the
BGDs and Blackstone Rangers killing each other, both sides where killing
innocent youth who wanted no part of gang life. Some were actually dragged out
of their houses and assassinated because of it.
In Spark’s professional
opinion, Black gangs invented gang banging in Chicago while the others, White
and Hispanic gangs, were years behind when it came to organizing, politics,
money making, dealing narcotics, etc.
As Gabe Morales
recalls, the 1980s were known to many in the gang world as an expansion period
of Crips and Bloods out of California. But “Rock Cocaine”, also known as
“Crack”, which fueled growth of California groups was also readily available on
the streets of Chicago and it was mostly local gangs that dealt it.
According to a Senior
DEA official who worked Seattle during the late 1980s to early 1990s, law
enforcement actually made the gang situation worse in some ways. Many of the
local kids not wanting to be Crips or Bloods gravitated to “Knowledge” or
“Literature” kicked down to them by Chicago gangs, in particular Black Gangster
Disciples (BGD). Thus, many local peer groups converted to BGDs. In fact, there
are more BGD/GDs today in the Greater Seattle area than any place west of
In 1989, the Seattle
Police Dept.’s Drug Task Force found many active BGD members. BGDs also
communicated within WA-DOC. In 1993, at a Washington State Prison, a letter was
confiscated by staff that was being sent to the head of the BGDs to ask for
explicit official approval for local groups to act in concert with the Chicago
They have uncovered, in this book, the
important historical development of Chicago gangs, their roots, their politics,
and their propaganda. This book further goes beyond this foundation and
provides essential insight, often through personal experiences of the authors,
into the pathways of these gangs and their violence to help younger cops and
communities learn more.
The story sounded
familiar: Another White cop gets off the hook killing an innocent Black man!
Or maybe it was this:
See I told you so, Blacks just can’t accept that they have to follow our laws!
They are two stories
told from two opposing views, often having more to do with personal experience,
where you lived, and your own politics than the facts of the case.
In one version, on
August 9, 2014, Officer Darren Wilson drove up and harassed Michael Brown, a
young Black man, for no other reason than walking in the middle of the street.
The Officer hit Brown with his vehicle door, shot at him for no reason, then
gave chase and finished off the teenager outside of the squad car with several
shots to the torso and head while Brown was retreating with his hands up to surrender.
In the other version,
the 18-year-old Brown reached inside Officer Wilson’s vehicle hitting him in
the face and tried to grab his gun. In fear for his life, Wilson began shooting
at Brown from inside the vehicle, then fired fatal shots outside after he had no other choice.
Which story is the
truth? The answer to that question may be biased by the race of the opinion
It also comes down to
whether or not you have a lot of faith in the American judicial system.
The majority of Whites
in this country tend to think of the system as being fair, but not perfect.
Many Blacks in this
country feel the system is racist, unfair, and far from perfect as history and often their own personal experience has
Some witness accounts
were conflicted about whether Brown walked, stumbled, or charged back toward
Wilson before he was fatally wounded. There were also differing accounts of how
or whether Brown's hands were raised. His body fell about 153 feet from
Wilson's vehicle, quite a distance, and that is where the story varies the most.
Wilson told jurors that
he initially encountered Brown and a friend, later identified as Dorian Johnson, walking in a street and when he
told them to move to a sidewalk, Brown responded with an expletive in defiance.
Johnson stated that Wilson was rude and yelled to them, "Get the fuck on the sidewalk!" Wilson then noticed that Brown had a handful of cigars, "and that's when
it clicked for me," he said, referring to a radio report minutes earlier
of a robbery at a nearby convenience store. The store managers appear to be
people of color. Store video showed Brown handing a friend cigarillos then
snatching some more from behind the counter, close to $50 dollars worth in all.
Make no mistake about it, Michael Brown was no angel, by this point he already committed a misdemeanor that he escalated to a felony crime when he fought with the store manager. If you believe Officer Wilson, Brown was about to commit several more felonies that led to his death.
Wilson said he asked a
dispatcher to send additional police, and then backed his vehicle up in front
of Brown and his friend, later identified as Dorian Johnson. As he tried to open the door, Wilson said Brown
slammed it back shut. Wilson said he pushed Brown with the door and Brown hit
him in the face. Wilson told Grand Jurors he was thinking: "What do I do
not to get beaten inside my car?"
Later, pictures were
taken of Wilson’s face which shows a red imprint, about the size of a fist, on
the right side of his face, not the left side that would be facing out on the
driver’s side. Perhaps Brown hit him with a left hook as Wilson was talking to
him from inside the vehicle. The photos also showed a red mark to the back of
the neck; Wilson stated that he was hit two times in the face. He also made a
reference of Brown being like huge famed wrestler “Hulk” Hogan and that he felt
like he was a five year old kid holding on. Wilson is not a small man, they are about the same height, 6-foot-5-inches, but the 289-pound Brown
was bigger by approximately 82 pounds in weight.
"I felt another
one of those punches in my face would knock me out or worse. I mean, it was,
he's obviously bigger than I was, and stronger, and the—I've already taken two
to the face, and I don't think I would—the third one could be fatal if he hit
me right." He then stated, “I drew my gun," Wilson told the Grand
Jury. "I said, 'Get back or I'm going to shoot you.'" Wilson went on
to say, "He immediately grabs my gun and says, 'You are too much of a
pussy to shoot me,'" Wilson told Grand Jurors. He said Brown grabbed the
gun with his right hand, twisted it and "digs it into my hip."
After shots were fired
in the vehicle, Brown fled and Wilson gave chase. As the bullet wounds would
show, at some point, Brown turned around to face the officer. Brown was not armed and he was not shot
in the back. Why somebody who had already been shot at close range by the
police vehicle would turn around and charge the officer is also puzzling.
Perhaps Brown was under the influence or perhaps he was just turning around to see
how close the pursuing officer was and stumbled as some say.
But, the undeniable fact is Brown lay dead in a pool of his own blood.
A Grand Jury considered
the case for three and a half months. It heard testimony from numerous
eyewitnesses and saw forensic evidence. It heard from Officer Wilson but there
was no cross examination and few Jury instructions. Grand Juries are usually
secret proceedings, so if you are a believer in government corruption and
conspiracies then you were probably already suspicious.
Critics of the process
had already called for a Special Prosecutor to be appointed instead of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert “Bob” McCulloch handling it.
It was already expected
that many people, especially Blacks, would be angry about the Grand Jury announcement. So
in a departure from tradition, McCulloch,
who has strong family ties to law enforcement, walked through the timetable of
events and promised to release a complete account of what the Grand Jurors
heard and saw. Those who doubted the Grand Jurors' decision would have a chance
to weigh the evidence for themselves.
Indicting Wilson or any
Officer in this country is difficult because Police Officers get wide latitude
when they use “Deadly Force” in the line of duty. A 1985 Supreme Court decision
gave a green light to Officers to use deadly force when they reasonably believe
their own lives or the lives of others are threatened, and Missouri state law
is even more permissive. In Police Academies all over the nation, Recruits are
trained to use this force only as a last resort. Many modern departments and
national police watch dog groups encourage Officers to deescalate situations
when possible, not to shoot down unarmed civilians.
If one is to believe Officer
Wilson, the Prosecutor, multiple Autopsy Reports, the forensic evidence, and
multiple reliable witnesses who just so happened to be African-American, then
the killing was justified after Brown hit Wilson, tried to grab his gun
(forensics showed Brown had gun powder residue on him and Wilson had Brown’s
blood on him and vehicle evidence showed shots were made at close range), then
Brown made a "full charge" at Wilson before he was killed.
But to police critics, certain things
still don’t make sense, even though the Grand Jury's conclusions appear
reasonable if one believes the Prosecutor. Questions remain: Were 12
shots necessary to subdue Michael Brown or was it excessive force? Was there
some other, non-lethal way to control the suspect? Why didn’t Officer Wilson
wait for back-up? If the Officer was scared, as he admits, did he overreact and
empty his service weapon on Brown? Was he scared of Black people or just defending himself?
Almost as important
as these questions is a startling fact, police shot to death more people in the line
of duty in 2013, than any time in the last two decades. A total of 461 people
were killed, many of them Blacks.
It is also true that
assaults and deaths of Officers in the line of duty is up, 105 or 76 killed in
2013, depending on how you classify the deaths as being “in the line of duty”.
Many of the suspects in Officer deaths were charged or will be. There are no official
numbers on how many police killings lead to indictments or prosecutions, but
the unofficial numbers back up the widespread belief that few Officers, less
than 2% are ever charged for shooting and killing someone when they're on the
job. Add to this, the fact that Blacks are locked up in prisons and jails in alarming
disproportionate numbers makes many Blacks fear, not respect cops.
Some reports show that police
arrest African-Americans at rates 10 times greater than any other race, so it's
little wonder that majority-Black communities such as Ferguson believe that
police often act in biased ways and that killings such as Brown's grow out of
that prejudice. Adding to that, police forces tend to be predominately White,
often former military servicemen, even in cities where the majority of the
civilian population is Black, like Ferguson. This leads some to view police as
being an “Occupying Force”.
After the verdict was
read, some people understood the anger and disappointment that some people must
have felt, especially the Brown Family. But why burn down sections of the city
where Blacks live and work? Large White businesses were probably insured, it is
Mom and Pop businesses, often Black owned that suffered the most. It also appears
that many of the rioters were outside agitators who hate all cops. Police said
more than 150 gun shots were fired by agitators in Ferguson during rioting that
followed a Grand Jury’s decision.
Violence came despite
pleas from officials in Missouri, the Brown Family, and even President Barack
Obama who encouraged calm in a speech from the White House that was televised
side-by-side with pictures of police clashing with demonstrators in Ferguson.
Seattle Mayor Ed
Murray referred to the events as “the murder of Mr. Brown” and said that many
outside the African-American community share the “tremendous hurt” at a Grand
Jury’s decision not to indict the Police Officer who killed the teen. Known for
his bluntness about race, the Mayor argued that American society is “failing
young African-American men,” and said it is time to “recommit us to making this
a more just city. … Our community is committed to racial and social justice in
Seattle had its own
controversy on August 30, 2010, after the killing of Native-American woodcarver
John T. Williams on a downtown street. As with the Ferguson Shooting, no
charges were brought against Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk who later resigned
from the force.
The local Jurors for the Brown case, whose
identities were kept secret, were 75% White: 6 White men, 3 White women, 2
Black women and one Black man. St. Louis County overall is 70 percent White,
but about two-thirds of Ferguson's residents are Black.
The Grand Jury could
only determine whether probable cause existed to indict Wilson, not decide whether he
was guilty or not. Obviously, Jurors found they lacked probable cause that
Officer Wilson committed a crime, let alone having enough evidence to convict him beyond
a reasonable doubt.
Larger societal issues
and pent-up frustration remain after the decision and likely will linger for years to
come. The dialogue about race and culture should continue, but unfortunately many
people will retreat back to their perspective camps until the next incident
occurs, again taking polarized positions, but doing little about it.
One local young Black man
who appeared in a national TV interview after the rioting probably said it best, “In
order to change the system, we must become the system. In order to change the police,
we must become the police. In order to change the laws, we must become
Ferguson brought some very
important topics up, but death, destruction, and violence in one's own
community is not justice, it just continues the injustice.
A new book written and compiled by veteran
Colorado-DOC Gang Intelligence Lt. Steve Lucero and Gang Expert/Writer Gabe Morales
covers "Chicano Gangs and History of the Southwest U.S."
They start off with the
Mexican–American War, an armed conflict between the United States of
America versus the United Mexican States, that took place between 1846 and 1848.
During this war, U.S. forces quickly occupied New Mexico and California, then
invaded parts of Northern Mexico and ultimately rode into Mexico City securing
victory for the United States. The former Mexican citizens in these lands became American citizens overnight but most did not get rights promised and many had their land stolen.
They then describe "Bandidos"
of the latter half of the 19th century were often depicted in the media and
books as either being fictionalized and romanticized “Latin Lovers” who were lazy and
seduced women or shown as murderous, blood thirsty, no good thieving outlaws. Others
said their criminal acts were committed as “social bandits”.
The book then delves
into the evolution of Chicano Gangs from the Pachuco Era who were torn between two
worlds and created their own culture, to the Vatos Locos, many of whom momentarily took on a spirit
of Carnalismo and joined the “Movimiento” for Chicano Rights, to Cholos who
regressed into gang banging, and the Homies of today who often prey on their
The book then breaks
down this modern day chaos state by state and suggests that perhaps a new “War
Against Gangs” or a “Moratorium on Violence” should take place in the Southwest
United States. It is filled with historical pictures and first-hand accounts of
how things got so out of hand and how we can prevent, intervene, and suppress violence
for youth in the future no matter what color.
The problem of illegal immigrants is not new. Illegals have been coming
into the United States since 1776, but what has changed over the years is the
countries of origin that they come from.
Today, they tend to be browner and come from the south instead of the east.
More than 60,000 have come since January, 2014, many of them being minors who
were traveling alone. This year has seen a 117 percent increase in the number
of unaccompanied children under age 12 caught at the U.S.-Mexico Border,
compared with last year.
Growing poverty, unemployment, and drought in Central America all play a
role in the current surging immigration numbers. Also a factor, is the false belief among many
children that U.S. immigration laws will allow them to remain in the United
States if they can just get into the U.S.
What many people don’t know, it is the gangs of Central America (a rare
American export), that are behind much of the disinformation. If young children
travel north they are charged a human trafficker fee by the gangs, if they don’t agree to
pay they can be killed, held for ransom as kidnap victims until family members pay up, or forced to “mule” drugs across the border "to pay off their fee".
The main groups behind this push are the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio Diesiocho (18),
both gangs being very active in Central America, that have their early roots in Los Angeles,
The Barrio 18 (or 18th Street) gang, is the older of the two. Both
formed in and near the Rampart District of Los Angeles. Barrio 18 formed in the
mid-late 1960s and was a mixed race gang that included a lot of Mexican Nationals.
These were recent immigrants, or the children of recent immigrants who banded
together to protect themselves from more established Chicano gangs like Clanton
Street. Soon, 18th Street became the biggest Hispanic gang in L.A.
Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) formed in the 1980s after Salvadoran youth, many
who wore their hair long and looked more like Stoners or Heavy Metal enthusiasts
than thugs, banded together to protect themselves from predominately Mexican
gangs like 18th Street. Soon, they started to resemble the more
common "Cholo" image of Chicano/Mexican-American gangsters. Soon, other Central
American youth and even non-Central American youth began to join MS.
As members of both gangs were deported they started large factions in their
home countries, mainly El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. While they were
known for being violent in L.A., they took it to another level in Central
America. They literally ran some neighborhoods and penal institutions!
Recently, there was a peace treaty between the two groups in Central America after years of
bloodshed, fighting over neighborhood turfs, and violent riots that left scores
dead. Many experts feel these “overtures towards peace” were really just
extortion attempts at Central American governments if the gangsters promised “not to act
out.” They previously extorted everything from taxi cab drivers, bus drivers, to
mom and pop stores. In addition, as Mexican Drug Cartels used overland cocaine routes
from South America, they tapped into the drug trade and protected drug routes. They
also worked with “coyotes” or human smugglers, often jumping young boys into their
gangs and forcing young girls into prostitution.
The increased role they’ve played lately is telling young and desperate kids
that their ticket to riches and fame is to come with them to the border, cross
into the United States, and then they’ll have it made for the rest of their life. Many of these youth get caught and
placed into detention in the U.S.
The problem is, as one Mexican Consulate member stated recently in private, many
are too young to communicate well even in Spanish. Some are as young as five
years old! They are scared, afraid to trust anybody (as has been ingrained in
them by the violent gang members), and legal proceedings can be very long and
complicated. It can take months before they can get help.
“Immigration Reform” is once again a major issue in Washington D.C. and along
our southern border.
Both Democrats and Republicans point the finger at each other in the growing
polarization and game of American politics with little action; meanwhile, little children suffer, both at
the hands of our government and that of Central American gangs.
"Don't Mess with Texas" is co-authored by veteran gang expert Juan "Johnny" Santana who went after the Texas Mexican Mafia, also known as the Mexikanemi, and other gangs. There are many more contributors in it who worked first hand combatting Security Threat Groups in the Lone Star State.
The shotgun slayings of five people in a San Antonio home in August of 1996 called the “French Street Massacre” apparently came on the orders of "Beaver" Perez. Nine other killings over the previous three years were also blamed on the notorious Texas prison gang. The RICO indictment accused the Mexikanemi of routinely dealing drugs, robbing, extorting and assaulting. The quintuple murders, the worst mass murder in modern San Antonio history, apparently stemmed from an order to rob the house. It was given out by Perez, a top lieutenant in the organization, who wanted to be General. The gang was after drugs and a large sum of money it believed was at the residence. The bodies of five people were discovered, all shot in the head execution-style......
Inv. Santana called the El Paso FBI Office and contacted an Agent ironically named Ruben Barragan. The Task Force now had another strange possibility of the intended target. This agent knew Hershey and further advised that in the mid 1990’s Hershey had been a TMM Lieutenant in charge of a hit squad for the Mexican Cartels in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. For some unknown reasons, Hershey had issues with ranking TMM members in San Antonio, Texas, and subsequently they placed the “Green Light” on him. Hershey prophetically told the agent that he expected some day that San Antonio was going to send someone to kill him and it looked like the day had come. The agent advised Santana that he would make attempts to reestablish contact with Hershey in light of the unfolding events. He also advised that he would place his squad on high alert in case something went down.
On November 2, 2001, The Task Force intercepted a call in which the Mafia members discussedtravel plans. Rodriguez, Guerrero, and their Captain Ruben “Low” Herrera scheduled their trip for the following morning. That meant that Santana, along with other Task Force members, had to do the same. In the calls they never mentioned weapons, so it was assumed that the members in El Paso were probably going to provide the hit team with weapons. The Task Force also assembled a team for Long Range Moving Surveillance (LRMS).
On November 3, 2001, the Task Force staged at 5:00 AM and went to Carlos Rodriguez’ residence on the West Side. Rodriguez was followed in his rented Trail Blazer to a house deep in the West Side. They saw Rodriguez, Guerrero, and Herrera enter this house and they stayed inside for a short period. When they came out, there were no discernible weapons. Rodriguez then went to some project housing and did the same thing. Surveillance was difficult in these crime ridden places. Finally the Task Force got on to Highway I-10 West and proceeded to follow him to El Paso with an entourage of government vehicles tailing him...
After about an hour later the San Antonio Task Force received a phone call from the El Paso Task Force advising that they had lost them. This was very frustrating. There was a group meeting, finally Santana and team decided to return to San Antonio. They drove over 1,110 non-stop during the operation and they were tired. Agent Barragan was also unsuccessful in contacting the intended target.
It was later found out that Rodriguez and his associates had made the El Paso Task Force surveillance team and had crossed over into Mexico, then reentered the U.S. side, and returned to San Antonio. This operation was very anti-climactic, but looking at the positive end of things, at least we foiled their plan and nobody was hurt. Hershey was not mentioned ever again.
book gives an overview of all of the major gangs in Texas and includes personal
stories and insights from investigators who actually worked many cases. It is a
must have for anybody who deals with gangs in Texas or interested in combatting
Gangster's Paradise: Gangs in the Pacific Northwest was written by national gang expert Gabe Morales with a Foreword written by local Gang Detective Joe Gagliardi:
In many places, a certain mindset seems to be prevalent with gang cops: "This is my gang intelligence. I gathered it, and I don’t want to share it." These types of cops believe that if they were to share this knowledge with their peers, it would somehow diminish their personal gang expertise, thereby diminishing their own usefulness. In fact, quite the opposite is true: the more you share, the more your peers will keep coming back to you as the “Expert”. After all, you’re the one that gathered the information in the first place…While others are just learning about stuff and repeating that information, you’re already out acting upon it, gathering new information, and you’re already way ahead of the game.
Gabe seems to intrinsically understand this dynamic. When I first reached out to him, he immediately started feeding me information on local gangs and gang members. He knew that I had nothing to "trade" and he expected nothing in return. My knowledge of the local gang culture literally doubled overnight when Gabe sent me his personal profiles of the main gangs that were active in my area, recent gang bulletins from other law enforcement agencies, and even which areas had higher concentrations of gang activity. As you can imagine, this information gave me a huge head start when I finally started my field training with KCSO.
Gabe's reputation and willingness to share "his" information was nothing new...
When you mention the Pacific Northwest, the first thought many people have is lots of trees and rain. It does have those things, but also a multitude of climates and different terrain. Unfortunately, as you have seen, this little piece of paradise also has street gangs who had thousands of victims.
At the turn of the century gang wars still existed, they just looked a little different from the Irish, Jew, or Italian gang wars one hundred years earlier. This time it was not Italians “whacking” the Irish, but murder was still occurring as street gangs searched for a reason to hate.
Salvador “Chava” Nava, a member of Yakima’s Varrio Sur Locos (VSL) committed the murder of a rival Norteno Antone “Tony” Masovero in 2001. Nava was accused of shooting Masovero, age 21, in revenge for the fatal shooting days earlier of Victor Serrano, a VSL Sureño better known on the street as “Smurf.” Masovero, who was linked to Serrano’s slaying, was shot twice in the head as he and several friends sat in a car outside a taco stand on Nob Hill Boulevard. At his autopsy, authorities noted he was wearing a red belt with the number 14 on it, the 14th letter of the alphabet being the letter “N” which is a symbol for all Norteños....
An early-morning jogger found Milam's bullet-riddled body with a blue Kango hat on the street in the 5200 block of 57th Avenue South just past 5AM on October 17, 2005. Police detectives found a spent 9 mm shell casing at the scene, a cigarette butt and a blue cap with powder burns indicating Milam was shot in the head at close range. Other evidence, including bullet fragments, were recovered from Milam's body, and led investigators to believe he was shot by at least two different guns. Detectives sent the recovered shell casing and cigarette butt to the Washington State Patrol Lab. In January, 2006, the lab matched DNA from the cigarette and the shell casing to Norman, a convicted felon who was already serving time for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Soon after Milam's death, detectives learned Norman and an associate, both members of separate Central District gangs, were the last two people to ever see Milam alive. At the time, both men said they had been with Milam at a friend's house, hung out, and then dropped him off at a Central District intersection. They told police they had no idea why he was killed.........
One of the main focuses by law enforcement in Washington State over the past two decades was to create a state-wide gang data base to track validated gang members for safety and security purposes. Veteran law enforcement and corrections and staff assigned to gang units or who worked gangs on a regular basis knew there was a “strong need to identify security risks to be pro-active for their safety and for that of the general public”.
When dealing with any criminal, law enforcement must use caution. When dealing with violent gang members, people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and those with mental health issues or who are severely distraught during domestic violence calls, the consequences can be deadly.
This in-depth book covers the history of gangs in the Pacific Northwest like no work ever before. It is filled with pictures and details that only an insider would know. The Author has interviewed many gang members, cops, and corrections to bring you up to speed on who's who and what's what on the street...you won't be able to put it down!
In late March, 2014, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow was arrested on the streets
of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Prior to his takedown, Chow’s Ghee Kung Tong
organization was infiltrated by the FBI for five years. After the bust, he was charged with money
laundering and conspiracy to traffic stolen goods in a far-reaching federal
indictment that included over two dozen other defendants. To the shock of many, the indictment also included California
State Senator Leland Yee.
Chow was born in 1960 in Hong Kong and nicknamed "Shrimp Boy" by
his grandmother due to his small stature. He soon made up for his physical size by gaining a large reputation.
Chow joined a gang in his native Hong Kong when he was only nine years old after he
stabbed a guy. Sources say Chow was then inducted as a youngster into
an organized-crime group in Macau. He came to the United States at the age of 16, soon dropped
out of high school, and became involved with the Hop Sing Tong gang in San Francisco.
When Chow was 17 years old he survived an attack
by a rival gang called the “Joe Boys” at the Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant in
Chinatown on December 4, 1977. The attack was soon referred to as the “Golden
Dragon Massacre”. The incident left five people dead and eleven others injured, none of
whom were gang members, and it shocked the entire community. The assault was supposed to be a retaliation assassination for the death of Joe Boys member Felix Huey who was killed in a
shootout with the Wah Ching in Chinatown's Ping Yuen housing project two months
earlier. Both attacks led to the creation of San Francisco PD’s Asian Gang Task Force that still exists today.
Chow was locked up for a series of
crimes starting with a robbery conviction in 1978. He was released in 1985, but
in '86 Chow was charged with 28 counts of assault with a deadly weapon,
attempted murder, mayhem, and illegal possession of a firearm. He served three
years in prison and was released again in 1989. In 1992, Chow was arrested for
racketeering and charged under two separate trials. The first was for
illegal gun sales and the second was for prostitution, drugs, and money
laundering. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 24 years but he blamed many
of his acts on just following orders under pressure from Peter Chong, head of the powerful Wo Hop To.
Prosecutors alleged that Chong, along with Wayne Kwong, and Shrimp Boy, planned
to murder Boston Chinese underground figure Bike Ming in an effort to form new
umbrella organization called Tien Ha Wui ("Whole Earth Association")
that would dominate crime in Chinatowns throughout the United States. Chong fled to Hong
Kong just days before his indictment in 1992 for his role in the plot, but he was extradited
to the U.S. in 2000. After Chong was captured, Chow turned on his old boss and
cooperated with authorities, testifying against him in exchange for a reduced
sentence. As a condition of his release, Shrimp Boy surrendered his visa. He requested witness protection but his request was denied by the prosecuting attorney.
When Shrimp Boy was released from prison in 2003 he claimed to be reformed. Chow's professed recovery and youth work earned him praise from such politicians as California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein.
But according to federal authorities it was all an act.
In the current case, lawyers
believe most of the 29 defendants will say they were illegally entrapped by the
FBI, but they emphasized entrapment won't be part of Chow's defense.
defense theory based on the investigation we have is that there was no entrapment
because he didn't do anything wrong," Defense Attorney Curtis Briggs said.
Ironically, prior to his arrest, Sen. Yee was a gun control advocate. He was charged with attempting to buy automatic firearms and shoulder-launched missiles from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines. Prosecutors allege he was desperate for more campaign money in his efforts to run for Secretary of State for California.
In the meantime, the FBI's interest has expanded
to San Francisco City Hall and is far from over.
Feared drug lord
Rafael Caro-Quintero, released from a Mexican prison in 2013 after serving only
twenty-eight years of a 40 year sentence for drug trafficking and the 1985 murder of
U.S. DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, as well as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera,
head kingpin of the Sinaloa Cartel, were both born deep in the hills of Mexico’s
In the mid-1970s,
when "Operation Condor" was launched, 10,000 Mexican soldiers were sent to a region
dubbed the Golden Triangle where the mountainous areas of Sinaloa, Durango and
Chihuahua meet. The operation began in 1975 under intense pressure from President
Richard Nixon's Administration that started the U.S. “War on Drugs”. It is
rumored that American advisors and DEA agents directly participated on the ground
and that American pilots took part in the spraying of chemical defoliants on illegal crops.
The commander of the
operation was hated General Jose Hernandez-Toledo who had taken part seven years earlier in a
violent massacre of college students in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco Square. To many people,
Operation Condor was just an extension of other Latin American cold war
counterinsurgency tactics that had successfully liquidated rural
guerrilla movements like “El Partido de los Pobres” led by Genaro Vasquez and
Lucio Cabañas in the Mexican state of Guerrero in the early 1970s.
The brutal repression
tactics used by the Mexican Army in the Golden Triangle left a legacy of
violence and hatred for authority and the Mexican federal government that continues to this
very day. Although widely touted as being successful in objectives of destroying vast
quantities of drugs on the ground, the operation was seen as a
overall failure in that the flow of drugs into the U.S. was not stopped. Most of the
traffickers became rich and were able to leave the region while the rural
poor left behind suffered greatly.
It also solidified
Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) in the area and throughout all of
Mexico. While the concentration of the crackdown was on the Golden Triangle
area, Mexican DTOs were forced to move their operations to other regions and
the DTOs carved Mexico up into "Plazas".
Mexican drug lords
began appearing as soon as drugs in the U.S. were first outlawed in the early 1900s. To the
traffickers it was a matter of supply and demand and a good way to make a living.
The life and death of Jesus Malverde has not
been historically verified, but according to local legend in Culiacan, Sinaloa,
Mexico, he was a “Robin Hood” type of bandit who was hanged by the authorities
in 1909. This was just prior to the
Mexican Revolution of 1910.Since
Malverde's “death,” he has been considered a hero to Sinaloa's poor highland
residents; many of whom earn a living through drug trafficking. It is from many
legends like Malverde and real life drug traffickers like Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman
that current Mexican drug lords have tried to portray themselves not as
villains but as heroes to the people. Local musicians even played
"Narco-Corridos", popular folk songs of homage to people like them.
The outlaw image caused
Malverde to be adopted as the patron saint of the region's drug trafficking
business and he was dubbed a “Narco-Santo.”Malverde even has a shrine in Culiacan, Mexico, that attracts thousands
of people each year.The Catholic Church
does not recognize him as a saint but many of the people do.Narco-traffickers also often pray to Malverde
for safe passage of their load (narcotics) to the U.S.In addition, many drug traffickers pray to
the image of La Santisima Muerte. This translates into English as “The Saint of
Death”. Statues, alters, and other paraphernalia relating to this image are
increasingly found in Mexico and in the U.S.
To understand this fairly new phenomenon read Tony Kail’s book, “Santa
Muerte: Mexico's Mysterious Saint of Death”.
The greatly feared
Sinaloan Cartel was run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera, Ismael “El Mayo”
Zambada, and Hector “El Guero” Palma-Salazar who was arrested June 1995, in
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, at the home of a police commander.Over 30 federal police officers were also
arrested for providing him protection.Palma-Salazar was extradited, placed into federal custody, and put on trial in the U.S. for drug
trafficking charges. He was confined at the U.S. Supermax-ADX
prison in Florence, CO, with a maximum release date of July 16, 2016. Meanwhile, “El
Chapo” was arrested in 1993, but escaped in 2001 from a Mexican prison in a
laundry cart with inside help. This was just before he was about to be extradited
to the U.S.
Once freed, Chapo grew his drug trafficking organization into the best in the world!
After 13 productive years of being
on the run, Chapo was capturedin early
2014 by Special Forces of the Mexican Navy in the bustling seaside resort city
of Mazatlan. He was caught while asleep in the early morning hours of a modest high-rise condo with
his wife, a young former beauty queen named Emma Coronel-Aispuro.
So what does this mean
for Mexican DTOs and drug trafficking into the United States?
The Sinaloa Cartel is
characterized by many strategic alliances. Legions of young people would rather
die in Mexico fighting for Chapo than, as early 1900sMexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata said,
“living on their knees”. Foreign criminal groups like Mexican-American street
gangsrun drugs via Sinaloa's
distribution hubs in Chicago and Los Angeles as well as other U.S cities. When
one such large network was taken down in the “Windy City”, violence soared up
as Latino and Black gangs fought over the decreased supply and increased drug demand.
Inside U.S. penal
systems and out on the streets, prison gangs like the Mexican Mafia (EME)
haveinfluence on neighborhoods such as
Florencia 13 near South Central L.A., telling street gangs to become more
organized, and bring less heat from the police over such little things as
putting graffiti on neighborhood walls. While law enforcement noticed a
decrease in such vandalism, they noticed an increase in Sinaloan Cowboys,
as well as homages to Jesus Malverde, and alters to La Santa Muerte.
While the Cartel has been known to kill if need be, it has preferred to buy power brokers off, than "wack them" thus creating fewer enemies. As far as their drug dealing rivals; however, they will use whatever resources at their deposal. The Cartel also wisely does
not get involved in the leadership of its business partners so what affects their "headquarters" does not necessarily affect "subsidiaries"
and visa-versa because there is little top to bottom control.
In comparison, other
organizations like Zetas, a group forged by former Mexican military renegades,
have less that binds them together so their leaders must act stronger and
employ more discipline to keep all of the pieces together. They are more of a
top to bottom group so when there is change or disputes at the top it creates a
lot of chaos and confusion throughout the entire organization because there are
no automatic methods of succession. The pieces are more prone to seek
independence from each other.
This is not how the
Sinaloa Cartel is set up, while there are leaders, they are more like businessmen at the
top, the real strength of the organization is in its horizontal make-up working for
a common cause: Making lots of money!
Even with his capture, Chapo still has a large
and loyal army. Sinaloan cells like "Los Antrax" did his
bidding before his arrest and continue to do so. His partner Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada is still
on the loose even though he has given interviews to the press. His son
Vicente Zambada-Niebla was captured in April, 2009.
Speaking on the advice of his father, Vicente claimed he was previously given immunity from U.S. officials. After being extradited to Chicago in February 2010, Zambada-Niebla argued that he was "immune from arrest or prosecution" because he actively provided information to U.S. federal agents. He also alleged that failed ATF “Operation Fast and Furious” was part of an agreement to finance and arm the Cartel in exchange for information used to take down its rivals. It was previously widely rumored in Mexico, and even among some American sources, that between
the years 2000 and 2012, Mexican and U.S. governments had an arrangement with the
Cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of
dollars of drugs while the Sinaloans provided information on rivals.
Both Mexican and U.S. government officials rejected that claim, and while those alarming rumors have yet to be verified, court documents showed a close parallel between the rise
of the Sinaloa Cartel's dominance in Mexico and the DEA's frequent contact with a known top
For now, Joaquin
"El Chapo" Guzman appears set to remain in Mexico's highest-security
prison for the foreseeable future as the government will likely put off his U.S. extradition
for as long as possible in a move that could bolster President Enrique Pena-Nieto's nationalist
credentials. It also shines a bright spotlight on the country's weak judicial
system. Experts say Pena-Nieto's administration, and those of his predecessors,
have proven unable to match bold arrests like Guzman's with
complex long-term investigations and wide-spread prosecutions of deep-rooted crime
syndicates. Criminal cases stall, Cartels continued to operate, while there is victory in one corner there are set-backs in another. In 2013, one
of Guzman's closest allies, Rafael Caro-Quintero, was freed from prison where
he was known to be running drugs from behind bars with prison body guards surrounding him.
But the capture of
Chapo poses more problems than him just continuing business as usual.
A greater risk to the
Mexican government and other power brokerswill become more apparent if Chapo, playing his cards as master of
Mexican politics, starts speaking to authorities about embarrassing events, exposing wide spread
corruption that protected his organization both inside and
outside of Mexico. More than problems with the Cartel, this could wreak havoc
within the political and business classes that desperately need to protect
themselves from his testimony.
The Mexican government
says with increased security there is no way that Guzman can repeat the 2001
escape that let him roam western Mexico for 13 years as he moved literally hundreds of billions of
dollars of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin around the world. Most experts believe
Guzman will not be able to operate out in the open as freely as he did before,
but he will continue to work covertly to avoid detection with insulated
sub-cells loyal to him but not directly controlled by him.
While other Mexican DTOs may see his capture as a venerable
time to try and take over some of Chapo’s territories, the flow of drugs will continue…
Read more about Mexican
Drug Cartels in “Varrio Warfare: Violence in the Latino Community”