You can read more about early California Gangs in “The Mexican Mafia; The Story”:
Several incidents led up to the infamous "Shoe War" prior to September 16, 1968, that just so happens to be Mexican Independence Day which celebrates Mexico’s Independence from Spain on Sept. 16th, 1810. First, NFM member Phillip “Rebel” Neri from Bakers was hit by EME members. One interesting detail, per former California Prison Warden Tony Casas (deceased), was that EME leader “Cheyenne” Cadena went out with Neri's sister. Casas should know, he personally pulled high security prisoner Cadena out for ride-a-longs to various drug programs. The EME was something that few people were aware of at the time. When Casas did this, he took Cadena out unchained, much to the dismay of Corrections Officers. Once he asked Cadena while traveling over the
The second event was when NFM member Thomas “Sonny” Pena from New Mexico and Maravilla was murdered by La EME. NFM members were very upset at these acts of disrespect to their members. Finally, the “Shoe War” at San Quentin was started by EME Robert “Robot” Salas fighting against NF Hector “Mad Dog” Padilla over a pair of shoes (not boots) which were stolen by Salas’ crime partner Carlos “Pieface” Ortega. Padilla did not die, but several other inmates did in subsequent battles. Finally, after four years of intense bloodshed (September 1968-September 1972) Cadena was approached by the CDC Administration for peace talks and transferred from Folsom in Northern California to Chino Prison in
La EME did not kill Cadena as depicted in American Me. As the official reports show, at approximately 1:05 pm, on December 17th, 1972, the alarm sounded in the Palm Hall Adjustment Center at the California Institution for Men in Chino, CA. An altercation took place on the second tier (not the third). Inmates Frank “Joker” Mendoza and Juan "Manzanas" Colon, both members of the Nuestra Familia, were observed stabbing Cadena. Inmate Gilbert Sandoval and Steven Oropeza, members of the Mexican Mafia, attempted to assist Cadena and were also stabbed. Both Cadena and Sandoval were then thrown off the second floor tier. While both victims were laying on the floor, inmate Refugio “Tiny” Contreras who was aligned with the NF continued to stab Cadena numerous times. Cadena received 57 stab wounds in his chest and back area and died from his wounds. (The picture above is from Cadena's Funeral.) Inmate Sandoval received numerous stab wounds as well as a split skull. Sandoval was taken to
In the early 1970s, the NF elected Robert "Babo" Sosa to be their new leader. In the 1980s, the XIV Bonds were written at Folsom Prison's 4-A Building. This was different than the NF Constitution, this was a new "Northern Structure" meant to groom young Nortenos in what became known as "Nuestra Raza". The Mexican Mafia and Aryan Brotherhood were allies, thus, the AB did many hits for La EME in the 1970s including hits on Nuestra Familia who were common enemies. In the same regard, the BGF and NF were prison allies and warred against EME and AB. Aryan Brotherhood members Donald Hale and Fred Mendrin killed an NF member for La EME’s "Honorary Godfather" Joe Morgan in 1972.
While there is no hard proof, AB members were said to have originally gone by various names such as the Diamond-tooth Gang, Bluebirds, NAZIS, and finally the Aryan Brotherhood. This prison gang started in San Quentin in 1967. An AB member by the name of Jack Mahoney, who was Irish, influenced the AB, also called “The Brand” to use a "shamrock" as one of their symbols. According to prison gang expert Brian Parry, to be a bonafide AB you must have “the rock”. It is still used and often adorned with the numbers "666". They often use a runic alphabet to communicate. Early AB’s were Eddie Vaughn, Wayne “Bulldog” Ladd, and William McGirk who had Mob ties. There was “Bucky” Garrett, Carl Nooner, and Mark Duclas who all had ties to Washington State. Other early AB were “Tall Dennis” Murphy and Joe Morse. Ronnie “Spots” Berg, Tommy “Slim” Center, Ronnie Harper, Robert “Chuco” Wendekier, Larry Witzig, Mike Carmichael, George Harp, and Eddie Burnett also played major roles early on.
The Black Guerrilla Family was the most political of all the CA prison gangs and the most dangerous towards Police and Corrections Officers in the late 1960s through the early 1970s. The BGF started out in the California Department of Corrections in 1966 as the Black Family and Black Vanguard. They were started by George Lester Jackson and W.L. Nolen.
The Texas Syndicate (TS) officially formed at San Quentin and Folsom Prison during the early 1970s. Its nucleus was made up of inmates from Texas who were incarcerated in the California Department of Corrections (CDC). These inmates often came from the EPT or El Paso Tip, but did not call themselves TS as has been reported in error by some sources. The founder of the TS was Francisco “Panchito” Gonzales who designed the "TS Copia" at Folsom. During the 1970s, the Texas Syndicate recruited heavily to build numbers within CDC. While the TS prison gang was small, they were the most feared on the yard because of their propensity for violence and serious assaults. Today the TS is active in Texas, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the Federal BOP system but are virtually unheard of in California.
Other California Prison Gangs spread out from the state or started emulators or rivals. Groups like La EME have worked for Mexican Drug Cartels for many years. They have worked with Organized Crime Groups like La Cosa Nostra. While prison gangs are not as numerous as street gangs and may not have the power and control they once did with all of the defectors, warring factions, and new opposing group around today, they still can be very dangerous. Frank “Paco” Marcell is considered an expert on “Career Criminals” and was a Security Threat Group (STG) Manager at the Maricopa County Jail in
You can read more about this subject in “La Familia: The Family; Prison Gangs in America”:
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