The Los Angeles Times reports:
Police have arrested two Avenues Gang members in the shooting death of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Abel Escalante, who was gunned down outside his parents’ Cypress Park home in August as he prepared to go to work, according to sources with the Los Angeles Police Department.
It is still not known whether the slaying was connected to the Mexican Mafia. Early speculation hinted at the possibility, principally because Escalante worked the highpower unit at the County Jail, and thus had regular contact with a number of Mexican Mafia members.
The intrigue only heightens with today’s revelation that the arrested suspects are members of the notorious Avenues criminal street gang. The Avenues is a gang with close ties to Eme (the Mexican Mafia). On the other hand, it is also a rival gang of Cypress Park, the area where Escalante lived, and gang members might simply have decided to target a bald-headed young Hispanic male in rival gang territory as part of the usual gang warfare nonsense.
I have spoken with people in law enforcement (not connected with the case) who tend to doubt that this was an Eme-ordered hit, because (they say) the Mexican Mafia is primarily concerned with making money. Moreover, these people say, the Mafia doesn’t want to attract excessive law enforcement attenton by killing a cop.
These arguments are generally sound, but there are countervailing arguments. I’m in the middle of an excellent book about the Mexican Mafia by local Fox-11 reporter Chris Blatchford, and I recently finished another by Tony Rafael. I plan to review both on this site in coming days and weeks. They give the reader some insight into the mob mentality, and based on what I learned in those books, I certainly think Mafia involvement is a possibility (how remote a possibility is unclear), for several reasons.
First, the Mexican Mafia is an unstable conglomeration of criminal personalities who order hits as revenge for the pettiest of slights. If you steal my lunch tray in prison, you might go on the greenlight list.
While it’s true that the Mafia doesn’t typically target law enforcement, it’s not inconceivable that the Sheriff’s Deputy, while working the highpower unit, inadvertently offended one of the more volatile Mafia members, who decided to take his revenge using his henchmen on the street.
Sometimes, too, there is bad communication and/or rogue actors who go beyond their mandate. For example, the Mafia definitely does not approve of killing children, but a notorious multiple murder on Maxson Road was Mafia-inspired, and ended with the execution of a family, including small children. The killer was himself later murdered in prison for having killed children, but former Mafioso Rene “Boxer” Enriquez believes he may have felt he was following orders given by someone who had simply said: “Kill all them motherfuckers.” Similarly, a huge race riot at Pelican Bay State Prison in 2000 was sanctioned by a couple of Mexican Mafia carnales, but they hadn’t run the concept past the other members of the Mob, who almost certainly would have vetoed the idea.
So even if a particular hit doesn’t necessarily fit the mold, that doesn’t mean someone in the Mafia wasn’t involved.
Add into the mix the way that Mexican cartels have recently begun targeting all enemies in a newly gruesome and visible way, including decapitations — and the fact that several of their enemies include law enforcement officials — and there’s good reason to be concerned.
We’ll stay on top of the story.