This is an amusing (if distressing) post about a L.A. Times puff piece from July 2005 about a man named Hector Marroquin, Sr. The article portayed Marroquin as a former gang member who “turned his life around long ago” and left the gang life:
Big Hector Marroquin still looks like the widely feared gang leader he once was. Tattoos spiral up his big arms and across his chest and a heavy gold chain hangs at his neck. His head gleams bald above a lush, chestnut goatee and a cross dangles from a pierced eyebrow. Black Ray-Bans rest on his forehead. He looks like a man who is used to being obeyed.
He turned his life around long ago by becoming a roofer, building his own company and becoming a man of peace. By the mid-1990s, law enforcement officers, ministers and a state senator were seeking him out to negotiate gang truces from Lennox to Santa Monica.
According to the article, once he was clean, Marroqin started a legitimate gang intervention agency:
Within a year, Hector Sr. had founded No Guns, a gang intervention agency funded by the city.
“No Guns.” Remember that name. It will provide comic relief later in this post. The article continues:
The Marroquins do what worked for them: Give troubled men hard work, honest money and male support. So far, 60 former felons have found construction jobs and gained union membership through their program.
The article implies that, since starting his gang intervention agency, Marroquin Sr. has had only one brush with the law, a weapons arrest which led to an acquittal. That arrest is portrayed as a cautionary tale about how unreasonable authority figures refused to believe that a man could turn his life around.:
It hasn’t been a smooth walk. In 1998, Hector Sr. was tried on illegal weapons charges and acquitted. The case and accompanying news coverage scarred his reputation.
“If a good man can turn bad, how come a bad man can’t turn good?” Big Hector asked.
This fluff job quoted exactly three people: Marroquin, and two other employees of his gang intervention agency . . . one of whom is his son.
Notably, it does not quote any police officers.
A recent L.A. Weekly story about Marroquin does quote police officers — and it paints quite a different picture of Marroquin indeed (h/t Patricia).
The L.A. Weekly article chronicles Marroquin’s several serious brushes with the law — many involving firearms — since starting “No Guns.” Police say Marroquin is a Mexican Mafia gang member who allegedly ordered a hit on a police informant — according to that informant, who is now dead. The criminal legal problems of Marroquin’s son and daughter, both of whom worked at “No Guns,” have been eye-opening as well, including his daughter’s alleged involvement in the burning of a corpse whose brains were splattered across the walls of “No Guns.” And the story also discusses how Marroquin collected big bucks from government officials, despite financial irregularities that had been revealed in an audit conducted before The Times published its puff piece.
The ugly details are in the extended entry.