Arrested: Suspected Killers of Sheriff’s Deputy. But Was It Ordered by the Mexican Mafia?
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.
Interesting. I concur with your analysis. I was a juror in last winter’s San Diego Mexican Mafia RICO trial. Boxer was the star witness. Smart guy. Surprisingly believable though a little full of himself. In his biography, “The Black Hand,” he states the jury was intimidated by him and went to the judge. Not what I remember. The juror next to me was apparently intimidated by the motley spectators. She sent a note to the judge and there was some questions asked. Whatever the judge said apparently worked. After 2 months of trial, we deliberated for four days and the issue never even came up. For that matter, I saw no indication any juror had searched out Mexican Mafia info or violated any of the judge’s instructions. We carefully went through the case evidence and testimony for each defendant to establish guilt beyond reasonableness. Each of us had noticed different aspects of the case and the combination of 12 inputs was surprisingly effective. If I ever had to stand trial I would ask for a jury. At least if I was innocent.
The most striking aspect of the trial was a La Eme associate talking up the benefits of running drugs under Mexican Mafia taxes by comparing it to auto insurance. “You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance?” he said to another dealer. He then went on to arrange a hit.doug (fbba00) — 12/13/2008 @ 9:59 pm
One last thing. I think “Wall stops” stink!doug (fbba00) — 12/13/2008 @ 10:03 pm
If the United States acquires more of the ticks and quirks of Mexico, expect to see a greater number of stories like this in the future.
We’re already well on the road in that direction, what with changing demographics increasingly made up of academic underachievers — who make it tougher to maintain a stable, successful society — mixed together with a healthy percentage of mindless pro-Democrat-Party voters, combined with a tolerance for corruption and sloppy ethics (eg, “Bill Clinton can do no wrong!” “Barack Obama is my savior!” “Maybe Hillary really did come under gunfire in Bosnia!” “Liberal politicians deserve endless benefits of the doubt!”)Mark (411533) — 12/13/2008 @ 11:31 pm
Based on how the cartels have operated recently, (The Las Vegas child kidnapping)we need to secure the border more than ever.Stan (7cfd24) — 12/14/2008 @ 7:09 am
Juan Escalante was murdered at 5:40am, he was shot in the back of the head at close range as he adjusted a child’s car seat in front of his parents’ home.
Escalante had only recently reconciled with his wife following divorce proceedings. They and their 3 children were living with his parents while waiting to move into a new home in Pomona. Both Juan and Celeste grew up in the Cypress Park neighborhood.
While not conclusive, the early morning hour indicates planning. Thugs are not usually early risers, unless they have a scheduled appointment, or are abroad because they’ve been up all night.
Police recalled the previous murder of a guard at the downtown Men’s Central Jail, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. George Arthur back in 1985. For years investigators thought Arthur’s murder was related to the officer’s job guarding inmates. However rumors began to circulate the slaying was related to a co-worker’s romantic relationship with Arthur’s wife.
Investigators reexamined DNA evidence. 15 years after the murder, the rumored co-worker, Ted Eugene Kirby, killed himself before police could take him into custody.
2 suspects in Escalante’s murder are in custody, and may soon reveal their motive.Ropelight (5b609a) — 12/14/2008 @ 9:36 am
Am I missing something? Why in the hell are these “Mexican Gang” members in the US? Why have they not been rounded up and deported or jailed?Doug Book (dda662) — 12/14/2008 @ 1:43 pm
Doug Book,doug (fbba00) — 12/14/2008 @ 3:08 pm
Don’t let the name of the group fool you. Mexican Mafia members are mostly Americans. Most, though surprisingly not all, are of Mexican heritage. The Mexican Mafia was cofounded by an American, Joe Morgan whos mother was Croatian. The Mafia refers to illegal aliens as “border brothers.”
I believe it. This also goes along with your post that a stupid opponent is more dangerous than a smart one. A stupid gang is more deadly than a smart one, obviously.Patricia (ee5c9d) — 12/14/2008 @ 5:17 pm
Based on what I had heard previously from law enforcement I’d be surprised if the suspects knew Escalante was a deputy Sheriff when they killed him. But I haven’t been following the case closely.
Doug – what prompted the “wall stops” stink comment? I’m curious – as I actually think its a valuable law enforcement tool so long as there is good oversight in placeCStudent (f30411) — 12/14/2008 @ 8:24 pm
As I understand it a “Wall Stop” occurs when FBI surveilance identifies a probable criminal act and requests local police to stop a car for a soon to be observed traffic violation thus allowing subsequent searching. The local cops bust someone in the traffic stop thus protecting the covert operation and “tickling” the actors. Very good except for the strong implication that the suspect’s car would always be pulled over on one pretense or another. Or, said another way, when a car was targeted for a Wall Stop, they would be pulled over as some sort of vehicle code violation would be observed. The implication that a violation would be fabricated if required was pretty implicit.
It may well be effective. Tossing out the entire Bill of Rights would be even more effective. But it still smells.doug (fbba00) — 12/14/2008 @ 10:58 pm
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