Maybe you caught some of the video footage on May 13, 2009. Maybe you saw the police units in pursuit of a suspect through the streets of El Monte, Baldwin Park, and the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, today this has become regular TV news fare in LA. We have come to expect as normal the TV news choppers flying overhead and giving us a bird's eye view of the exciting action, while we remain sitting safely in our armchairs at home.
But having experienced many vehicle and foot pursuits over my 33 years in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, I must tell you that I think that they are very dangerous to the suspect, the police, and the citizens who happen to be anywhere nearby.
They may seem like fun, but to the parties involved they are extremely stressful and often life threatening. Just listen to any audio tape of almost any cop's pursuit and you will hear the stress. The adrenalin floods the body and the voice changes. Commonly the chase ends with a crash, a foot pursuit, or a shooting. Because of this, department brass have stacked up policies, rules, and procedures that pursuing police must follow. This only makes the chase more stressful on the pursuers.
At the end of this El Monte PD vehicle pursuit, followed by a short foot pursuit, the "all seeing eye" of the TV news helicopter showed what appeared to be the suspect finally dropping to the prone position in a residential backyard. The lone pursuing officer, as he approaches the suspect to cuff him, apparently kicks the head of the suspect. (O M G!)
Before we hang this El Monte officer—and then give him a fair trial—remember that the "all seeing eye" in the sky may not have seen everything the officer saw from his position in the backyard. That suspect, who turned out to be a parolee and a gang member, endangered countless lives in that wild pursuit (including the said officer's), fled arrest, was possibly armed, and incompliant. The officer was filled with adrenalin and anxiousness in a real-life dangerous situation. I know what those armchair experts are thinking, but let's consider the suspect and his gang.
The fleeing felon was named Richard Rodriguez, and he had a two-inch-high tattoo of "EMF" on his face under his lower lip and a large "Flores" tattooed across his neck. I'll bet those tattoos hurt more than that alleged kick. "EMF" stands for the largest of the El Monte gangs, El Monte Flores.
Long ago there was only one gang in El Monte, called El Monte. When I was a teenager in the mid 1960s, many Los Angeles teens would drive to the El Monte American Legion Stadium to see rock and roll shows emceed by radio celebrities like Huggy Boy or Wolfman Jack. Or to attend dances there, dancing to the music of live bands. Danger always lurked in the huge parking lot or the nearby hamburger stands where the El Monte gang members prowled. The gang had several sub-groups or cliques.
The original group was named after a migratory farm worker's camp called Hick's Camp. This became El Monte Hicks. Another clique began on land owned by a man named Hayes. This became El Monte Hayes. But the largest clique formed around a nursery that specialized in growing flowers in South El Monte. The Spanish word for flowers is flores, so that clique became known as El Monte Flores. That clique is now a gang of more than 400 members. This gang loved to fight.
Several of El Monte Flores' more prominent members frequented the ELA area when I worked there. They were always a good stop, and up to no good in someone else's neighborhood. Drug dealing primarily in heroin, they frequented the more hard core gang and trafficking areas. I soon formed a close relationship with El Monte PD Gang Detective Marty Penny. He was a tireless investigator with great neighborhood informants.
El Monte PD not only had an effective gang suppression unit, but in 2006 it was the recipient of the James Q. Wilson award for "Excellence in Community Policing." In addition, the city provided a tattoo removal program and a job placement program for gang members who wished to leave the gang lifestyle.
Many El Monte Flores gang members were associated with or members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang. Albert "Blackie" Amaya, Clark "Boxer" Duran, Jose "Jo Jo" Perea, Ricardo "Danger" Valdivia, and Anthony "Cheya" or "Dido" Moreno, are just a few.
20-year Mexican Mafia veteran Raymond "Huero Shy" Shryock was from the Artesia gang, but his wife Bunny and children lived in El Monte. Early in 1995 he found that Mexican Mafia "drop out" Anthony Moreno was living near his El Monte home. Moreno had a death sentence on his head ordered by the Mexican Mafia. Huero Shy recruited a new Mexican Mafia member from the EMF gang, Luis "Pelon" Maciel, to carry out the hit.
Pelon used street soldiers from the rival Sangra Gang to hit the residence on Maxson Street. Anxious to impress the Mafia, the shooters killed not only Dido Moreno and his associate, but a mother and her 5-year-old daughter and six-month-old son. The shooters were caught and, along with El Monte Eme member Pelon Maciel, convicted and sentenced to death. Unhappy with the slaughter of the children, the Mexican Mafia murdered the baby killer on the Death Row exercise yard of San Quentin Prison.
El Monte Flores is a hardcore Hispanic street gang. It is part of the Sureño alliance and fiercely loyal to the infamous Mexican Mafia prison gang. They have a long history of gang assaults including many against law enforcement. You will need all your best police skills in dealing with the El Monte Flores gang. Be very officer-safety conscience and remember, someone might be videotaping you.