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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Can We Stop Giving Public Money to "Former" Gang Members Now?

June 25, 2009  |  by - Also by this author

I was cynical before I had this job. Hanging out with you guys has made me doubly so. So when the media tells me that some POS used to be a gang member but he has left the thug life and is working to keep kids out of gangs, I take it with a grain of salt. When they say that this POS is getting public money (yours and my tax dollars) to keep kids out of gangs, I take it with a pound of salt.

Maybe a pound isn’t enough. Here’s why:

One of the best-known non-profit anti-gang organizations in Los Angeles is Homies Unidos. This 501(c)(3) charity is supported by both public and private funding. Earlier this week, the executive director of Homies Unidos, Alex Sanchez, was arrested by the FBI. The FBI says that Sanchez is a shotcaller in the Normandie click of MS-13. He is charged with “racketeering offenses,” including conspiracy to murder.

As executive director of Homies Unidos, Sanchez has access to the bank accounts. Do you think that maybe some of that money has been diverted to MS-13 operations? I don’t know if it has, but would it surprise you?

It wouldn’t surprise me. Alex Sanchez has proved that he is very effective at gaming the system. 

Back in 1994 Sanchez was deported to El Salvador for a prior car-theft conviction. He snuck back into the United States in 1995 and started the Los Angeles chapter of Homies Unidos (other Homies Unidos branches are in El Salvador and other Central American countries). OK, think about that for a moment: When’s the last time that an illegal alien was deported and came back into the country to start a charity?

Obviously, Sanchez’s activities with Homies Unidos such as associating with known gang members put him on the radar of the LAPD and the INS. And you gotta give him credit, his solution to that problem was ingenious.

As executive director of Homies Unidos, Sanchez rubbed shoulders with the rich and the powerful and he found a willing dupe in then State Sen. Tom Hayden who represented the People’s Republic of Santa Monica. Hayden used his influence to acquire political asylum for Sanchez on the grounds that he had been harassed by LAPD gang officers during the rampart scandal. (If they had any sense, the people of Santa Monica would have run Hayden out of the city for helping a car thief stay in the country. Believe me, the last thing Santa Monica needs is more car theft.)

Anyway, by claiming that he was harassed in the Rampart mess, becoming a liberal cause celebre, and by gaining political asylum, Sanchez managed to make it impossible for local law enforcement to pursue him. He also stymied any deportation efforts by what was then the INS. Like I said, you gotta give him credit. He’s a master tactician.

And according to the FBI, a master criminal. If the charges are true, Sanchez has been quite literally a double agent. He was allegedly the secret leader of a gang that he was trying to dismantle by persuading kids to leave the thug life.

Homies Unidos hasn’t issued a statement on Sanchez’s arrest. They are probably busy auditing their accounts to see if any of their donations and public funding have been funneled to MS-13. So speaking with the press is a low priority.


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