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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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.

Mexican Mafia: The Most Dangerous Gang

Surenos you encounter are taking their orders from a higher authority.

April 12, 2010  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

A confiscated prison drawing should warn LEOs about the dangers of the Surenos and their prison-gang masters, the Mexican Mafia.

A few years ago, a well-regarded national magazine published a cover story, entitled "America's Most Dangerous Gang," giving MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) this distinction. In the 1980s, the Los Angeles-based Crips and Blood gangs seemed to be competing for the title.

However, if you consider that the 500 Los Angeles Hispanic gangs outnumbered the combined armies of all the Crips and Blood gangs by more than double; the Southern California Hispanic gangs are united under the umbrella "Sureños;" and that Sureños include the three biggest gangs—Florence 13, 18th Street and rival Mara Salvatrucha 13—you might give that title to the Sureños.

In Southern California, the Sureño gangs are the most active criminally, and the most prolific in gang killings by far. The African-American gangs are normally the victims of Sureños in hate-crime incidents, and the Sureños are invading Northern California cities by the hundreds, not vice versa.

The Sureños serve their masters—the Mexican Mafia (known as La Eme, the letter "M" in Spanish) prison gang. This alliance is the most dangerous prison gang and disruptive group combination. They control the majority of the California Department of Corrections facilities. In and out of custody, if one Eme member or Sureño becomes involved in a fight with law enforcement, all Sureños are required to assist the gang member against the police. Any Sureño in the vicinity must assault any other cop or prison staff member in the area. This Eme-Sureño coalition is rapidly gaining footholds in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The American media and even law enforcement, unfamiliar with the dynamics of real prison gangs, often try to compare these apples to oranges. Prison gangs are a quantum leap from street gangs, no matter how big or how powerful the street gang may be. Only traditional organized crime and large drug cartels can compare.

The prison gang's power over street gangs was dramatically illustrated in an incident that occurred in November of 1995.

Two years earlier, the Mexican Mafia had issued three edicts to Southern California Hispanic street gangs: Take over drug areas formally controlled by African-American gangs; tax illegal-alien drug dealers operating in Sureño controlled areas; and stop drive-by shootings. This was publically advertised in the newspapers, on radio and on TV as a "Hispanic peace initiative."

It was actually an attempt to reduce collateral casualties in the gang wars that drew unfriendly public attention and heavy police response that was interfering with their lucrative drug business. The gangs were encouraged to continue killing in face-to-face "walk-ups."

But the drive-by tactic was a bad habit that was hard to break for old school Latino cholo gangs. Some young unsophisticated gang members failed to take the Mexican Mafia's edicts seriously. These gangsters became human pin cushions in jail after being arrested by the cops.

The Florence 13 (F-13) gang dates back to the early '50s and dominates a wide geographic area in South Los Angeles. This major Hispanic gang had expanded from its traditional Florence District to the southeastern suburbs of Cudahy, Bell Gardens, Maywood, Bell and Huntington Park. It had become an international, or "transnational," gang that spread across the country (a restaurant in New York bears the gang name) and into Europe, and South America. Florence drug dealers sold multiple kilos and had connections to major drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. But they are also Sureños loyal to the Mexican Mafia.

In October of 1995, Florence gang members Ricardo Perez, 21, Cesar Merino, 21, and Jose Munguia, 20, drove up to a Huntington Park residence. Jose Munguia opened up on the residence with an AK-47 from the vehicle. On the front porch, 11-year-old Erica Izquierdo was swinging on a hammock with her father when she was fatally hit in the head by the AK round. Luis Lopez, 15, and Adrian Garcia, 14, were also struck by the F-13's bullets, but they survived.

Ten days later, Perez and Merino got a visit from a Mexican Mafia member. The Eme member demanded to know just who had fired the fatal shots. Unlike in the American legal system, the two gang members did not have the right to remain silent, or not to incriminate themselves. They quickly ratted out their homeboy Munguia to their demon master.

The Mexican Mafia boss required the death penalty for the drive-by child murder. He made them the classic "offer they could not refuse." They were ordered to murder their own friend and homeboy, or the entire F-13 gang would be on the Mexican Mafia's "green light" murder hit list.

Some say that this mysterious Eme enforcer rode with two young Florencia (Spanish for Florence) members to their homeboy's house. At about 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday, one of the homeboys knocked on the front door and politely asked Jose Munguia's mother if his friend could come out on the porch to speak to him.

When Munguia stepped out on the porch, his two F-13 homeboys executed him with multiple gun shots to his head and body. The family cried in utter disbelief as the two dutiful assassins drove away. They were arrested later that same day, and I was called to testify in their trial. My expert gang testimony involved explaining to the jury what could motivate the suspects to kill their childhood friend in cold blood. After a very emotional plea by the parents, both young gang members were convicted and sentenced to long terms in prison. They are probably on Eme's fast track to Mexican Mafia membership, "putting in work" behind bars, killing for their Eme masters.

No matter which big bad bloody band of barrio bad boys you might be dealing with, I'll bet they are taking their orders from prison-gang inmates. And when one prison gang member can walk with immunity into some street gang's turf and order them to murder one of their own, that's a clue. F-13, 18th Street and MS-13 all pay taxes to and obey the codes of conduct dictated by the Mexican Mafia.

So ask yourself, who is the most dangerous gang?

Comments (14)

Displaying 1 - 14 of 14

SAM551974D @ 4/28/2010 11:16 PM

Very well done and written. Sort of reminds me of this George Washinton saying -Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence! George Washington 1732 - 1799

Victor E C @ 12/8/2011 8:34 PM

How do we wipe out the most dangerous gangs in our society. We need to do something. Millions of people die yearly in gang related crimes. see

Gods Child @ 3/9/2012 7:57 PM

A few years ago I lived in Apts one of my neighbors got caught in a major drug ring and his wife and him blamed it on me and now they want to take my life.. I just don't understand how can someone be innocent become a vicitm of these ruthless animals.. They prey on the weak.. I am a wife a mother and nana.. Sad thing about this is they got women that our mothers working for them how can another mother do this to another mother.. God doesn't like ugly..

EXGANGSTER @ 5/10/2012 4:54 PM

Excellent story, I have first hand accounts and dealings being involved in gangs for over 20 years and specifically being an ex-sureno gangster i know the influence LA eMe has over its sutbbordinates and latino youth in general. I have seen the spread of the eMe/sureno organization through out the u.s. and into mexico and central america. The eMe has one goal in mind to dominate and control the drug trade by any means necessary ive witnessed many of my own people throw there lives away blindly in loyalty to LA eMe, how do you punish an organization that started in the prison system and controls the prison system? And with a loyal army of 100,000 surenos in california alone and tens of thousands more nation and world wide its only going to get worse the eMe is only 55 years old compared to older traditional crime syndicates like LA COSA NOSTRA or YAKUZA or TRIADS. It seems LA eMe's power grows every year like a cancer the leaders of the eMe locked away in prison have nothing better to do than plot on crimes 24/7/365. Unfortunately LA eMe is only going to continue its growth and diabolical ways until the forseeable future. I only hope those trapped in the gang lifestyle will wake up before its to late

South PI @ 6/8/2012 8:39 PM

Not all the 500 gangs of LA county bow down to the Mexican Mafia, and additionally, Hispanic rates of violent crime are much lower than that of black rates, so Hispanic gangs in Southern California are never and will never be the most violent as long as there is a black population.

Hispanic gang members are about 60 percent of the entire gang population but are responsible for for between 30 and 36 percent of violent crime.

Eme's influence on the streets has been dwindling for the past 5 years, and at this rate, after all the made men are in the SHU and loose control over their crews, Eme will be done.

Remembers the 5 mafia families of NY? Remember when everyone was saying that they are a major threat to US safety? A much more organized and more violent organization is a shell of itself now and so will the Mexican Mafia.

Arturo @ 2/11/2013 3:05 PM

The eMe is a cancer that will keep growing and never be cured unfortunately.

Jose @ 4/6/2014 10:04 AM

I used to live in a neighborhood run by this gang. As an expert biologist, I released a pathogen in one of their safe houses. 2 of their members caught the virus. Members have been dropping dead for the last 4 years, and they have no clue why LOLOL. MS-13 will go extinct at the hands of biological warfare, and they can't do anything to stop it.

Jose @ 4/6/2014 10:07 AM

Haha just kidding, but could you imagine though? That would make a crazy movie script!

Jose @ 4/6/2014 10:10 AM

Somebody should totally do that. People love gang movies. I bet that movie would make a ton of money.

mark @ 3/20/2015 5:12 PM

As an African-American i really dont understand what some of our black and brown people are thinking. Blacks killing blacks and brown killing brown and blacks and brown killing each other makes absolutely no sense what so ever! Its no wonder our two people are at the bottom of the food chain! Instead of helping each other some blacks and hispanics view each other as rivals instead of brothers and that's truly sad!!

Fred @ 3/31/2015 8:53 AM

The problem is, americans rarely leave their continent, so that breeds:

1. Ignorance of the outside world.
2. Prejudice to 'others' ie blacks and brown hate etc....

My advice for all those trapped in the hood, crime etc... Travel to Europe, Africa, Asia etc... There's a whole world out there, dare to expand your horizons, I say this cos as a Londoner, I often get shocked how much hate, violence and no insult-intended but ignorance my american friends have! We don't hear black vs anything here ever,there are gangs, beefs, murders etc... Not on the same scale as America, but the feuds are people vs people, money or sometimes area vs area, no racist crap!

Munoz @ 12/18/2015 4:18 PM

Ignorance is a bliss.Mexico had one of the largest concentration of African slaves and were the second country to abolish slavery after Britain.Many slaves migrated from the USA to Mexico to be free.There is a big concentration of Afromexicans in Mexico.African bloodlines run through our blood in a lot of Mexicans throughout generations.But yet were killing each other over color.

Munoz @ 12/18/2015 4:32 PM

Ignorance is a bliss.Mexico was the second country to abolish slavery after Great Britain. There is a large concentration of Afromexicans in Mexico due to migration from the United States and slave importation. African bloodlines run through a lot of our ancestors including some of us.

Denzel Jones @ 12/21/2015 11:13 AM

Doesnt matter how racist brown is against black or how bigger in number they are. The U.S could give a shit about either one of them and the U.S really controls the drug trade. Thats why these little gangs get locked or thrown in Jail for slave profit.

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