Perhaps you remember the 1965-67 television sitcom about a calvary troop that just could not do anything right. One of the largest and most violent gangs in California took its name from this sitcom.
The gang, which was formed in the Santa Ana area by primarily Hispanic members, was known as Fx Troop or F-Troop, and claims that the original roots of the street gang stretch back from the 1940s, but it adopted its new name in the mid-1960s.
In August of 1992, the local Mexican Mafia leader and local heroin hype, Peter "Sana" Ojeda, called a meeting in El Salvador Park (east of the Santa Ana River at Civic Center Drive and Raitt Street) of representatives of more than 50 rival Hispanic gangs. Leading the meeting of several hundred gang members was Mexican Mafia members Peter "Sana" Ojeda, Mike "Musclehead" Salinas, Raymond "Champ" Mendez, Ambrose "Sporty" Gil, and La Eme associate Arturo "Art" Romo.
Art Romo was an F-Troop gang member and supporter of fellow drug dealer "Sana" Ojeda. Art Romo had drug contacts in other gangs, such as Logan, Delhi and the Alley Boys. He also had contacts with Mexican and Columbian drug cartels. Art Romo ran a T-shirt screening operation called A&G Exquisite Designs (or "Maldito") with his fellow F-Troop homeboy Gomercindo "Gomer" Rios.
After the infamous El Salvador Park meeting, Art Romo organized the "United Gang Council" to support La Eme and "Sana" Ojeda's gang edicts. This ordered "peace treaty" was actually the enforcement of the Mexican Mafia rules of engagement and taxation. These edicts did not stop gang murders; they only prohibited the drive-by shooting tactic. But the gullible politicians and the media ate it up like piranhas on a pork chop. They treated the Mexican Mafia's gang truce leaders as if they were neighborhood heroes.
A few months after the meeting in El Salvador Park, Art Romo was arrested for laundering $59,900 for a Columbian drug cartel in a cocaine sting. U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor was impressed by the 125 letters of support for Romo; he felt that the letters expressed "true, heart-felt praise" for Romo's "really wonderful assistance to the community." However, the judge imposed the maximum sentence allowable in federal prison, but within a couple of years Romo was back in the F-Troop barrio.
In 1992, the DEA arrested Ojeda on federal weapons charges in Operation Green Ice. Following Ojeda's arrest, DEA Agent Santos Miranda received death threats from the Mexican Mafia. Ojeda was eventually convicted and sentenced to federal prison. In 1995, the other Mexican Mafia members who were also present at the El Salvador Park meeting were indicted and convicted in a RICO conspiracy.
Art Romo continued doing the Mexican Mafia's business with his front organization, called the United Gang Council. However, Santa Ana's Community Policing Team, Sgt. Dan Beaumarchais and Det. John Hibbison were not fooled by the good-guy media version of Art Romo. The DEA and Mexican Army Maj. Felipe Perez-Cruz in Tijuana's Office of the General Prosecutor (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR) were also looking for Art Romo because of his connections to drug cartels in Tijuana and Columbia.