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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.

When the Mexican Mafia Takes Out a Pawn

Art Romo was a valued member of La Eme until his arrest in a DEA task force operation and trial in Southern California.

November 09, 2010  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

In March of 1998, the DEA and Orange County task force requested the assistance of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to take down an F-Troop drug operation. LASD's Major Narco and, later, Prison Gang Unit assisted in the take down of this operation, seizing over 260 kilos of cocaine. F-Troop members Fernando Melendrez, David Ramirez and Art Romo were arrested and charged with drug-trafficking conspiracy.

This wholesale $5 million cocaine seizure brought out the Mexican Mafia's legal "dream team." From the high-powered Osajima Law Office, Glenn K. Osajima himself took the lead. His second was defense attorney Shirley MacDonald, whose ex-con husband Albert "Babo" Juarez was a validated Mexican Mafia associate and a suspected made member. In the past Shirley MacDonald Juarez represented Mexican Mafia Godfather Joe "Pegleg" Morgan in lawsuits against actor Edward James Olmos involving the movie, "American Me" (1992).

Attorney Shirley MacDonald and her husband were listed as assistant director and director of "The Cause: Cultural Awareness Uniting in Special Efforts." This was, in my opinion, another front organization of La Eme. Other members of the board of directors included La Eme attorney Daniel Guerrero, and Paul A. Sharp — the program director of the American Recovery Center (American Hospital) in Pomona, Calif. Sharp's son, a La Eme associate, was convicted for the "taxation" and home invasion robbery of a drug house in Whittier in 1994.

Like Art Romo's United Gang Council, the Mexican Mafia infiltrated community organizations such as "No Guns," "The Cause" and various drug rehab programs all are used to establish an appearance of legitimacy. They generated letters of support, "counseling," and drug program certification for individuals favored by the Mexican Mafia prison gang. Romo's "125 letters of community support" were meant to flood the courts, probation and parole with false positive reports that could influence the justice system, as well as genuine community and civic organizations.

I testified as the Mexican Mafia gang expert during Romo's trial. As the trial progressed, I noticed a diminishing effort to defend Romo's interests. As the case closed, I received information from an informant that Romo's co-defendant Melendrez and Gomez had been given orders to hit their own homeboy. Romo was convicted and placed in protective custody but remained at the Orange County jail for several years, appealing his case and delaying sentencing.

In July of 2000, Mexican Mafia veteran Roland Berry was arrested for meth trafficking in San Bernardino and Orange County. He had travelled to Southern California from his home in Hawaii to secure sources for his "ice" dealing.

Hearing that Berry was to be moved from San Bernardino to the Orange County jail, Romo offered to relinquish control of a portion of the Orange County jail to Berry. Roland Berry replied in his typical bravado fashion, "I've been a brother since the early '70s, was part of the Famosa (Famous) in Tracy (the Mexican Mafia was founded at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif.). Now are you a brother? Yes or no?" He then signed the kite (written message), Roland-EME.

This Berry kite was disrespectful and questioned any control Romo might have thought he had. Romo's association with high powered La Eme members, his loyal service as a liaison to the drug cartels, his close association to Mexican Mafia lawyers, and his usefulness as a front man, meant nothing when challenged by a real made member.

This began this pawn's fall from grace. Art Romo was just another example of an F-Troop member who just couldn't get anything right.

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Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

prosecutorx @ 11/9/2010 11:07 PM

No one is more knowledgeable about the Mafia than Sgt Valdemar. He has been a member of federal and state task forces investigating the Eme. He was my primary Eme expert witness in each of the sixteen murders my partner and I prosecuted which were ordered and carried out by the Mafia. He, essentially, wrote the history of the Eme for the monograph "Prosecuting Mexican Mafia Murders" which my partner and I wrote for other prosecutors. Retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept, he continues to serve in law enforcement as a member of the Arizona Gang Task Force.

marco @ 1/13/2013 8:01 AM

It makes you think that when we come to America to make something of our self and fight what we think is right there is something or someone to take it away. Drugs,crime,& greed.

gill @ 6/1/2014 3:34 PM

To much info!!!

D. @ 7/11/2014 1:55 PM


Matthew Navarrette @ 7/12/2016 2:01 PM

My familia is from the mighty F-Troop gang only name that ik personally is Gomer Rios purro El Salvador Park 9th st 11st 12st Raitt St Townsend St Norteño Sidee V.FXTX3

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