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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.

Do You Speak Nahuatl?

The gang myths of the Aztec warrior super race, Aztlan, and Nahuatl can cost lives.

January 18, 2011  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

The tattoo on this man's head is an Aztec shield symbol for eternal war.

Like all other racist recruiters, Latino Gangs appeal to the prospective individual's desire to believe that his race is superior to any other race. Although most Mexicans are of mixed race -- a blend of native Indian, Spanish and European colonist, and African slave -- gang members refer to theirs as "La Raza" (the Race).

Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but Mexican-American or "Chicano" Gangs that evolved from the 1940s Zoot Suit Pachucos speak "Calo" - the other Spanish. Calo is not really Spanish or English but the slang corruption of both languages. Probably originating in Texas, it is also called "Spanglish."

For more information on Calo, I recommend "Barrio Language Dictionary - First Dictionary of Calo" by Dagoberto Fuentes and Jose A. Lopez.

Until the influx and tidal wave of illegal immigrants into the traditional Chicano Gangs of the 1980s, most gangs spoke "pocho" Spanish (poor Americanized Spanish) or Calo to one another. Many of these words have crept into other languages and many have become part of common jail and prison slang.

Co-opting Aztec Mythology

During the radical 1960s, some activist college professors taught against the American Anglo European influences. They taught that pre-Columbian natives were generally peaceful noble savages who were enslaved by white colonists. These professors persuaded universities to have "Chicano Studies" curriculum and in particular glorified the Aztec culture.

They encouraged groups like MEChA and other campus radical groups to push this philosophy. Mexican and Chicano students were told to put away their colonial master's culture and to return to their Aztec blood and cultural roots. After all, the Aztec civilization was the most advanced civilization in Meso-America.

Latino racist teachers and gangs like the Mexican Mafia and the Nuestra Familia teach their disciples to read from authors like anthropologist Carlos Castaneda. His metaphysical writings about peyote use and traditional Meso-American shamanism are required reading, yet the classical Spanish wisdom of Miguel De Cervantes and books like "Don Quixote" are rejected.

The Aztec Culture was a barbarian warrior culture that invaded and conquered the more civilized cultures and peoples of the region. They stole from the Toltec's, Mayans, Zapotecs and many others. Chief Montezuma lived in the capital surrounded by his nobles and served by thousands of slaves. Their dark and bloody religion was at the center of their culture and they practiced human sacrifice.

Today, these Aztec myths and fantasies continue to be preached by racist college professors, schools like Academia Del Pueblo in Los Angeles, and by Latino gangs.

Mexicans and Mexican Americans who can barely say taco are being taught dialects of the ancient Aztec language Nahuatl. In California prisons both the Mexican Mafia and the rival Nuestra Familia use this Aztec mythology to recruit and train soldiers for their wars.

"You are of La Raza," they say, implying that "The Race" is superior to any other. "You are a warrior of Noble blood," they say, brain washing individuals to believe in super race genetics. I am sure Adolph Hitler said similar things. "Let us teach you how to be an Aztec warrior," they say. What they don't say is that these people are being recruited primarily to kill other members of their own race.

Supposed Sacrifice Turned Mass Murder

One such student, Juan Miguel Alvarez, from Compton, Calif., attended and was trained at the Academia Del Pueblo in El Sereno on the Aztec culture. Although not a gang member himself, he had grown up around them and had been in jail a few times.

Alvarez was a troubled youth and a drug abuser arrested several times for cocaine possession and suspicion of burglary. His wife finally obtained a restraining order against him because of his paranoid fantasies and jealousy.

Alvarez was fascinated with the Ancient Aztec religion and its rituals. He had attended Academia Del Pueblo to learn more about the Aztec culture. He joined a group that performed dances and ceremonies dressed in loin cloths, sandals, and feathered headdresses. He had even learned to play the traditional Aztec drums.

At about 6 am January 26, 2005, Juan Miguel Alvarez drove his Jeep Cherokee onto the railroad tracks east of the Golden State Freeway and north of Los Feliz Boulevard. He turned onto the tracks south of Chevy Chase Drive. According to some reports Alvarez stabbed himself in the chest and slit his wrists with a knife, either just before or just after abandoning his Jeep on the tracks. Some believe Alvarez had intended to do a ritual Aztec suicide but chickened out.

Los Angeles Metro Link train No. 100 was speeding on its way to the Civic Center with morning commuters. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash, metal screeching against metal and the sound of debris striking the under carriage. The train jumped the track and careened onto a freight locomotive. The jackknifing Metro Link cars also struck two cars of the northbound No. 901 train.

More than 180 commuters were injured and 11 people were killed.

Among the dead was Los Angeles County Deputy and close personal friend James Totino, known as "Toot" to his friends. He was on his way to work at Men's Central Jail when the crash occurred.

He worked in the Operations Safe Jails (OSJ) Gang Unit. He had been one of my early recruits to the unit and at one time been on special assignment to my Prison Gang Unit during the Mexican Mafia R.I.C.O. investigation. He was one of "Valdemar's Kids."

James Totino's funeral was a huge affair in which L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca spoke. Tributes from his peers and the numerous young people he had mentored and coached over the years brought tears to the eyes of everyone there. The formal Catholic Mass was befitting a King or a Pope.

But the most impressive expression of sentiment was the jail-made sympathy card left on the OSJ door by MCJ inmates. Even they would miss him.

Juan Manuel Alvarez was convicted of the murder of those 11 commuters in July of 2008. Alvarez was spared the death penalty unlike his victims. This is proof that crazy lies, fantasies, and myths can kill you.

Related Blog Post:

A Nahuatl Dictionary

Tags: Prison Gangs, Hispanic Gangs, Mexican Mafia

Comments (34)

Displaying 1 - 34 of 34

Ozelotl Toltecatl Xochipi @ 3/13/2011 11:37 PM

I find this article xenophobic and disgraceful. How Dare you use the criminal acts of individuals to generalize a whole culture? Do you vilefy german culture and language because they gave birth to the protestant fanatics, nazis, neo nazis etc... ? Do you vilefy the British when we speak of imperialists, pirates, monarchists?

this article has underlying white supremacist tones and a eurocentric agenda. Speaking for the people of the "southwest", mexico, and central america, I reject these insinuations brought forth apon my culture! More colonist propaganda against the "indian", darkie, nigger what ever you call us these days

Deus ROCKADULTOX @ 7/4/2011 10:26 PM

Any of European Descent "IMIGRANT" who has traveled the WHOLE extent of the Atlantic Ocean to reach the "American" homeland in order to make a living. Escaping from the English motherland, annihilating any other Native species through any of their various propagating viruses. Pirates: sent via the atlantic by the English monarchy in order to colonate and propagate a foreign and Civilized Society through extermination and genoside.

QYr @ 7/25/2011 11:12 AM

This article is racist. La Raza means "the people", NOT "the race"! Humans do not have separate races and all have mixed.
This article is blatantly euro centric and plain misinformed to the highest caliber.

Mar @ 11/20/2011 7:07 PM

Mexicans are superior... not becuase of their aztec heritage (some of them) but becuase they are "la Raza Cosmica" ... look it up ... Mexicans are likely more resistant to viral strains than are European "pure bloods" .. (even though you were subjugated and raped by the moores etc...

steven kosako @ 11/21/2011 3:47 AM

Its sad to know that some of you that WE pay to serve and protect are ignorant AND spread your ignorance to others in your department. Is this what u resort to in order to justify YOUR self hatred, and the violence that ensues? Are you that worried that people wil find strength in their culture? This article is so blatently pathetic and superficial. Look who is calling the kettle black!

Angie @ 1/11/2012 6:34 PM

You people are so ignorant; you act as if whites were the only ones to conquer other people. You do this on purpose to justify your hatred. You people are Sick mentally, and you aren't fit for western civilization.

YEIZTLI @ 2/12/2012 10:33 PM

"you people are sick mentally, and you are not aren't fit for western civilazation" REALLY???? And we are the ignorant ones justifying our hatred? I hardly think so, and your statement only proves it. You are right, whites are not the only ones to have conquered but they are the ones currently afraid of the same thing happening to them. It's sad that it's the few individuals whom make poor decisions that end up on the news representing a whole group of people. Never the less we ARE a race of warriors and will continue battle as such...Day in and day out only a race of warriors would edure what our people do and still not teach hatred towards the ignorant.

Norwalquero @ 3/21/2012 9:50 AM

'Xenophobic'...'Eurocentric'...'Racist'. The incessant usage of these words to characterize (nay, demonize) those with whom one disagrees has become commonplace in our culture. Rather than responding directly to facts and arguments (which requires some time, effort and a good measure of intellectual honesty), the university-educated (usually), ad-hominem throwers simply dismiss their ideological opponents by good, ole-fashioned name-calling. If you can successfully label those with whom you disagree 'sexist', 'intolerant', 'xenophobic', 'homophobic', 'islamophobic', 'racist', 'bigoted', then there is no need to even respond to what they have actually written/ spoken. They are just dismissed. A good, rhetorical strategy...but intellectually vacuous and dishonest.

Jules @ 3/23/2012 6:28 PM

You should apply to the fox news writing team...

Frank Talk @ 3/23/2012 6:29 PM

If you need any more proof that the LA Sheriffs uses information from convoluted and historically misinformed sources to educate its deputies about the Latino community, look no further than retired LAS deputy, Richard Valdemar, article above. I've not see so much xenophobic and sensational hate against Native Americans since the last time I tuned into Fox News. I suggest looking into his arrest record, the hate is glowing off his writing!

tekoxiknaui @ 3/23/2012 6:39 PM

I agree that words and labels are used to dismiss valid arguements. I can think of a few that u did not mention. Anti-semitic is one. Another very well known one is being called unpatriotic when questioning this contry's foreign policies. I also agree that most doing the labeling and accusations are the univerisity educated types who base their arguments on their supposed knowledge as well as their emotions instead of arguing the points. However, sometimes their has to be emotion attached to the arguement but it has to be put forth in a concise, direct, and truth/factual manner.

Saying this, I will now point to 2 facts. One is that there is a great fear by the white establish order of this country to deny any other views of historical events beside it own. The creation of Chicano Studies was an attempt to get away from this although I question its role today since its no longer a place to dialogue over Chicano/Xikano current issues. But this is an internal conversation and not one to get into here. The second point is that there are TWO versions of what happened 500 years ago. The point of view of the "conqueror" and that of the "conqured". This articles continues to promote the white supremacist view that any version that conflicts with the christian/academic perpectives of our traditions and philosophies is to glorify and romanticize them. Our ways are put into the category of mythology while at the same time saying that we were barbaric, blood thirsty, warring, savages!! And this is the what the article intends to convey. The notion that this is who our grandmothers were and this is who we are today!!!

Carlos @ 3/23/2012 6:50 PM

Norwalquero, the use of terms is to identify realities. Once those realities are identified, then one can begin address those realities strategically. Calling someone who is "racist," racist, is only speaking truths. Calling policies which are "xenophobic," xenophobic, is only pointing out the truth. Interestingly enough, intellectually, this is much more relevant than what you are proposing. You've reduced countless research, data and truths to "name calling" simply because that diminishes case being made, not because A case is not being made. Name calling is saying, You're dumb!" If I call the educational system here "Eurocentric" it is because it factually is in fact leaning towards the European aspects of its beginnings. Has your education been different than mine? In school, history began with Columbus coming over to "The New World," not with the indigenous people who resided here millions of years before. Is that not Eurocentric? In fact, it's not even an insult, it's just factual. I struggle to understand the point you're trying to make.

rafael @ 3/23/2012 10:00 PM

Hey sgt., you might consider revising the article and doing research before you publish these types of articles that readers will interpret as our point of view. We as officers have a obligation to do some scholarly research to avoid such blatant attacks on the people we serve and protect. Your article not only managed to offend readers but it also hurt our profession.

Elias @ 3/26/2012 5:07 AM

Does this story represent the magazine and most police officers? If so, it is solid evidence that COPS ARE RACIST. Racism is rooted in ignorance (Camus) and this story lies about Chicano Studies, gang members, symbols, MEChA, the unfortunate accidental train accident, and Academia del Pueblo. To spew such demonizing, one-sided lies is IRRESPONSIBLE. You really have to work on your Socratic method, even better, work on your In La Kesh. This is an ancient indigenous concept, similar to "love your neighbor." It means you are my other me, if I hate and disrespect you, I hate and disrespect myself, if I love and respect you, I love and respect my self... Look on the bright side, it might help your outlook. Remember the Alamo, but remember what Columbus/Cortez did too. Healing is required.

MeXikana @ 3/27/2012 2:52 PM

I strongly disagree with this article! I cannot believe how hateful your words sound Valdemar. You, sir, are stereotyping to the fullest and contrary to what you state, we do not believe that we are a superior race. How ignorant you seem to state that we are trying to learn Nahuatl when we barely know how to say "taco." Using almost the same language that was used during the Sleepy Lagoon trial to try and justify why "we are the way we are." No, we are not blood-thirsty and no, we are not racist. One individual cannot and should not be used to classify all of us.

Ulises @ 4/4/2012 1:44 PM

La raza means La gente or The people.

Mario @ 4/4/2012 2:14 PM

WOW!!!! You are seriously misinformed and are a true reason citizens despise law enforcement. How can you sit there and tell these lies one man and his stupid brain are what did that horrific accident and you are another man with a stupid brain trying to lump an entire culture with the actions of one idiot. Should I hate all white people or whatever culture you belong to cause of your ignorant writings, no I want because unlike you I judge people by their own actions rather than by what someone else does. I truly feel sorry for your community that has entrusted you to protect because you are not worthy of the honor. Let's see how you feel if god forbid something happens to a loved one of yours and a Mexican American Doctor and Nurse aids in their health no questions asked.

C. Sipe @ 4/5/2012 9:26 AM

Sorry ... not sure what exactly is racist about this article ... He's talking about a specific population (latino gangs) and their integration techniques (glorification of an ancient culture that no longer exists) ... I wonder how many of you would call this man racist for discussing recruitment techniques of Al-Qaeda, calling on young ignorant men and indoctrinating them in hatred, which is most definitely not a pillar of Islam, but it is done. I wonder how many of you bothered to conduct your own research to see just how "La raza" you actually are, and how many are more of European descent than native South American descent

Angelica Pulido @ 4/22/2012 12:49 PM

Your ignorance is appalling

crackerhater @ 5/1/2012 6:32 PM


ChicahuacNecahuatl @ 5/1/2012 9:52 PM

First off the symbol is Mayan and not Aztec as the myth of Aztecs and their blood thirsty culture are lies and never happened on our side of the REAL Story.

Yes our ancestors cut off the tops of heads, yes they cut out hearts, livers and kidneys and also eye retinal.... Although not in a ceremony of savagery but in medical science performing "successful" brain transplants, heart, liver and kidney transplants etc....

At least get the facts straight and come correct or stay home. There are enough good European authors whom tell our story with respect and intelligence. So there is NO excuse for such out and out ignorance! La Raza has NOTHING to do with our true culture just as Spanish and Columbus have neither.

Hate and anger spew from FEAR, and yes you true criminals and squatters have much to fear for what has a beginning so has an ending and Europe your ending is nearing.... So it was written so it shall be done!

tekoxiknaui @ 5/1/2012 11:30 PM

The act of lying in order to destroy the desire to return home to our original worldview, is the centerpiece of this practice!! It is in the realm of genocide that this "attack piece" needs to be categorized!! But even more important is where it stems from. The philosophy of white supremacy in the form of eurocentric dogma of what our history IS instead of what our communal oral traditions teach us!!!

Sal @ 8/29/2012 10:23 PM

What a waste of time. After 33 years of service you were never able to get your facts right. Caramba! Just thinking about it probably makes your constituens cringe. Eres el típico ignorante con placa y pistola.

grnknwn.xch @ 10/21/2012 7:46 PM

The ignorance of some people...

guillermo @ 1/2/2013 1:50 AM

It's amazing to me. That people use words such as; "xenophobe" "euro-centric" etc. , wax intelligently in text and still don't know how to write a sentence with proper grammar and punctuation. IN EITHER LANGUAGE. Cultural tradition is strange to the on looker for sure. You should see Hindu traditions like skewering. But listen to yourselves! You sound no more tolerant and educated than the idiot who wrote this article in the first place. Teach us the truth.

Just a Paisa @ 2/1/2013 10:39 AM

Who comes up with this notion that all Mexicans are of Aztec blood. I was born and raised in Michoacan Mexico, and as far back as I can trace my ancestors, we (My Family) come from the Tarascan Indians which I am proud to say was the only people the Aztecs could not conquer (Google It) but I'm not on here to give you all a history lesson. It just bugs the hell out of me that all these so called gangsters think just because they are Mexican, it automatically makes you some type of Aztec warrior. First research your family lineage and where your ancestors come from. My mother to this day and she is eighty years old, still utilizes several words in her P'urhépecha dialect not Nahuatl. I agree with the article although it is one sided, his side. However he is not in the wrong or misinformed this is fact about the gang culture, but not true of the Mexican culture (it does NOT think it is a superior race) but if you have never dealt with the gang or prison culture then you really have no ground to say that the author of this article is misinformed.. I myself have 18 yrs working gangs and I can totally relate but I however cannot blame the Aztec culture for the actions of another person..... Juss saying.. I will quote, "You people have no EFFIN Idea what La Raza Means, i'ts about our people working, surviving with Pride and Dignity that's Raza!" Not gang banging and killing our own kind or any other person of any race and then calling yourself an Aztec Warrior. My statements do not apply to all Mexicans in general but, if the shoe fits... Ya sabes, pontelo!

Abel Diaz @ 5/25/2013 9:16 PM

To just a Paisa, couldn't said it better myself!

julian @ 10/2/2013 8:06 PM


?? @ 10/14/2013 11:45 AM

Nahua doesn't describe all aboriginal people from mexico,Nahua describes only the aboriginal people of central northern mexico ,cuz in the Yucatan peninsula the aboriginal people is Mayan not NAHUA,in michoacan is purepecha not NAHUA,in Sonora is yaqui ,in Chihuahua is the tarahumara peoples,in Oaxaca zapoteco and mixteca mostly, so only a tiny fraction of the Mexican indigenous are NAHUA like 25%......

BlueCatMexica @ 7/28/2014 5:44 PM

Bitch ass pigg u must bee..tlkn all dat shit tryna make my culture look like shit,well fuck u fuken white dog shit..fuk u n ur pigass friend..reast in piss motherfuker..all cops hell ..god hates cops ,Straight MEXICA indio eyed devil,meet yur brownskinned rebel..SUR 13 ON MINES!!! kampoleros

BlueCatMexica @ 7/28/2014 5:50 PM

N fuk all haters^^^^^Straight azteca from tenochtitlan or wat is now called mexico city..were all da blood was shed for hundreds of years.the reason were cursed..n the warriorpart for all u bitch fukers who dnt knw shit or never been to prison were this shit maters....u earn urs!! U dnt jst called urself a warrior dumbfux puro Sur 13 VARRIO SANFER GANG

Shorty510 @ 8/29/2014 3:53 PM

Most of this stuff seem to be a writing of a racist pig

tlaloc @ 10/7/2014 8:17 PM

Please gente! Let's show some intellectual integrity. Nahuatl was and is spoken mostly in the region of the valley of Mexico by many different groups or tribes. The vast majority of indigeneous people in Mexico did not speak the language of the Mexica. Some speak/spoke languages which are linguistically related with nahuatl but sound nothing like it.
there are Tarasco(michoacan), Huicholes, Coras(nayarit)Tarahumaras(Chihuhua)Yaquis,Tohono ohdom,Seris, and Mayos (Sonora) and so on and so on and so on. Someone else wrote somthing similar and pointed out a few more tribes. Please again I ask, be intellectually honest. not all of us are Mexica or even close. some of us are descendants of the enemies of the mexica. for instance, the Mexica tried , on two different occasions to conquer(conquer? sound familiar?) Michoacan, but got their assess handed to them by the Tarascos. Twice!! Why cant some of you,who's roots are in Michoacan take pride in this. Read, Read, Read.

curious @ 12/4/2014 1:09 PM

I think for someone to call people teaching their culture racist shows more about you then them. Fact is Spanish settlers invaded, pillaged, and raped the culture in the name of the lord. They actually went so far as to destroy their writings and history which is why we have so many questions to this day. This is from your history books not made up ones. The Spanish conquered many cultures in a similar fashion so I tend to believe it. As far as pride in your people that too is a normal response in every culture. Americans interfere in worldly matters quiet often because we believe someone is treating their people wrong, to spread religion, or democratic practices and influence. When the Spanish concurred the Aztec people it was for these same reasons. Are these not examples of people believing they know better and are therefore superior to one's they target? Sad someone claiming to be educated enough to cast a judgement and it was an uneducated one.

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