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