“Just whose side are you on anyway?”

Any experienced gang cop knows that not everyone involved in creating the gang problem in a community is a gang member. A perverse symbiotic relationship exists between the parasitic gang members who victimize a community and some confused members of the community that they infect.

In past articles, I have mentioned the codling co-dependent parents of violent gang members who refuse to see that their children are monsters. Mothers mostly, the kind who spend what little financial resources a family might have to bail out their kid and pay for lawyers to defend him, to the great neglect of the rest of her dependents.

There are also many angry men and women who blame not their own but people of other races for the gang problem. These hate-filled racists come in all colors and can be found in any community. They believe that gang members are victims of the American system and not victims of their own choices. They justify the brutal bloody violence of their own on the imagined injustices of history past. Like the Nazis, they attach blame not to individuals but to the race of others.

Religiously camouflaged gang enablers use Christianity and other faiths to legitimize and even honor the criminal gang lifestyle. These misguided men and women of the cloth rarely criticize the gangs and continually find fault in the police and in anti-gang government programs. Unlike Jesus, these wimpy shepherd’s accept the predatory wolves among the flock and ask us to do the same. Some of these pseudo-religious clerics go so far as to hide wanted suspects in “sanctuaries” or “launch” them to another far away jurisdiction in order to keep them from investigations and the criminal justice system.

Of course there are also community political activists and left-wing radical lawyers and organizations like the ACLU, the Prison Law Collective, and the National Lawyers Guild that also enable gangs. But we all expect to run into these kinds of gang supporters. I want to mention a couple of unexpected gang supporters.

•Teachers

In the mid 1990s, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Violent Gang Task Force became aware of Margaret Farrell, a Los Angeles middle school teacher who maintained an active correspondence network with Mexican Mafia prison gang members throughout the state and federal systems. For over two years, the federal task force monitored the Foshay Learning Center social studies teacher as she relayed Mexican Mafia (La Eme) business messages among its incarcerated members. This Eme business included murders.

Margaret Farrell had been a middle school teacher since 1986. Besides social studies, she also specialized in teaching English as a second language. She soon became friends with members of the 18th Street gang. She remained in contact with several of them as they grew up and continued their criminal careers. She wrote them while they were in prison. Eventually as these 18th Street thugs became associates of the Mexican Mafia, so did Margaret Farrell.

“La Senora 18,” as Farrell was called by the gang, would receive coded and uncoded correspondence, which she would recopy and mail to other members of La Eme. She did this to circumvent the rules forbidding inmates from corresponding with other inmates.

Margaret Farrell was eventually indicted in July 1999 along with 15 gang members for racketeering, drug dealing, murders, and conspiracy to commit murders. She pled guilty to a lesser charge and received a short prison term and probation.

The Farrell case is not unique. In May 2002, a 38-year-old Orange County middle school teacher, Ronald Cummings, was arrested for his part in a-gang related incident involving brandishing a replica firearm and making terrorist threats.

Ronald Cummings could have passed for a gang member himself; he shaved his head, sported a “felony” mustache and postured like someone from the barrio. Cummings taught English at Portola Middle School, but got involved when a 14-year-old gangbanging student got into a fistfight with a 19-year-old neighbor. Cummings became the getaway driver when the 14-year-old, Cummings, and two 18-year-old homeboys returned to threaten the 19-year-old neighbor.

Police served a search warrant at Cummings’ apartment. They found gang paraphernalia and a replica gun. The 14-year-old student later pled guilty to making terrorist threats, and Superior Court Judge Elaine Streger reduced Cummings’ charges to a misdemeanor and dismissed the felony charges. Cummings pled guilty to the lesser charge.

Law Enforcement Officers
By far the most disturbing gang supporters are in law enforcement.
In 1996 the Los Angeles Federal Task Force booked a cooperating Mexican Mafia witness under the false name of Jesus Vargas at the Riverside County Jail.

We were hiding him out. This was in preparation to having him testify later in federal court against his former fellow Eme members.

Jesus Vargas was attacked in the Security Housing Unit by other inmates on the orders of Leonard “Lobster” Rangel, a Mexican Mafia associate. Vargas was stabbed repeatedly and his throat was slashed. He was actually killed and was revived by the heroic efforts of jail emergency medical staff.

We would later discover that a Riverside County deputy sheriff, Barbara Ann Flores, had betrayed her sacred oath and cooperated with the Mexican Mafia associates and other gang members in smuggling drugs and exposing not only Jesus Vargas but also another informant, Edwin Chavez.

The 39-year-old deputy had been originally a clerical worker with the Riverside District Attorney’s Office when she was first employed by the county. A victim of her abusive gang member husband, Barbara Ann eventually separated and divorced him, but after the divorce Barbara Ann became a single mother raising a family alone. Some of her friends in the Riverside District Attorney’s Office suggested that she should join the Riverside Sheriff’s Department in order to make more money and to have the opportunity for advancement.

Barbara Ann completed the Sheriff’s Academy and was assigned, like all new deputies to the County Jail. To all who knew her she seemed to be doing an excellent job. Unknown to her peers, she had formed a romantic relationship with Leonard “Lobster” Rangel.

Soon she was smuggling drugs to Mexican Mafia associates in the Security Housing Unit and having sex with them. She was a victim of the Sureño soldiers’ sweet talk. They conned her into searching the department computers to identify the informants Jesus Vargas and Edwin Chavez. She then conspired with the Sureño inmates to murder the “snitches.”

But how do we know this? Because when search warrants were served on Dep. Flores’ home, “love kites” from Leonard Rangel and a detailed diary were recovered. She eventually pled guilty in April 1999 for a reduced sentence of seven years. Dep. Flores later had a large Mexican Mafia tattoo inked in prison across her belly.

In my opinion, these supposed “non-gang” gang supporters are too often shown leniency by the prosecutors and courts.

They have as much culpability for the acts of the gang members they support as the actual drug dealing murderers. The bloody violence clearly stains the gang supporter’s hands as well, and it is their actions that make the violence possible. They are criminal conspirators and should be treated as such. More than the average citizen, they should have known better, and ignorance of the law is not a valid criminal defense.

Author

Richard Valdemar
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.

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Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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