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Carlos Lechuga was born in Cuba. A supporter of Fidel Castro, he became Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations. He has carried out many diplomatic missions representing Cuba in numerous international forums and conferences, including the UN Committees on Human Rights, Disarmament and Racial Discrimination.
In May, 1963, Lisa Howard published an article in the journal, War and Peace Report, Howard wrote that in eight hours of private conversations with Fidel Castro he had shown a strong desire for negotiations with the United States: "In our conversations he made it quite clear that he was ready to discuss: the Soviet personnel and military hardware on Cuban soil; compensation for expropriated American lands and investments; the question of Cuba as a base for Communist subversion throughout the Hemisphere." Howard went on to urge the Kennedy administration to "send an American government official on a quiet mission to Havana to hear what Castro has to say." A country as powerful as the United States, she concluded, "has nothing to lose at a bargaining table with Fidel Castro."
William Attwood read Howard's article and on 12th September, 1963, he had a long conversation with her on the phone. This apparently set in motion a plan to initiate secret talks between the United States and Cuba. Six days later Attwood sent a memorandum to Under Secretary of State Averell Harriman and U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Attwood asked for permission to establish discreet, indirect contact with Fidel Castro.
On September 20, John F. Kennedy gave permission to authorize Attwood's direct contacts with Carlos Lechuga. According to Attwood: "I then told Miss Howard to set up the contact, that is to have a small reception at her house so that it could be done very casually, not as a formal approach by us." Howard met Lechuga at the UN on 23rd September 23. Howard invited Lechuga to come to a party at her Park Avenue apartment that night to meet Attwood.
The next day William Attwood met with Robert Kennedy in Washington and reported on the talks with Lechuga. According to Attwood the attorney general believed that a trip to Cuba would be "rather risky." It was "bound to leak and... might result in some kind of Congressional investigation." Nevertheless, he thought the matter was "worth pursuing."
On 5th November 5, McGeorge Bundy recorded that "the President was more in favor of pushing towards an opening toward Cuba than was the State Department, the idea being - well, getting them out of the Soviet fold and perhaps wiping out the Bay of Pigs and maybe getting back into normal." Bundy designated his assistant, Gordon Chase, to be Attwood's direct contact at the White House.
Attwood continued to use Lisa Howard as his contact with Fidel Castro. In October 1963, Castro told Howard that he was very keen to open negotiations with Kennedy. Castro even offered to send a plane to Mexico to pick up Kennedy's representative and fly him to a private airport near Veradero where Castro would talk to him alone.
John F. Kennedy now decided to send William Attwood to meet Castro. On 14th November, 1963, Lisa Howard conveyed this message to her Cuban contact. In an attempt to show his good will, Kennedy sent a coded message to Castro in a speech delivered on 19th November. The speech included the following passage: "Cuba had become a weapon in an effort dictated by external powers to subvert the other American republics. This and this alone divides us. As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible."
Kennedy also sent a message to Fidel Castro via the French journalist Jean Daniel. According to Daniel: "Kennedy expressed some empathy for Castro's anti-Americanism, acknowledging that the United States had committed a number of sins in pre-revolutionary Cuba." Kennedy told Daniel that the trade embargo against Cuba could be lifted if Castro ended his support for left-wing movements in the Americas.
At the time of Kennedy's death, Lechuga had just received diplomatic instructions from Castro on the agenda of a potential highlevel meeting between Cuban and U.S. officials to discuss negotiations on improved relations.
In 1995 Wayne Smith, chief of the Centre for International Policy in Washington, arranged a meeting on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, in Nassau, Bahamas. Others in attendance were: Gaeton Fonzi, Dick Russell, Noel Twyman, Anthony Summers, Peter Dale Scott, Jeremy Gunn, John Judge, Andy Kolis, Peter Kornbluh, Mary and Ray LaFontaine, Jim Lesar, John Newman, Alan Rogers, Russ Swickard, Ed Sherry, and Gordon Winslow.
Some high-level Cuban officials attended the conference. This included Carlos Lechuga and Fabian Escalante, a senior official in the Interior Ministry and Arturo Rodriguez, a State Security official.
Carlos Lechuga is also the author of In the Eye of the Storm: Castro, Khrushchev, Kennedy and the Missile Crisis (1995) and Cuba and the Missile Crisis: Cuba's UN Envoy Tells the Inside Story (2002).
He (Daniel) spoke with Kennedy. He wanted to speak of Vietnam. Kennedy didn't want to talk about Vietnam. He wanted to talk about Cuba and nothing else. He (Daniel) went and spoke with Castro and asked him: "How do you feel about the Missile Crisis?" during this conversation is when they heard on the radio that Kennedy was assassinated. Fidel in talking at a 1992 conference, said that he had thought Daniel was serving as a messenger of Kennedy. And he thought that Kennedy was capable and willing of changing his policies. He was popular. He was in good position to make such a decision to change his policies.
Kennedy speaking through McGeorge Bundy said there should be an agenda for dialogue with Cuba. Of course I sent all the information of these conversations with Attwood to Havana. In Havana, the responses were delayed. According to Attwood's perception, the responses were very slow. He wanted to accelerate the process somewhat. Havana was moving too slowly. And at this moment, without his knowledge, Lisa Howard called Cuba and spoke with Commandante Vallejo, who was the assistant to Fidel Castro. In order to try and accelerate the process. She had known him in Cuba before. To try to take advantage of her friendship with him, in order to try to get a quicker response from the Cubans. In November, Vallejo was contacted Lechuga and told me they are working on the agenda. But the agenda never really arrived because they killed Kennedy. Attwood said that JFK said through somebody, maybe McGeorge Bundy, that Kennedy had left a note for himself on his desk that upon his return from Dallas to contact Attwood to find out how the Cuban initiative was going... They were discussing, considering the questions. Considering formulating agenda. Then they killed Kennedy.
In February 1996, Robert Kennedy Jr. and his brother, Michael, traveled to Havana to meet with Fidel Castro. As a gesture of goodwill, they brought a file of formerly top secret US documents on the Kennedy administration's covert exploration of an accommodation with Cuba - a record of what might have been had not Lee Harvey Oswald, seemingly believing the president to be an implacable foe of Castro's Cuba, fired his fateful shots in Dallas. Castro thanked them for the file and shared his "impression that it was (President Kennedy's) intention after the missile crisis to change the framework" of relations between the United States and Cuba. "It's unfortunate," said Castro, that "things happened as they did, and he could not do what he wanted to do."
Would John F. Kennedy, had he lived, have been able to establish a modus vivendi with Fidel Castro? The question haunts almost 40 years of acrimonious U.S.-Cuba relations. In a Top Secret - Eyes Only memorandum written three days after the president's death, one of his White House aides, Gordon Chase, noted that "President Kennedy could have accommodated with Castro and gotten away with it with a minimum of domestic heat"--because of his track record "of being successfully nasty to Castro and the Communists" during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Castro and his advisers believed the same. A CIA intelligence report, based on a high-level Cuban source and written for National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy in 1964, noted that "Fidel Castro felt that it was possible that President Kennedy would have gone on ultimately to negotiate with Cuba... (as an) acceptance of a fait accompli for practical reasons."
The file on the Kennedy administration's "Cuban contacts" that Robert Jr. and Michael took to Cuba (declassified at the request of the author) sheds significant light on a story that has never been fully told - John Kennedy's secret pursuit of a rapprochement with Fidel Castro. Along with papers recently released pursuant to the Kennedy Assassination Records Act of 1992, the documents reveal the escalating efforts toward negotiations in 1963 that, if successful, might have changed the ensuing decades of perpetual hostility between Washington and Havana. Given the continuing state of tension with Castro's regime, this history carries an immediate relevance for present policy makers. Indeed, with the Clinton administration buffeted between increasingly vocal critics of US policy toward Cuba and powerful proponents of the status quo, reconstructing the hitherto secret record of Kennedy's efforts in the fall of 1963 to advance "the rapprochement track" with Castro is more relevant than ever.
John F. Kennedy would seem the most unlikely of presidents to seek an accommodation with Fidel Castro. His tragically abbreviated administration bore responsibility for some of the most infamous US efforts to roll back the Cuban revolution: the Bay of Pigs invasion, the trade embargo, Operation Mongoose (a US plan to destabilize the Castro government) and a series of CIA-Mafia assassination attempts against the Cuban leader. Castro's demise, Seymour M. Hersh argues in his book, The Dark Side of Camelot, "became a presidential obsession" until the end. "The top priority in the United States government - all else is secondary - no time, money, effort, or manpower is to be spared" is to find a "solution" to the Cuba problem, Attorney General Robert Kennedy told a high-level group of CIA and Pentagon officials in early 1962. The president's opinion, according to CIA minutes of the meeting, was that "the final chapter (on Cuba) has not been written."
Unbeknownst to all but his brother and a handful of advisers, however, in 1963 John Kennedy began pursuing an alternative script on Cuba: a secret dialogue toward an actual rapprochement with Castro. To a policy built upon "overt and covert nastiness," as Top Secret White House memoranda characterized US operations against Cuba, was added "the sweet approach," meaning the possibility of "quietly enticing Castro over to us." National Security Council officials referred to this multitrack policy as "simil-opting"--the use of disparate methods toward the goal of moving Cuba out of the Soviet orbit...
Which country initiated the secret dialogue in the fall of 1963 remains a subject of historical dispute. The feelers toward a rapprochement "originally came, one might say, from their side," testified William Attwood, the key US official involved in the subsequent talks, in a top secret deposition in 1975. In an interview, Cuba's former ambassador to the United Nations, Carlos Lechuga, insisted that "this was a Kennedy initiative, not Cuba's."
It was March 1963, the height of the Cold War - a time of covert US government assassination plots against Fidel Castro, Kennedy administration-sponsored exile raids and sabotage missions directed at Cuba.
It was also a time when Castro - still smarting from Moscow's failure to consult him about the withdrawal of missiles from the island in 1962 - was sending feelers to Washington about Cuba's interest in rapprochement.
President John F. Kennedy responded by overruling the State Department's position that Cuba break its ties with Soviet bloc nations as a precondition for talks on normal relations, according to an account to be published this week in the October issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine.
"The President himself is very interested in this one,'' says a March 1963 top-secret White House memo. ``The President does not agree that we should make the breaking of Sino-Soviet ties a non-negotiable point. We don't want to present Castro with a condition that he obviously cannot fulfill. We should start thinking along more flexible lines.''
The article, JFK and Castro: The Secret Quest for Accommodation, is based on recently declassified documents and written by Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the Washington-based National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research institute. It traces the secret U.S.-Cuban contacts during the last months of the Kennedy administration and into the Johnson administration.
Although the general outlines of the contacts have been known, the account adds considerable detail, particularly the key role played by the late ABC correspondent Lisa Howard, who interviewed Castro in April 1963.
In addition to Howard, key players were McGeorge Bundy, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations' national security advisor, his assistant Gordon Chase and William Attwood, former Look magazine editor who at the time was an advisor to the US mission at the United Nations.
On the Cuban side, the principal players were Carlos Lechuga, Cuba's UN ambassador, and Rene Vallejo, Castro's personal physician.
Initial overtures from Castro to Washington in late 1962 had been made through New York lawyer James Donovan, who had been enlisted by the Kennedy administration to negotiate the release of Bay of Pigs prisoners.
Efforts at normalization languished, however, until the involvement of Howard and Attwood started to bear fruit in the latter part of 1963.
In September, Attwood was authorized to have direct contacts with Lechuga, which were arranged by Howard at a Sept. 23 reception in her New York apartment. Attwood was to subsequently confer with Vallejo by telephone from Howard's apartment or she would relay messages between the two.
At one point, Vallejo conveyed a message to Attwood through Howard that said, "Castro would like to talk to the US official anytime and appreciates the importance of discretion to all concerned. Castro would therefore be willing to send a plane to Mexico to pick up the official and fly him to a private airport near Varadero where Castro would talk to him alone. The plane would fly him back immediately.''
The invitation touched off a debate within the White House, with President Kennedy's position being that "it did not seem practicable'' to send an American official to Cuba "at this stage.''
Even so, the contacts continued to gain momentum until Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, when the "Attwood-Lechuga tie line'' was put on hold, with White House aides concerned that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's reported pro-Castro sympathies would make an accommodation more difficult.
The back-channel contacts continued under President Lyndon Johnson through 1964, according to Kornbluh, but fizzled out in late 1964 as the fall presidential elections approached, despite ongoing efforts by Howard to keep them alive.
In December 1964, Howard made her final and unsuccessful effort by trying to arrange a meeting in New York between US officials and Ernesto "Che'' Guevara, the Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary.
A few days before his assassination, President Kennedy was planning a meeting with Cuban officials to negotiate the normalisation of relations with Fidel Castro, according to a newly declassified tape and White House documents.
The rapprochement was cut off in Dallas 40 years ago this week by Lee Harvey Oswald, who appears to have believed he was assassinating the president in the interests of the Cuban revolution.
But the new evidence suggests that Castro saw Kennedy's killing as a setback. He tried to restart a dialogue with the next administration, but Lyndon Johnson was at first too concerned about appearing soft on communism and later too distracted by Vietnam to respond.
A later attempt to restore normal relations by President Carter was defeated by a rightwing backlash, and since then any move towards lifting the Cuban trade embargo has been opposed by Cuban exile groups, who wield disproportionate political power from Florida.
Peter Kornbluh, a researcher at Washington's National Security Archives who has reviewed the new evidence, said: "It shows that the whole history of US-Cuban relations might have been quite different if Kennedy had not been assassinated."
Castro and Kennedy's tentative flirtation came at a time of extraordinary acrimony in the wake of US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles and the missile crisis which led the world to the brink of nuclear war.
It began with a secret and highly unorthodox dialogue conducted through an intrepid journalist and former soap-opera actor and involved plans to fly a US diplomat from Mexico to Cuba for a clandestine face-to-face meeting with Castro alone in an aircraft hangar.
On a newly declassified Oval Office audiotape, recorded only 17 days before the assassination, Kennedy can be heard discussing the option with his national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy.
The president agrees in principle to send an American diplomat, Bill Attwood, who had once interviewed Castro during a former career as a journalist, but he fretted that news of the secret mission would leak out. At one point Kennedy asks: "Can't we get Mr Attwood off the payroll?" If the diplomat was no longer on staff the whole trip would be deniable if it came to light.
Kennedy had been thinking about reopening relations with Havana since spring that year.
The key intermediary was Lisa Howard, an actor who had become a leading television journalist when she managed to land an interview with the Soviet leader, Nikita Krushchev.
In April 1963, she scored another coup - an interview with Castro, and returned with a message for the Kennedy administration, that the Cuban leader was anxious to talk. The message launched a frantic period of diplomacy, recounted in a television documentary broadcast last night on the Discovery Times channel, entitled "A President, A Revolutionary, A Reporter".
The president was receptive. The CIA was pursuing various schemes aimed at assassinating or undermining Castro, but Kennedy's aides were increasingly convinced Havana could be weaned away from Moscow.
In one memorandum a senior White House aide, Gordon Chase, says: "We have not yet looked seriously at the other side of the coin - quietly enticing Castro over to us," instead of looking at ways to hurt him.
According to Mr Bundy, Kennedy "was more in favour of pushing towards an opening toward Cuba than was the state department, the idea being... getting them out of the Soviet fold and perhaps wiping out the Bay of Pigs and getting back to normal".
The administration gave a nod to Ms Howard, who set up a chance meeting between Mr Attwood and the Cuban ambassador to the UN, Carlos Lechuga, at a cocktail party in her Park Avenue apartment.
The apartment then became a communications centre between Mr Attwood and the Castro regime. Castro's aide, Dr Rene Vallejo, called at pre-arranged times to talk to Mr Attwood, and in the autumn of 1963 suggested that Mr Attwood fly to Mexico from where he would be picked up by a plane sent by Castro. The plane would take him to a private airport near Veradero, Cuba, where the Cuban leader would talk to him alone in a hangar. He would be flown back after the talks.
Kennedy and Bundy discuss the plan on the tape on November 5. The national security adviser does much of the talking but the president is clearly worried that the trip will be leaked. First he suggests taking Mr Attwood off the state department payroll, but later he decided even that was too risky. Instead, he suggested DR Vallejo fly to the UN for a confidential meeting to discuss the agenda of direct talks with Castro.
The plan, however, was sunk by the assassination. Ms Howard continued to bring messages back to Washington from Castro, in which the Cuban leader expresses his support for President Johnson's 1964 election and even offers to turn the other cheek if the new US leader wanted to indulge in some electoral Cuba-bashing. But the Johnson White House was far more cautious. The new president did not have the cold war credentials of having faced down the Soviet Union over the Cuban missile crisis. The moment had passed.
On the 40th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the eve of the broadcast of a new documentary film on Kennedy and Castro, the National Security Archive today posted an audio tape of the President and his national security advisor, McGeorge Bundy, discussing the possibility of a secret meeting in Havana with Castro. The tape, dated only seventeen days before Kennedy was shot in Dallas, records a briefing from Bundy on Castro's invitation to a US official at the United Nations, William Attwood, to come to Havana for secret talks on improving relations with Washington. The tape captures President Kennedy's approval if official US involvement could be plausibly denied.
The possibility of a meeting in Havana evolved from a shift in the President's thinking on the possibility of what declassified White House records called "an accommodation with Castro" in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Proposals from Bundy's office in the spring of 1963 called for pursuing "the sweet approach…enticing Castro over to us," as a potentially more successful policy than CIA covert efforts to overthrow his regime. Top Secret White House memos record Kennedy's position that "we should start thinking along more flexible lines" and that "the president, himself, is very interested in (the prospect for negotiations)." Castro, too, appeared interested. In a May 1963 ABC News special on Cuba, Castro told correspondent Lisa Howard that he considered a rapprochement with Washington "possible if the United States government wishes it. In that case," he said, "we would be agreed to seek and find a basis" for improved relations.
Cannes: Breaking Glass Pictures Snags Carlos Lechuga’s ‘Santa & Andres’ (EXCLUSIVE)
Breaking Glass Pictures has snapped up the North American distribution rights to Carlos Lechuga&rsquos political drama &ldquoSanta & Andres,&rdquo which has been banned in Cuba.
Sales agent Alfredo Calvino of Habanero Film Sales inked the deal with Breaking Glass CEO Rich Wolff at the Cannes Marché du Film. Breaking Glass plans a limited theatrical release in the fourth quarter of this year, followed by a release on DVD and VOD.
&ldquoThe film has had an extensive festival round after it premiered last year at TIFF [Toronto Int&rsquol Film Fest] and won the Best Performance Award at MIFF [Miami Int&rsquol Film Festival], among others,&rdquo said Calvino.
Lechuga&rsquos Cuban-Colombian-French co-production recently also took both best Ibero-American fiction feature and actress for its lead Lola Amores, as well as a Premio Maguey Special Mention for male lead Eduardo Martinez, at the Guadalajara Int&rsquol Film Fest in March. A week before, both leads picked up a best performance award at the 34 th Miami Int&rsquol Film Fest, which announced its winners on March 11.
In December 2016, though initially selected, &ldquoSanta y Andres&rdquo did not screen at the 38 th Int&rsquol Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana after it was rejected by fest backer ICAIC, Cuba&rsquos state-run film institute, for its storyline on an unlikely friendship between a gay novelist under house arrest and the revolutionary peasant woman sent to keep an eye on him.
Carlos Lechuga - History
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Howard was born in Cambridge, Ohio.  Her family was Jewish.  She attended Miami University for a year before dropping out to pursue an acting career.  At the age of 18, Howard moved to Los Angeles and joined the Pasadena Playhouse. From there she pursued a film and television career. In 1953, the entertainment magazine People Today featured her on its front page, calling her "TV's First Lady of Sin". She also played roles on The Edge of Night, As the World Turns and Guiding Light for CBS Television in the 1950s. After moving to New York City, Howard starred in the off-Broadway show, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore.
In the late 1950s, Howard decided to make a major career change. She began working as a stringer for the Mutual Radio Network. She covered the 1960 Democratic National Convention and became the first American reporter to interview Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Due to the widespread attention generated by that interview, in 1961 she was hired by ABC News as their first female correspondent to cover the Vienna summit between Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy. She also served as the editor for the political journal War/Peace Report, and wrote a novel On Stage, Miss Douglas, released in 1960. 
In 1963, ABC promoted her to be the first female anchor of a news broadcast geared toward housewives called Lisa Howard and News with a Woman's Touch.  As part of the broadcast, she interviewed famous and influential world personalities, among them the Shah of Iran, Eleanor Roosevelt, Barry Goldwater, and Nelson Rockefeller. In April 1963, she traveled to Cuba to make an ABC special on Cuban leader Fidel Castro.  During his filmed interview, as well as in private conversation with Howard, Castro made it clear that Cuba was interested in improved relations with Washington. On her return to the U.S., she was debriefed by CIA deputy director, Richard Helms. In a secret memorandum of conversation sent to President Kennedy, Helms reported: "Lisa Howard definitely wants to impress the U.S. Government with two facts: Castro is ready to discuss rapprochement and she herself is ready to discuss it with him if asked to do so by the U.S. Government."  Subsequently, Howard used her Upper East Side apartment for the first meeting between a U.S. and Cuban diplomat, and for phone communications between Castro and the Kennedy administration. 
According to her daughter, Fritzi, Howard became involved with Castro and viewed herself as a grand player on the stage of history. In an article for Politico detailing their relationship, Peter Kornbluh describes Howard's role as a liaison between the United States and Cuba as "intimate diplomacy," explaining that "her role as peacemaker was built on a complex, little-understood rapport she managed to forge with Castro himself – a relationship that was political and personal, intellectual and intimate.”  In order to continue the reconciliation agenda, she set up a meeting between UN diplomat William Attwood and Cuba's UN representative Carlos Lechuga on September 23, 1963, at her Upper East Side New York apartment, under the cover of a cocktail party. With Howard's support, the Kennedy White House was organizing a secret meeting with an emissary of Fidel Castro in November 1963 at the United Nations—a plan that was aborted when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, objected to normalizing relations with Cuba as he feared this would make him appear soft on Communism. Howard continued to work toward better relations, returning to Cuba to do another ABC special with Castro in February 1964 and becoming a go-between for communications between Washington and Havana.  When Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara came to New York in December 1964, she hosted a cocktail party for him and arranged a meeting between Guevara and U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy. A selection of Howard's personal papers, including a draft letter to her "Dearest Fidel," a draft letter to President Kennedy, and her 1964 interview with Che Guevara, are available to read on the George Washington University-based National Security Archive's website. 
In September 1964, Howard helped form a political group called "Democrats for Keating"—a group of liberal Democrats that included Gore Vidal, who opposed Robert F. Kennedy's bid to become a U.S. senator representing the state of New York. ABC News warned her that her public partisan politics would lead to her dismissal. Howard nevertheless continued to work openly in support of Kennedy's Republican opponent, Kenneth Keating. In the fall of 1964, ABC cancelled her news show and fired Howard.
Howard was married twice and had two children. Her first marriage was to film director Felix E. Feist, with whom she had a daughter, Fritzi. The couple later divorced. Howard later married producer Walter Lowendahl, with whom she had a daughter, Anne. 
Devastated by the loss of her career, Howard suffered a miscarriage in June 1965 and was hospitalized with depression. On July 4, 1965, while on an Independence Day vacation in the Hamptons with her family, she took a fatal overdose of barbiturates. Her death was ruled a suicide. 
Julia Ormond portrayed Howard in the Steven Soderbergh film Che (2008).
Nace en el barrio habanero de La Víbora, municipio Diez de Octubre, el 28 de febrero de 1918. Su abuelo paterno, el camagüeyano Manuel Lechuga y de la Torre, fue coronel de las Guerras de Independencia. A los 17 años comienza su vida dentro del periodismo, en la emisora CMCR de la Víbora. En 1937 entra como aprendiz en el diario El Mundo, donde desempeñó diversas funciones vinculadas al periodismo. A finales de los años treinta, trabajó en las publicaciones de tendencia auténtica Luz y Patria. En 1940 dirigió un programa musical en la emisora CMOX.
Fue reportero de Sociedades Españolas, de la Universidad de La Habana, cubrió los sucesos cotidianos del Palacio Presidencial y trabajó como cronista parlamentario. Posteriormente se destacó en la revista Bohemia, en la cual fue uno de los fundadores de la sección En Cuba (1943-1949) junto a Enrique de la Osa. En esta sección ejerció el periodismo de investigación, e inició, además, la modalidad de mesas redondas.
Ante el ofrecimiento de asumir la página política, regresó al periódico El Mundo en una segunda etapa, durante la cual fue jefe de la plana política y publicaba su conocida columna diaria Claridades. Recibió el certificado de aptitud periodística de la Escuela Profesional de Periodismo “Márquez Sterling” en 1944 por su oficio, talento y ética en la profesión. Ingresó en el Colegio Nacional de Periodistas en 1945.
A partir de 1954, además de su labor en la prensa plana, dirigió varios programas informativos en el Canal 2 de televisión, entre ellos, El Mundo en televisión, espacio donde debutó haciendo los controles remotos. Participó en otros programas, entre ellos el dedicado a la Universidad de La Habana, donde los profesores trataban temas académicos y teóricos, también Telemundo pregunta, programa de panel con corta duración y Claridades, donde entrevistaba cada semana a una personalidad diferente, simultaneando ocasionalmente en esa década varios artículos para otros órganos de prensa, entre ellos, la emisora Radio Reporter.
Fue colaborador de las revistas Siempre, Hoy y Humanismo de México, publicó en varios países de América Latina y Estados Unidos como La Prensa de Nueva York.
Sus trabajos periodísticos anteriores al triunfo revolucionario se centran en temas nacionales, en especial con carácter de denuncia frente a la corrupción de los gobiernos republicanos. Luego del golpe de estado de 1952, Lechuga conjuga su oficio de periodista con la actividad insurreccional.
Participó en la lucha clandestina contra la dictadura de Fulgencio Batista. Ingresó en el Movimiento de Resistencia Cívica del 26-7 y contribuyó a acciones como la llevada a efecto con el secuestro Fangio, corredor de Fórmula Uno, en que ayudó a su devolución y tomo parte en la Huelga del 9 de Abril.
Utilizó los medios de comunicación a su alcance para burlar la censura y luchar contra la dictadura. Luego de los sucesos del 26 de julio de 1953 abogó por la amnistía para Fidel Castro y el resto de los moncadistas. Denunció los crímenes de los esbirros, defendió la autonomía universitaria, y contribuyó a romper el cerco informativo en torno a los combates en la Sierra Maestra.
Fue el primero en anunciar en televisión la huída de Batista, a quien calificó de asesino y tirano, al mismo tiempo que se hacía eco del llamamiento a la huelga general. Estuvo también entre los primeros periodistas que entrevistaron a Fidel luego del 1 de enero de 1959.
Después del triunfo de la Revolución Cubana, como diplomático ocupó primeramente el cargo de Ministro Plenipotenciario y Enviado Extraordinario de Cuba en las Naciones Unidas, en Nueva York, de febrero a julio de 1959. El 18 de julio de ese año se le designó Embajador de Cuba en Chile. El 28 de diciembre de 1959 fue nombrado Embajador en Misión Especial en América Latina.
En marzo de 1960, Carlos Lechuga sustituyó como Embajador de la OEA al Dr. Levy Marrero, quien había sido nombrado Director del periódico El Mundo. Sin embargo continuó colaborando con Bohemia y otras publicaciones cubanas desde su posición en el servicio exterior.
En febrero de 1962 se le designó Director de Organismos Internacionales del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. Posteriormente fue nombrado Embajador en México.
A finales de 1962, durante la Crisis de Octubre, se le trasladó a Nueva York como Embajador, Representante Permanente de Cuba en la ONU y posteriormente estuvo al frente de la delegación cubana al decimoctavo período de sesiones de la Asamblea General de dicha organización.
Participó en misiones oficiales especiales en Asia, África, América Latina y Medio Oriente. Ocupó las funciones de Director Político de África, Asia y América Latina en el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. En enero de 1970 se le designó Comisionado General de Cuba en la Exposición Universal de Osaka, Japón.
Del 22 de enero de 1971 hasta 1978 fungió como Embajador Representante Permanente de Cuba ante las Naciones Unidas e Instituciones Especializadas con sede en Suiza, con residencia en Ginebra.
Entre otras funciones, ha sido Jefe de las delegaciones de Cuba a la Conferencia Diplomática sobre la Reafirmación y el Desarrollo del Derecho Internacional Humanitario Aplicable a los Conflictos Armados en los años 1974, 1975 y 1977 a la Reunión Ministerial del GATT, celebrada en Tokio, del 2 al 14 de septiembre de 1973, a la Conferencia de los Países en Desarrollo sobre las materias primas, celebrada en Dakar, del 3 al 8 de febrero de 1975. En 1978 fue nombrado Director de Organismos Internacionales del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores.
Ha sido miembro, a título personal, de la Junta Consultiva sobre Estudios de Desarme que asesoró al Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas en dos ocasiones, de 1980 a 1981, y de 1984 a 1989.
Fue delegado a los decimocuarto, trigésimo cuarto, trigésimo quinto y cuadragésimo períodos de sesiones de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York. Resultó electo Vicepresidente de la Primera Comisión de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas en 1985, durante el cuadragésimo período de sesiones.
Fungió como Embajador Extraordinario y Plenipotenciario de Cuba en Portugal, de 1981 a 1983. De 1984 a 1989 fue, de nuevo, Embajador Representante Permanente de Cuba ante la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas e Instituciones Especializadas con Sede en Suiza.
Ocupó la Presidencia de la Conferencia de Desarme en 1986. Ese mismo año fue electo Presidente del Comité Negociador de Armas Radiológicas. Ha sido Coordinador del Grupo Latinoamericano de Ginebra en dos oportunidades. Fungió como Coordinador del Grupo de los 21 de la Conferencia de Desarme.
En septiembre de 1989 fue jefe de la delegación de Cuba que asistió como observadora a la retirada de las tropas vietnamitas de Camboya.
Hasta el año 2001 fue miembro del Comité por la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial con sede en Ginebra para lo cual fue elegido en 1990 y reelecto en 1994 y 1998.
En dos ocasiones en la década del sesenta interrumpió su labor diplomática, cuando lo nombraron presidente del Consejo Nacional de Cultura y al desempeñar el cargo de secretario general adjunto de la Organización de Solidaridad para Asia, África y América Latina (OSPAAAL).
A Fistful of Dollars
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Photo by Carlos Lechuga
Translator’s note: On July 16, 2020, the Cuban government announced a set of economic reforms that includes the immediate rescission of the 10 percent surcharge on the US dollar. This move coincides with the decision to open stores, designated tiendas de MLC (stores in freely convertible currency), in which Cubans may purchase—in dollars, using a variety of magnetic stripe cards—food, toiletries, and other goods that are in short supply in stores that trade in either of the country’s two currencies, the Cuban peso and the convertible peso. The immediate impact is twofold: it provides the bankrupt nation with much-needed hard currency, which Cubans receive through remittances, while at the same time disadvantaging ordinary Cubans who have no access to dollars. – George Henson
July 16, 6:30pm. My mother, with seventy years in tow, sits on the edge of her bed, her gaze fixed on the television. A group of government officials is trying to convince the population of something. Something to do with foreign currency. I hear the phrases: freely convertible currency, the enemy, social media, ounces of beans, etc.
I don’t pay attention to what they’re saying. Naturally, I’m suspicious. I don’t believe them.
I invest my time in looking at the old woman’s face. She nods. This is different, she tells me. This time they’re really doing things to help.
I can’t hold back, and I laugh. Mom ignores me and continues to watch the Mesa Redonda like a small child. [i]
She seems to believe them.
I put down the phone and begin to take note of my mother’s body. Her adipose legs covered in veins. Her knees that cause her so many problems. Her worn nightgown.
(My mother, with the punctuality of a Japanese train, goes to bed every day at eight.)
I see her arms. The wrinkles on her neck. Her hopeful eyes. Hopeful once again.
The news of the day is that the dollar is going to trade equal to the Cuban convertible peso, and that they’re going to open a slew of new stores, but only for those who have dollars. [ii]
I look at my mother’s hands. She has a habit of playing with her nails. I remember how years ago, many years ago, she abandoned her studies to go cut sugarcane for the revolution. Also for the revolution, she left one of her boyfriends to go plant coffee.
(My mom hasn’t been lucky in love.)
I look at her chin. It has a drop of the café con leche we had for dinner.
She gave all her youth—beauty, intelligence, ability—to the great dream. To the magnificent project that was supposed to lift us all out of poverty.
Somewhere around here there’s a recording of Fidel talking about beef, chicken, milk, and eggs, which looks like a scene taken from a bad science-fiction movie. Mexican science fiction. Saints against National Production you could call it.
Just yesterday she was telling one of her friends a story about “Operation Cobblestone” (the old woman made handicrafts, sold fried stuffed potatoes, rented rooms, edited and designed books). According to her, one of her friends was arrested in the operation, an excellent craftsman, supposedly for possessing illegally obtained leather. For those who don’t know, “Operation Cobblestone” was a police operation carried out against craftspeople. It happened many years ago. [iii]
Well, the point is that her friend, whom the police look for at his house, had a hundred-dollar bill hidden in the pages of an old book by José Martí. A policeman searches the bookcase. He grabs the aforementioned book, opens it, turns it upside down, shakes it, and, by some miracle, the bill doesn’t fall out.
At the time the dollar was banned. The friend was off a few days. His friends mobilized, and through some contacts in high places they attempted to save their friend, but their happiness was short-lived. It turned out to be a trick. Although they said they were taking him to a meeting, the truth is they were taking him to jail. He was in prison for a year out of sheer pleasure.
After that, the old woman said, the mulatto wasn’t good for anything anymore. They’d damaged him.
One of my aunts had to swallow a fifty-dollar bill to avoid going to jail.
One of my aunts had to swallow a fifty-dollar bill to avoid going to jail.
I’m not good at anecdotes, but on countless occasions I’ve listened to Mom tell them.
Still, today the old woman was like a little sheep, innocent, believing what they were saying on TV: everything was for the good of the people.
Mom had to raise me almost alone, with the help of my grandmother, and she worked like a wild woman to give us a home. In the middle of the Special Period, [iv] she had to put aside her health problems to get on a bicycle and travel miles in search of shark meat or used cooking oil.
The oil was black imagine what that did to the arteries. But it doesn’t matter. We were lucky. There were people worse off.
The old woman survived the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, the aughts, and now, in the middle of a pandemic, this strange thing was happening too.
My mother, before 2006, couldn’t enter hotels like the rest of Cubans.
She couldn’t have a cell phone. She couldn’t travel. She couldn’t and can’t buy a car.
My mother earned about twenty dollars a month.
She was fortunate that her father was an ambassador and, at one time, once a year, she was able to go to a store at 3rd and 70th to buy food you couldn’t find anywhere else on the island.
The old woman, at one time, had to put me to sleep with her on a bed in the living room of the house so she could rent the back room. At the time, a neighbor turned her in for not having a rental permit, and she was fined four hundred dollars.
Nowadays, my mother has a hard time understanding and doing the math with the three currencies in use throughout the country: the dollar, the Cuban peso, the Cuban convertible peso.
I look at her eyes. How many more Mesas Redondas is she going to believe?
How long are average Cubans going to have to continue enduring this situation?
My mom doesn’t remember what cow’s milk tastes like.
The officials who appear on the screen today aren’t the same as a few years ago. Some things have changed, but, in general, everything continues to be the same.
The city is crumbling, and hotels continue to be built. At the entrance to Varadero, there used to be a big sign that read: “All the money collected here is for the people.” [v]
How must those who went to prison for owning dollars feel?
Cuba is like a great game. They congratulate you today for the very thing they punished you for yesterday.
Cuba is like a great game. They congratulate you today for the very thing they punished you for yesterday.
If yesterday they told you to “jump,” today they say “duck.” And people, without thinking twice, obey.
Right now I have only one task, to try to keep the old woman happy and find some protein for her to eat, some salad, or vegetables. I have some dollars, a few pesos, and a little bit in convertible currency, and I don’t have the slightest idea what I should do.
I don’t have a guide. I know, no matter what I do, that I’m going to lose.
I get up off the floor and leave the room.
Already on social media, the memes and jokes about the new measures are starting.
“Humor” is what saves Cubans, people say.
The “new normal” doesn’t seem to be bringing anything good. That was predictable. A country that was already in crisis before has to be worse off now.
The “new normal” doesn’t seem to be bringing anything good.
It looks like the show is over. The old woman drags her flipflops and walks to the refrigerator. She opens the door, leans on it, looks inside. Time stops. The cold air hits her in the face.
Cold Air, For Better or for Worse . [vi] And probably for the next year, Nitza Villapol, pizza with cheese preservative, Russian canned meat, chicken instead of fish. All of this comes to mind as I look at Mom. [vii]
I’m almost forty years old now, and I need to clear my head. I have to defragment my hard drive. Dear God, look at all this shit they’ve dumped on us!
The old woman grabs a piece of bread and puts it on to toast. I can’t leave her alone. I imagine her, alone, in her seventies, in a long queue trying to buy something in X currency.
What will become of the old people who are alone, if the stores in Cuban pesos, the bodegas with the ration card, [viii] and the stores in convertible pesos are enduring, have endured, and will continue to endure raging scarcity?
If all the authorities say is “foreign exchange collection, foreign exchange collection,” without thinking about the human cost.
If we Cubans receive a salary in Cuban pesos and are forced to buy food in another currency, plus a huge tax.
If the prices are outrageous.
If the guards who protect the government’s currencies stand on the sidewalks, brandishing weapons . . .
How could I leave my mother, innocent, old, alone? In the middle of the Wild West?
Many images come to mind. Dust. Bullets. Old horses. Six-shooters.
A western by . . . Clint Eastwood. Sergio Leone. John Ford.
Survival of the fittest. Every man for himself.
I don’t understand this experiment. I don’t believe anything that appears on TV. But maybe like Good Bye, Lenin!, my mission is to keep the old woman happy, away from any concern.
I don’t have the slightest idea how this movie is going to end.
I don’t have the slightest idea how this movie is going to end. This movie from the archives that’s already lasted too long. I just hope it ends soon and that it ends without blood.
But it is hard to know. In any case, in every good western there is always a duel at the end.
Carlos Lechuga - History
THE MEXICAN MAFIA TIMELINE – brought to you by Murderpedia.org
It all started with the birth of La Eme leaders in the 1920s
April 24, 1923 — Henry “Hank” Leyva born in Tuscon, Arizona.
April 10, 1929 — Joe “Pegleg” Morgan born.
1935 – 1st generation “Originals” of Hoyo Maravilla gang forms.
1939 – 2nd generation “Cherries” of Hoyo Maravilla gang forms.
December 1941 — Henry “Hank” Leyva, Joe Valenzuela and Jack Melendez all members from 38th street gang in Long Beach arrested on suspicion of armed robbery. Charges dropped against Joe Valenzuela and Jack Melendez but Leyva is rebooked on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Leyva pled guilty and received a 3 month county jail term.
August 2, 1942 — Gang fight involving 38th street gang from Long Beach and a Downey gang results in the death of Jose Diaz.
January 13, 1943 — 11 members of the 38th street gang are sentenced to prison for the murder of Jose Diaz.
June 3, 1943 — The Zoot Suite Riots erupt in Los Angeles. Many blame the racial tension in the city as a result of the treatment hispanics were subjected to while they searched for the killers of Jose Diaz.
October 4, 1943 — District Court of Appeals dismisses the case against the members of the 38th st. and orders them freed from custody.
1946 — Joe Morgan [Maravilla gang] beats the husband of his 32 year old girlfriend to death and buries the body in a shallow grave. While awaiting trial he escapes using the identification papers of a fellow inmate awaiting transfer to a forestry camp. He is recaptured and sentenced to 9 years at San Quentin.
1954 — South Ontario Black Angels gang is formed. The gang takes its name from a popular comic book of the time. Frank “Mosca” Castrejon is amoung the founders.
1955-57 — A.-Mexican Mafia forms at the Duel Vocational Institute at Tracey, California. Originally consists of 13 core members.
B.-Joe Morgan is released on parole after 9 years behind bars.
C.-The group’s legend begins attracting new members.
1956 — Morgan is returned to prison after a brazen machine gun robbery of a West Covina bank.
1957 — Authorities note an escalation in violent crimes committed by Los Angeles Hispanic gang members.
1958 — San Francisco gang member Michael ‘Hacha’ Ison is committed to California youth authority after he and his brother attack a barber with a baseball bat.
February 13, 1958 — Reuben Ramos (20) and Lorenzo Castro (18) kidnap and shoot George Rodriquez (13) and Gerald De Lao members of a rival gang. De Lao was killed in the attack.
May 13, 1958 — Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy Ned Lovretovich is stabbed in court after offering testimony in the murder robbery trial of Gregory H. Valenzuela and Augustin Acosta two gang members from East Los Angeles.
1958 — Mexican Mafia members murder guard at San Quentin
December 23, 1959 — 16 year old Rudy Cadena begins serving a prison sentence for second degree murder at the Chino Institute for men.
1960 — La Eme begins spreading throughout the California prison system..
1961 — A.-Michael ‘Killer Hachet’ Ison enters the California prison after a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
B.-Joe Morgan leads 11 inmates in a jail break from the L.A., county jail. He had been called as a witness in a trial involving the murder of another inmate
1962 – Ison acquires the nickname “Killer Hatchet” after murdering inmate Thomas Dever on behalf of the Mexican Mafia in San Quentin.
July 14, 1963 — La Eme narcotics chief Harry Gamboa Buckley, 43, Monterey Pak is arrested and charged with heading a heroin ring which sold $40,000 worth of pure heroin. In addition to Buckley, Mary Gloria Ramirez, 28, Alhambra, Virginia Rivas Garcia, 29, Charlotte O. Vasquez, 36 and Julian Molano all of East Los Angeles were also held.
1964 — Mexican Mafia begins induction ceremony (blood oath)
1967 — California Department of Corrections reports the Mexican mafia controls the yard at San Quentin and has active chapters at Soledad and Folsom prisons.
November 7, 1967 — San Quentin inmate Forrest W. Smith, 42, a convicted burglar from Los Angeles is killed in the prison hospital by convicted La eme hitman “Psycho” Leo Estrada Robles.
September 15 1968 — Hector Padilla a gang member from northern California is attacked after a confrontation with La Eme gang leader Robert “Robot” Salas [Big Hazard] over a pair of shoes stolen by La Eme associate Carlos “Pieface” Ortega. This is the third in a series of La Eme led attacks on Norteno associates and gang members [Phillip Neri and Sonny Pena were killed earlier.].
September 16 1968 — In retaliation for the murders of Phillip Neri and Sonny Pena and a near fatal attack on Hector Padilla, Nuestra Familia launches a reprisal attack on the Mexican Mafia at 2:30 pm. The final tally left 11 wounded and 1 mafia member dead.
September 16 1968 — In retaliation for the murders of Phillip Neri and Sonny Pena and a near fatal attack on Hector Padilla, Nuestra Familia launches a reprisal attack on the Mexican Mafia at 2:30 pm. The final tally left 11 wounded and mafia member Archie Gallego, 25, dead.
1969 — Rudy “Cheyenne” Cadena begins correspondence with members of the Latino political group the Brown Berets.
1970 — A.-Mexican Mafia and Black Guerilla family agree to a truce.
B.-Joe Moody prison gang investigator finds the body of one of his female informants murdered in Monterey Park, California. Pinned to her body was a note with consisting of one word La Eme.
1971 — A.-Rudy Cadena [Bakersfield gang member later claimed East L.A’s Primera Flats] issues orders to recently paroled La Eme members to take over federally funded drug programs operating in L.A. barrios. The first target is the National Institute of Mental Health’s Special Program for Alcohol Abuse (SPAN) which was headquartered in Pomona.
B.-Paroled La Eme member Eduardo Z. Aguirre is named executive director of League of United Citizens to help Addicts [LUCHA].
C.-Cadena and Black Guerilla Family founder George L. Jackson are targeted for their influence over large groups of prisoners. Cadena publicly calls for a reuniting of Latino inmates to fight the system. Within the gang it becomes common knowledge that Cadena hopes to unite the Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia creating a statewide criminal syndicate.
August 21, 1971 — Jackson is murdered at San Quentin leaving, Cadena the states most outspoken prison reformist from behind bars..
Late 1971 — A.-Cadena is paroled to Los Angeles.
B.-Killer Hatchet Mike Ison is convicted of second degree murder for stabbing a fellow inmate 51 times in the prison chapel at Folsom.
January 21, 1972 — Carlos N. Rodriquez is killed by a shotgun blast to the face fired from point blank range in Pomona.
February 15, 1972 — George “Poyo” Felix is stabbed more than 30 times by Eme hitmen in Los Angeles.
February 17, 1972 — Ellen Delia is shot three times in the head and dumped on the way to Sacramento where she was scheduled to discuss the La eme’s infiltration of a state funded program.
March 16, 1972 — La Eme drop out Raymond Ochoa, 29, shot is found bound and tied to a chair in his Commerce apartment. He’d been shot to death a few feet from his wife and teenage son.
April 3, 1972 — Opening remarks are giving in the murder trial of Mexican Mafia member Gilbert Sanchez, 30, of Commerce. Sanchez was accused of killing La Eme drop out Raymond Ochoa, 29. Ochoa was shot in his living room near his 13 year old son who lay bound nearby.
April 21, 1972 — Aryan Brotherhood members Fred S. Mendrin and Donald C. Hale murders Nuestra Familia member Fred Charles Castillo in Palm Hall at Chino Institute for men. The hit is ordered by Mexican Mafia leader Joe Morgan. The murder reportedly seals a pact between the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Mafia.
October 13, 1972 — Gilbert “Shotgun” Sanchez is acquitted of murdering Raymond Ochoa in his Commerce city apartment on orders from Joe Morgan. Sanchez was already serving a combined 150 year sentence for 15 counts of armed robbery.
October 19, 1972 — Nuestra Family member Leonard Arias brutally executed in California state prison in Tehachapi by La Eme
October 31, 1972 — Rudy Cadena is returned to Chino Institute for men as a parole violator.
December 12, 1972 — Nuestra Familia members Santos and Gilbert Arranda are stabbed in the inmate Reception and Guidance center at Chino Institute for men.
December 18, 1972 — Rudy Cadena is stabbed 70 times in Palm Hall at Chino Institute for men by members of La Nuestra Familia. Gilbert Sandoval and Steven Oropeza are injured in the attack as well.
1973 — A.-36 inmate murders occurred in behind bars in 1972, 30 of which are attributed to the Mexican Mafia.
B.-[LUCHA] Director Eduardo Aguirre flees to Mexico with $146,000 of the groups funds after a federal audit finds $300,000 in federal funds missing from the groups coffers causing the collapse of the program.
C.-Community concern ‘an L.A., based community self help organization,’ receives $ 1million in federal funds. Ex-convict Rafael ‘Chispas’ Sandoval a man with ties to Italian organized criminals including Jimmy Coppola is the director. Sandoval also expanded LA Eme’s political ties donating several hundred thousand dollars to Richard Alatorre’s campaign for the California assembly.
May 3, 1973 — Gilbert Pedro Sanchez, 31 year old La eme member is acquitted in Los Angeles Superior Court on charges relating to the murder of Raymond Ochoain Commerce.
November 11, 1973 — Pat Duran a convicted car thief from San Bernardino is stabbed in an exercise yard used by inmates held under protective custody at San Quentin. Duran had expressed concern for his safety after a run in with an eme member.
November 22, 1973 — Two San Quentin inmates are stabbed in separate incidents. Robert Tavluian, 28, from Los Angeles is stabbed in San Quentin’s main yard at noon. Tavluian suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest but survived the attack. Thomas Gregory, 34, an inmate from San Francisco died of stab wounds he received in the chow hall breakfast line.
June 1975 — Morgan secures a contract with organized crime figures which provides La Eme with a half dozen kilos of pure Mexican heroin in exchange for hits on the streets of Los Angeles. The operation “which runs from Juarez through Tiajuna into Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento,” nets the Mexican Mafia a profit of $60,000 per week wholesale uncut.
October 1975 — Mexican Mafia carries out triple homicide of three Nuestra Familia members in California state prison
1976 — A.-Michael Delia a paroled Eme member sets up Project Get Going. The stated aim of the program is to assist convicts re-adjust to to living in society. Delia’s program is launched by $228,000 worth of government aide.
B.-Joe Morgan is released on parole. He is quickly indicted on federal narcotics charges and flees to Utah.
January 15, 1977 — Robert Lewis special assistant to Senator Alex P. Garcia (D-Los Angeles) is gunned down by La Eme members. Lewis was tied in with Michael Delia’s Project Get Going.
January 16, 1977 — Ysidro Trujillo a resident of Project Get Goings halfway house is murdered in Los Angeles by Eddie “The Sailor” Gonzales and Michael Delia.
February 1, 1977 — La Eme member Gibert Roybal is shot to death in his Fresno home by Alfred “Alfie” Sosa, Daniel “Choco” Montellano and Manuel Torres after announcing his plans to defect from the gang. The hit was ordered by Robert “Robot” Salas.
February 11, 1977 — Bruno Chavez an Eme associate is stabbed to death in Glassell Park by Alfred “Alfie” Sosa and Raymond “Huero shy” Shyrock.
February 15, 1977 — George “Poyo” Felix is killed in his Rosemead home by Daniel “Choco” Montellano.
February 17, 1977 — Michael Delia’s wife Ellen is shot to death in Sacramento by Alfred “Alfie” Sosa and Eddie “The Sailor” Gonzales both known LA Eme hitmen. Delia’s murder was ordered by her husband Michael who feared she would expose the illegal affairs of Project Get Going.
February 20, 1977 — La Eme godfather Robert “Robot” Salas, Alfred “Alfie” Sosa and Armando Varela are arrested in Monterey Park and charged with possession of aconcealed weapon. Sosa and Salas are released on bail but Varela remains in custody and begins cooperating in the investigation of the murder of Ellen Delia resulting in the re-arrest and filing of murder charges against Salas for the murders of Gilbert Roybal and Delia. Eddie “The Sailor” Gonzales has also provided information in 9 La Eme murders.
March 26, 1977 — Alfred “Alfie” Sosa is arrested and charged with the murders of Ellen Delia and Gilbert Roybal. Sosa was apprehended in Tiajuna, Mexico
April 22, 1977 — Alfred “Alfie” Sosa, 33, Michael Anthony Delia, Albert Valles, 33, of Lawndale and Daniel “Choco” Montellano and Raymond “Huero Shy” Shyrock, 25, both ofLos Angeles are all indicted by the Los Angeles grad jury for the murders of RobertMark Lewis, 51, of El Monte and Ysidro Trujillo, an alleged member of La Eme. Sosa and Shyrock were also indicted in the murder of Bruno Chavez, 29, in Glassell Park. Valles and Montellano were charged in the deaths of eme member Gilbert Roybal in Fresno and George “Poyo” Felix in Rosemead. Eme member Edward “Sailor Boy” Conzales enter a plea of innocent to charges of heroin possession and being an ex-convict in possession of a firearms
July, 1977 — Joe Morgan is captured in Utah, a charge of trafficking firearms is added to the narcotics and fugitive warrants he was facing.
August 26, 1977 — Peter Savas, 24, from Orange County F-Troop is shot and killed by tower guardsafter he ignores a warning shot and continues to stab inmate James Williams, 31, of San Diego in an incident linked to a string of racially charged incidents. Savas was aided in the attack by Ronald Hendricks, 25, aan inmate with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood.
October 1977 — Peter (Fury) Ojeda is assigned lordship over Orange County
May 15, 1978 — Joe Morgan is sentenced to 5 years in state prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and transporting a rifle across state lines. 2 hours later in federal court he is sentenced to serve 2 to 10 years in federal prison for possession of heroin. His conviction was based on the testimony of Ramon “Mundo” Mendoza, Morgan is convicted ofsecond degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an La Eme member who fell out of favor.
October 1978 — Daniel Montellano released from jail after posting $100,000 in the Los Angeles murder cases and another $150,000 in the Fresno case.
November 11, 1978 — Inmate Thomas Trejo is stabbed to death at the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc, California. An autopsy reveals Trejo suffered 45 stab wounds. La Eme kingpin Adolpho “Champ” Reynoso, Pedro Flores and inmate Gouveia are later sentenced to serve life plus 99 years in federal prison.
November 13, 1978 –Investigation launched into the relationship of Judge Lenore Schreiber and Daniel Montellano and Robert Salas after it is learned she has put money on the books for both men at the county jail. Montellano had also lent the judge his car on at leastone ocassion.
May 30,1979 — Daniel “Choco” Montellano is charged with the murder of 17 year old Jerry Granillo outside of Montellano’s Visalia apartment.
June 30,1982 — Tito Marines Jr., best friend of Reuben T. Hernandez is found dead in southeast Ontario. Marines murder was believed to have been a paid hit carried out on behalf of Mary Lou Davilla Salazar a known drug dealer.
October 14,1984 — Alfred Arthur Sandoval [Arizona Maravilla] shoots and kills Gilbert Martinez and Anthony Aceves [Mariana Maravilla] a third victm “Manuel Torres survives the attack.
October 31,1984 — Ray and Marlene Wells are shot execution style in their home in Belvedere Park. Alfred Arthur Sandoval [Arizona Maravilla] is charged in these murders.
June 22,1987 — Mary Lou Davilla Salazar, Lourdes Flores and Francisco Delgado Ortiz are found slain in a home on Sunkist Street in Ontario.
June 25,1987 — Reuben “Tupi” Hernandez high ranking La Eme member is arrested in connection with the Ontario murders.
July 19,1988 — Reuben Tommy “Tupi” Hernandez is sentenced to 3 consecutive life terms plus 16 years in state prison for the murders of Salazar, Flores and Ortiz.
August 17,1990 — Joe “Colorado Red” Ariaz executes Daniel Arriaga and Salvador Barrasa on the order of Robert “Robot” Salas in Fontana. Arriaga owed $30,000 in taxes to the Mexican Mafia.
April 27, 1991 — Mexican Mafia members residing in California state prison at Oxford kill white supremacist gang leader Danny Sammons
June 12,1991 — Joe “Colorado Red” Ariaz convicted of one count of first degree murder in the death of Daniel Arriaga the jury failed to reach a verdict on the charge relating to the death of Salvador Barrasa.
July 16,1991 — La Eme soldier Salvador “Mon” Buenrostro is stabbed 26 times in an interview room at the Los Angeles county jail by Benjamin “Topo” Peters and Rene “Boxer” Enriquez. Buenrostro was attacked for causing dissension within the group “he made negative comments about La Eme Godfather Joe Morgan.”
August 8,1991 — Joe “Colorado Red” Ariaz sentenced to serve 29 years to life in state prison.
1991 — La Eme founder Luis (Huero Buff) Flores dies of heroin overdose
1992 — Deputy Edward Roman is stabbed in the Los Angeles county jail by a suspected La Eme member armed with the sharpened end of a broom handle. Deputies find a 4- inch metal shank hidden in the rectum of La Eme associate Eulalio Martinez. Martinezis later killed for failing to carry out attacks against deputies at the county jail.
March 15, 1992 — American Me a film about Mexican Mafia icons Joe Morgan and Rudy Cadena is released starring and directed by Edward James Olmos. The film offends Morganand a contract is issued to eliminate Olmos and Eme members who served asadvisors on the project.
March 25, 1992 — Charles “Charlie Brown” Manriquez a 53 year old La Eme veteran is gunned down while walking through Ramona Gardens. Manriquez had served as an advisor to Olmos during the filming of American Me and authorities recovered an American Me business card from one of his pockets.
May 13, 1992 — Ana Lizarraga a Ramona Gardens gang counselor and consultant on the film American Me is gunned down by Jose “Joker” Gilbert Gonzales [Big Hazard], a 29 year old parolee “out less than a month,” was apprehended fleeing the scene of the crime.
February 6 1993 — Jose Uribe, set to be a govt. witness, is stabbed 37 times in his cell in the high powered wing of the Los Angeles county jail. Jorge Lopez and Joaquin Alvarado committed the murder to curry favor with the Mexican mafia who had labeled Uribe an informant.
March 12, 1993 — LA Eme member Regino “The Bull” Deharo, south Ontario gang banger and recent parolee is captured after a 50 mile televised chase which includes a car jacking and several shots fired from the carjacked vehicle. The event started when Deharo, Robert Garcia and Jesus Ochoa bungled a robbery at a home in Pomona. During the televised chase Deharo wounded officer Roger Matthews.
Winter 1993 — Mexican mafia shot caller David “Smiley” Gallardo [Big Hazard] increases the amount of tax the members of the Hazard crew are required to pay as punishment for needlessly harassing customers. His demand is met with resistance from several Hazard gang members particularly Ricardo “Joker” Gonzalez and Humberto “Capone” Madrigal.
October 26, 1993 — La Eme godfather Joseph “Pegleg” Morgan is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He is transferred from Pelican to the prison ward at Corcoran.
November 9, 1993 — Joe “Pegleg” Morgan dies of liver cancer at the age of 64. Morgan had spent his last days in the prison hospital ward at Corcoran State prison. Benjamin “Topo” Peters replaces Morgan as Eme godfather, Peters is challenged for control of the group by Reuben “Tupi” Hernandez.
December 3, 1993 — Ricardo “Rascal” Gonzalez found stabbed to death in the Ramona Gardens housing project next to Smokey’s wall.
January 1994 — Humberto “Capone” Madrigal is severely wounded near the Ramona Gardens housing project. Madrigal initially identifies Smilon Gallardo as his assailant but later retracts his statement.
February 1994 — Gallardo and associate Juan “China Boy” Arias engage in a gun battle with Ricardo “Richie” and Eduardo “Lalo” Soriano. Both Soriano brothers were severely wounded and Arias suffered a wound to his hand.
March 1994 — Ernest “Chuco” Castro [Vario Nuevo Estrada] a feared La Eme assassin begins cooperating with authorities leading to the arrest of 21 Eme members later in the year.
April 1995 — A.-La Eme Godfather Benjamin “Topo” Peters ends the conflict between Gallardo and Big Hazard arranging a peace agreement which led to Gallardo’s removal of the Green light on Big Hazard in appreciation for Joker Gonzalez’s murder of Anna Lizarraga. Rascal Gonzalez was Joker’s brother.
B.-Assisted by Ernest “Chuco” Castro’s cooperation, 12 La Eme members are arrested at the La Mirada Holiday Inn.
April 22, 1995 — La Eme defector Anthony Moreno and 4 other members of his family are killed by Richard Valdez, Jose Ortiz, Daniel Logan and Jimmy Palma on the order of Raymond “Huero Shy” Shyrock and Luis “Big Homie” Maciel.
May 1, 1995 — 22 members and associates of the Mexican Mafia are indicted on RICO charges Benjamin “Topo” Peters [El Hoyo Soto], Reuben “Tupi” Hernandez [Ontario Black Angeles], Raymond “Huero Shy” Shyrock [El Hoyo Soto], Michael “Musclehead” Salinas [Orange County], David “Smilon” Gallardo [Big Hazard], Sammy “Negro” Villalba, Richard “Ricky” Guitierez, Juan “China Boy” Arias, Alex “Pee Wee” Aguirre [Avenues gang], Antonio “Tonito” Rodriquez, Ronald Ray “Champ” Mendez [Orange County], Randy “Cowboy” Therrien [Bassett], Daniel “Black Dan” Barela, Jesse “Pelon” Moreno, Victor “Victorio” Murillo [Salinas], Joe “Shakey” Hernandez, Reuben “Night Owl” Castro [18th Street], & George Bustamante [associate].
June 6, 1995 — Benjamin “Topo” Peters and Reuben “Tupi” Hernandez plead not guilty in the indictment which is known as the Mexican Mafia case.
September 21, 1995 — Vincent Castro Caldera, a La Eme associate [answering to Alex “Pee Wee” Aguirre] and leader of the Avenue’s gang is arrested in the murder of 3 year Stephanie Kuhen. Her family had taken a wrong turn down a Los Angeles street and was caught in a barrage of gang gunfire. Avenue’s gang members Anthony Rodriquez, Manuel Rosales and Hugo Gomez are also charged in the case.
October 20, 1995 — San Bernardino La Eme representative Phillip “Chano” Chavez [MVR] his cousin Patricio Rocha and Margie Martinez are shot to death by Ernie “Leche” Carillo [Mt. Vernon counts]in retaliation for Chano’s ordering the death of his nephew Michael Carillo, who had failed to deliver on a promise he had while incarcerated.
November 24, 1995 — Ernie Joe “Leche” Carillo Sr., is murdered in retaliation for the slaying of La Eme member Phillip “Chano” Chavez and two of his relatives the previous month.
December 27, 1995 — Ignacio “Toby” and David Villa and Cathy Estrada “Ignacio’s wife,” for the murders of Armando Castillo and Gilbert Hernandez. Their bodies were found May 9 in an alley in the 600 block of State street in Upland, California.
November 20, 1996 — Of the original 22 indicted in the May case, 13 go to trial.
December 22, 1996 — Former La Eme hitman Johnny Torres enters testimony regarding the rules and regulations imposed on its members by the Mexican mafia.
March 23, 1997 — Ennis Cosby is found dead beside his car near the Los Angeles freeway. Mikhael Markhasev a self described Mexican mafia member is arrested.
March 23, 1997 — Chief prosecution witness Ernest “Chuco” Castro [Vario Nuevo Estrada] wraps up his testimony in the La Eme trial.
April 28, 1997 — Defense attorney’s rebut the governments case calling the Mexican Mafia disorganized crime.
May 1997 — Salvador Buenrostro appears as a defense witness in the Mexican mafia trial. Buenrostro an inmate at Pelican Bay testifies that his stabbing at the Los Angeles county jail by Topo Peters and Boxer Enriquez steamed from a personal dispute not gang politics.
May 29, 1997 — Victor “Victorio Uno” Murillo is acquitted of all charges in the Mexican Mafia case, while Benjamin “Topo” Peters, Reuben “Tupi” Hernandez, Alex “Pee Wee” Aguirre, “Shakey Joe” Hernandez, Daniel “Black Dan” Barela, Raymond “Huero Shy” Shyrock, David “Smilon” Gallardo, Juan “China Boy” Arias, Reuben “Night Owl” Castro, Randy “Cowboy” Therrien, Raymond “Champ” Mendez and Jesse “Pelon” Moreno are all convicted.
June 3, 1997 — Hugo Gomez, Manuel Rosales and Anthony Rodriquez are convicted of murdering 3 year old Stephanie Kuhen.
June 11, 1997 — Richard Anthony Valdez and Jimmy Palma are sentenced to death for the murder of Anthony and Maria Moreno. Their co-defendants got life.
July 3, 1997 — Marcos Antonio Luna enters a guilty plea in the death of Stephanie Kuhen.
July 12, 1997 — Placentia resident Paul Fix is shot to death during a robbery by Eme member Robert “Gypsy” Cervantes.
August 2, 1997 — Hugo David Gomez, Anthony Gabriel Rodriquez and Manuel Rosales Jr., are sentenced to 54 years and 8 months to life in prison for the Kuhen death.
August 29, 1997 — Teenage Avenues gang member Augustin Lizama is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the death of Stephanie Kuhen.
September 2, 1997 — David “Smiley” Gallardo and Randy ” Cowboy” Therrien are sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Gallardo received and additional 300 months in addition to the life sentence.
September 3, 1997 — Benjamin “Topo” Peters, Raymond “Huero Shy” Shyrock, Reuben “Night Owl” Castro are sentenced to life in prison without parole. Juan “China Boy” Arias (27) is sentenced to 32 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew stated he was giving Arias a break due to his youth. Judge Lew later sentenced Reuben “Tupi” Hernandez to his fourth life term. Drawing the sentence were Daniel “Black Dan” Barela and Jesse “Pelon” Moreno. “Shakey” Joe Hernandez received a 32 year federal term.
September 5, 1997 — Judge Lew sentences Raymond “Champ” Mendez and Alex “Pee Wee” Aguirre to life sentences.
September 12, 1997 — A San Diego drug ring run by incarcerated Mexican Mafia Frank “Chino” Macias Madriaga is broken up National City police.
September 27, 1997 — La Eme associate Reuben Gomez is charged with robbery and six counts of murder committed within five months of his release from Pelican Bay State prison. Gomez had been in custody since his capture on July 2 after a failed home invasion robbery. All of the murders were committed against drug dealers who had balked or fallen behind in their tax payments to the Mexican mafia. Arturo “Shady” Grajeda an accomplice in two of the murders remained at large.
October 1997 — Jimmy “Character” Palma is stabbed to death on Death Row by fellow inmates.
January 7, 1998 — Luis “Pelon” Maciel is sentenced to death for ordering the murder of Anthony “Ditto” Moreno and 4 other members of his family.
April 4, 1998 — Victor “Victorio Uno” Murillo is shot dead in a parking lot in Visalia by La Eme member Charles “Chacho” Woody.
May 1, 1998 — Seven year old Mindy Flores is gunned down in her living room as shots intended for her sisters boyfriend Armando Ibarra go astray. Ibarra was under suspicion of providing information against an incarcerated La Eme member that is suspected of green lighting his death.
November 19, 1998 — Richard Serrano, Jose Gutierrez and Enrique Delgadillo were shot to death on the order of Mariano “Chuy” Martinez in a Montebello autoshop.
January 7, 1999 — Michael Hutto is shot as he stood in the doorway of a home in Colton. Edward and Anthony Hernandez [Northside Colton] are named as the prime suspects. Hutto was green lighted by the Mexican Mafia after shortchanging them in a drug deal. Northside Colton answers to La Eme shotcaller Mark “Turtle” Quiroz.
January 10, 1999 — Arthur Daniel Flores [Northside Colton]and Joseph Caldera [Northside Colton] are found shot to death within two blocks of one another on Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino. Brothers Edward and Anthony Hernandez are named as the prime suspects. Arthur Flores was killed hours after he was taken into custody for questioning in the shooting of Hutto.
January 19, 1999 — Edward and Anthony Hernandez are sentenced to 3 consecutive life sentences in state prison for three murders.
February 2, 1999 — More than a dozen members of the Mexican mafia are arrested in a predawn sweep. The highest ranking of those arrested were Frank “Sapo” Fernandez [Palmdale], Jesse “Shady” Detevis [South Gate], Juan “Topo” Garcia, Marcel “Psycho” Arevalo, Daniel “Sporty” Bravo [all of Los Angeles] David Contreras Gonzalez [Reseda] and James “Drak” Maxon [Los Angeles] and Jesus “Dreamer” Ramirez [Los Angeles] eluded arrest in the raid.
July 1, 1999 — United States Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas announces a third federal indictment aimed at the Mexican Mafia. Javier Duarte, Gerardo “Blanco” Jacobo, Adrian Nieto, Sally Peters [wife of Eme godfather Benjamin Peters], Suzanne Schoenberg [wife of Eme member James “Smokey” Sanchez], Crispin “Conejo” Alvidrez, Fernando “Cuate” Alvidrez, Mario “Whisper” Castillo, Rolando “Rolo” Ontiveros, Dominick “Solo” Gonzalez, Margaret Farrell, Veronica Rodriquez, Guadalupe Juarez, Carlos “Cheeks” Aguilar, Reuben “Toker” Rojas and Joe “Inch” Annet are all named in this round.
September 1, 1999 — Isaac Aguirre and Vincente Meza and Jesse “Jess Dog aka Worm” Chavez [Sur Crazy Ones] are arrested for the murder of Mindy Flores and the attempted murder of Armando Ibarra. .
November 19, 1999 — Ricardo Cruz “described as an Eme wannabe,” is sentenced to 28 years to life for the murder of Rudy Saenz in Coachella. .
February 21, 2000 — The Mexican mafia organizes a riot in Pelican Bay which pits it’s southern allies against black inmates.
April 13, 2000 — Frank “Chino” Madriaga is convicted of drug and extortion charges.
July 9, 2000 — Seventh Street gang leader Johnny Agudo and his brother Gilbert are among 4 homicide victims gunned down by fellow Mexican mafia associates. The murders were reportedly ordered by Inland Empire La Eme representative Salvador Orozco Hernandez in retaliation for Agudo reportedly telling police about Hernandez’s drug dealing activities. The murders came three days after Agudo had been released from prison. Other sources claim Agudo arrived with orders to takeover the Inland Empire drug trade from the Hernandez brothers who themselves had fallen under the suspicion of imprisoned prison gang leaders for dealing with law enforcement and pocketing a portion of the tax money to be sent up the ladder.
July 17, 2000 — Frank Macias Madriaga “Chino” is sentenced to 29 years and four months.
September 8, 2000 — In SAN BERNARDINO, 11 members and associates of the Mexican mafia are arrested in the Inland Empire. Antonio Hernandez, Santos Hernandez, Adolph Moraga, Sadie Ramirez, Judy Alvarado, Paul Flores, Monica Rodriquez, Alfredo Valdez, Raul Ramirez, Alfonzo Aguila and Danny Hanks are charged with operating a drug ring with connections to a Mexican cartel.
October 6, 2000 — Alfred Arthur Sandoval the highest ranking Eme member on Death Row in California has his death sentence for the murder of Marlene Wells overturned by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
October 24, 2000 — Frank “Sapo” Fernandez, Jimmy “Drak” Sanchez, Robert Cervantes, Dominick “Solo” Gonzalez, Roy “Spider” Gavaldon, Sally Peters, Susanne Schoenberg, Juan “Topo” are convicted of racketeering. Adrian Nieto was acquitted of three counts of concpiracy to commit murder and one count of racketeering. Mariano “Chuy” Martinez Varrio Nuevo Estrada was tried separately as he faced a possible death sentence for his involvement in the crimes detailed in the indictment.
November 26, 2000 — The racketeering trial of Mariano “Chuy” Martinez begins in Los Angeles federal court.
January 6, 2001 — Robert “Gypsy” Cervantes and David Gonzales Contreras are sentenced to life in federal prison without parole for murder and racketeering.
January 7, 2001 – Robert “Gypsy” Cervantes [Arta 13]is ordered moved from state prison to a federal facility to break his influence in the Mexican Mafia.
February 2001 — Benjamin “Topo” Peters dies of cancer at the age of 60. Once viewed as the successor to Joe Morgan as the La Eme godfather, Peters had warned CDC staff that he was a target for assault by La Eme members due to his illness and inability to function as an active member.
February 8, 2001 — Petra Celia Gonzales [wife of Eme leader Fred “Sapo” Gonzales and mother of Dominique “Nick” Gonzales convicted Eme associate] arrested as the head of a mail fraud ring from her Palmdale home.
February 15, 2001 — Mariano “Chuy” Martinez is convcited of racketeering charges after 26 days of deliberation by the jury.
March 2001 — Michael “Hatchet” Ison is beaten to death outside a pool hall near San Francisco’s skid row.
March 29, 2001 — A.-Anthony Angulo and Ricky Camacho are convicted of killing Genaro Martinez. Martinez “the brother of a high ranking La Eme member Eulalio “Lalo” Martinez,” was shot in the back on April 25, 2000.
B.-First degree murder charges were filed against Jose Luis “Clever” Sanchez an Eme member from Los Angeles for his role in planning a riot at Pelican Bay which pitted southern Latino inmates against black prisoners. Miguel “Sharky” Sanchez “also from Los Angeles,” was killed when a correctional officer opened fire on the rioting inmates on
February 23, 2001. — Almost 30 inmates were injured in the riot three of which suffered gunshot wounds. The riot was ordered by Eme legend Alfred “Alfie” Sosa and Eulalio “Lalo” Martinez.
April 30, 2001 — Catarino “Termite” Gonzalez Jr., [18th Street] goes on trial for the murder of LAPD officer Filbert Cuesta on August 9, 1998.
November 26, 2001 — John “Stranger” Turscak [Rockwoood gang] former street general turned FBI informant is sentenced to 30 years in prison for crimes committed while he was an FBI informant.
November 28, 2001 — Eme associated gang members ambush three L.A. county sheriff’s deputies in the Inmate Reception Center downtown Los Angeles.
December 10, 2001 — Inmate Antonio Haro slashes the neck of deputy Chris Varela at the inmate reception center in Los Angeles. The attack was ordered by the Mexican mafia in response to a crack down by jail officials who became suspicious of a large number of high ranking Eme leaders called as character witnesses in a court case in Los Angeles.
March 21, 2002 — Racketeering trial of Frank “Pancho Villa” Martinez mexican mafia member and shotcaller for the Columbia lil’ Psychos clique of the 18th street gang begins.
March 22, 2002 — Rene “Boxer” Enriquez (Arta) agrees to debrief effectively ending his reign as one of La Eme’s most feared and respected leaders.
June 9, 2002 — Mariano “Chuy” Martinez is sentenced to life without parole plus 130 years in federal prison for his role in directing the Mexican mafia’s activity in Los Angeles on behalf of godfather Benjamin “Topo” Peters.
December 13, 2002 — Anthony ‘Coco’ Zaragoza 18th street Cls shotcaller is sentenced to life in federal prison.
January 2, 2003 — Jesus “Gizmo” Rochin former #3 man in Chuy Martinez’s crew is sentenced to 12 years in prison for racketeering, attempted murder, assault and narcotics conspiracy. Rochin became a prosecution witness to avoid a life term.
February 4, 2003 — Francisco ‘Puppet’ Martinez is sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years after being convicted of running the Columbia lil Psychos clique a branch of the 18th street gang that runs McArthur Park in Los Angeles.
February 19, 2003 — Max “Mono” Torvisco is sentenced to 10 years in federal prison as part of a plea agreement in the Chuy Martinez case. Torvisco will have to serve 85% of his time before becoming parole eligible.
January 28, 2004 — Sergio Pulido Perez, 47 Leonard Parmer, 19 Denise Ortega, 27 Pamela Thompson, 39 Jaime Lopez Jr., 27 Julio Contreras, 24 Arthur Genaro Torres, 46 and Christina Montano, 24 enter not guilty pleas in connection with the San Diego Marquez Mexican mafia case.
June 08, 2004 — Ricardo “Rock” Marquez 36, of La Mesa pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 33,000 tablets of ecstasy drug and possessing an unregistered automatic rifle. Authorities charged Marquez “the brother of imprisoned La Eme liaison Alberto “Bat” Maruez,” with participating in a ring with smuggled ecstasy from the Netherlands through Mexico into the United States in conjunction with the Arrellano Felix drug cartel.
August 20, 2004 — Avenues gang members Gilbert Saldana, Merced Cambrero, Alexjandro Martinez and Fernando Cazares are charged with federal weapons and civil rights violations in the death of Kenneth “Kurry” Wilson.
December 20, 2004 — An investigation looking into the financial dealings of the Mexican Mafia is launched after San Diego La Eme leader Frank Macias “Chino” Madriaga amasses $40,000 in his inmate account a portion of which he shared with La Eme leaders at Pelican Bay.
Oct. 29, 2007 — Riverside, Ca. The Mexican Mafia’s #2 man in the Coachella Valley, Tony Gonzalez-Rodriguez, appeared on drug-trafficking charges in a Riverside courtroom.
June 05, 2008 — Imprisoned Mexican mafia leader Jose Alberto, “Bat” Marquez, Julia Morones, Maria “Kika” Madriaga, Brian Mark “Dusty” Smith, Juan Manuel “Manny” Velarde, Marco Corrado, Ruben Santos, Rolando “Rolo” Montemayor and Jorge Lopez-Herrera aka Pedro Bombas are indicted in federal court. The indictment charges that the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute Methamphetamine. Mari “Scorpion” Bejar was also charged with aiding and abetting the other defendants in the commission of their crimes. Authorities charged Marquez with orchestrating a methamphetamine deal 3 months after authorities extradited him from a Mexico city maximum security prison and lodged him in an federal facility near San Diego. All the defendants used their ties and influence over San Diego street gangs “South Side Mob, Logan Heights Red Steps, Shelltown and Del Sol,” to further their criminal caper.
August 7, 2008 — Mexican Mafia Ruben “Night Owl” Castro accused of running Los Angeles street gangs from behind bars asked to withdraw his guilty plea to federal charges. Ruben Castro told a Los Angeles federal judge that he “made a big mistake” when he entered the guilty pleas to racketeering and conspiracy to sell cocaine. The 48-year-old was set to be sentenced and could have received 27 years in prison. Prosecutors charged that Castro ran two branches of a drug dealing Los Angeles street gang from behind bars while serving a life sentence in Colorado for a 1997 racketeering conviction.
August 12, 2008 — A jury ordered the death penalty for two La Eme members Luis “Maldito” Mendoza and Lorenzo Ariasin in the Dead Presidents case. Both were part of the 7th Street Locos. The case was viewed as an example of how Mexican Mafia influence has forced some Latino street gangs to turn on their own members.
August 15, 2008 — Mexican Mafia member Juvenal Vega-Soto, 52, was sentenced Thursday to a life prison term for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Vega-Soto was one of 35 people convicted in the conspiracy, which involved two murders, extortion, robberies and narcotics trafficking. Seven other defendants were sentenced to life terms in March. Vega-Soto was convicted by a jury in April after being extradited from Mexico
August 28, 2008 — Mexican Mafia leaders Salvador Orozco Hernandez, 43, and his brother Alfred Hernandez is sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy case. Both pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder with a gang enhancement. Alfred Hernandez will serve 2 years of a possible six year term for his role in the La Eme case tried in San Bernardino.
September 09, 2008 — San Bernardino Seventh Street gang leaders Luis Mendoza and Lorenzo Arias receive the death penalty for the murders of 4 fellow gang members in July 2004. The murders were committed on the order of Inland Empire shotcaller Salvador Orozco Hernandez.
September 11, 2008 — La Eme members Ricardo Polanco 26, and Arthur Garcia 37, received sentences of 50 and 55 years to life for the murder of Frankie “Frankie B” Buelna in 2005. Buelna was green lighted by longtime Eme enforcer Darryl Castrejon for collecting taxes in his area without authorization. Castrejon is scheduled to appear in court September 24 in Pomona.
September 17, 2008 — Janette V. Amaya 51, a tax collector for Inland Empire shotcaller Salvador Orozco Hernandez receives a six year prison term after pleading no contest to a charge of transporting heroin for sale. Amaya also pled no contest to charges of violating probation in cases involving real-estate fraud and drug transportation. Amaya was convicted of the special circumstance of being a gang member and was alledged to have “recruited females to run guns and drugs and do other business for the Mexican Mafia.
September 24, 2008 — Leonard Epps, 37, victim of a plot initiated by San Manuel tribe members Stacy Nunez-Barajas, 35, and Erik Barajas 25, “confirmed members of the 7th street gang,” filed a $50 million dollar law suit alleging conspiracy to commit murder, negligence and intentional infliction of mental distress. Mexican mafia leaders Salvador Hernandez, 43, and Alfred Hernandez, 39 and La eme associates Jennifer Murphy 27,and Jesus Leyva, 34 were named as co-defendants.
October 2, 2008 — Albert Angel “Spanky” Amaya, 40 a reputed tax collector for Emero Salvador Hernandez is sentenced to serve a mandatory 25 years to life sentence under the three strikes law. Amaya was convicted of extortion and carjacking resulting from a 2006 incident involving Javier Joaquin Luique, 33 a suspect in a 2006 double homicide. Luque received 32 years on the carjacking charge and faces the death penalty in the separate homicide case.
November 5, 2008 — Stacy Cheyenne Nunez-Barajas, 26, was sentenced to one year electronic monitoring and her brother Eric Barajas, 36, received six months electronic monitoring for their roles in a series of crimes involving the Mexican Mafia and its role in the Southern California methamphetamine trade. Stacy Nunez-Brarajas faced a possible 27 years in prison for her role in the conspiracy.
November 18, 2008 — Ruben “Nite Owl” Castro, 48, was sentenced to an additional 27 years and 3 months in federal prison after admitting to running a criminal enterprise from his maximum security cell in Florence, Colorado. Castro aveterano from 18th street, used his influence to enforce tax payments on drug, fruit and ice cream sales as well as chess players at tables in McArthur Park. Castro is already serving three life sentences after a 1997 conviction on racketeering and conspiracy.
December 8, 2008 — Nine leaders of the 18th Street gang are named in a suit filed by Los Angeles city attorney Rock Delgadillo demanding civil damages on behalf of residents of two Los Angeles neighborhoods. According to the suit, proceeds from the suit “if successful,” would be returned to the neighborhoods in question: The leaders named in the suit are Sergio “Tricky” Pantoja, Frank “Puppet” Martinez, Araceli “Traviesa” Bravo, Michael “Mousie” Pineda, Jose Juan “Wicked” Alvarez, Noe “Lil Duster” Chavez, Efrain “Dandy Boy” Ruiz Torres, Jose “Toro” Morales Perez and Ruben “Nite Owl” Castro. Per police informants, Nite Owl Castro, 46, is a leading figure in the Mexican Mafia, controlling two of the cliques associated with the 18th Street gang — the Shatto Park Locos and the Hoover Locos. Castro was recently sentenced on charges of having run those gang cliques from the federal maximum-security prison in Florence Colorado, where he is serving multiple life terms. Hewas sentenced November 18 to serve an additional 27 years and three months for racketeering. Frank “Puppet” Martinez is another La Eme carnal, is alleged to have brought as much as$40,000 a month from criminal activity. Authorities confiscated stash in excess of $440,000 from the home of one of Martinez’s relatives which was collected in connection with18th street gang criminal dealings
January 12, 2009 — Ten Mexican Mafia members from Florencia 13 are convicted on multiple counts of drug and weapons charges. The case featured several news accounts of Florencia 13 gang members targeting blacks in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood on the order of Arturo “AC” Castellanos. According to prosecutors, Florencia members began an ethnic cleansing process after receiving the order from Castellanos in 2004. The race based order is just one of many which filtered from the California prison system in the aftermath of the 1992gang truce and L.A., riots.
January 16, 2009 — Raul Leon, one of the most highly regarded members of the Mexican Mafia from the San Diego area was sentenced in federal court to life without parole by U.S. District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw. Already serving a life sentence for murder, Leon pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges in connection with a 2006 federal indictment charging 36 members of La Eme with various crimes. Part of Leon’s plea agreement includes an admission from Leon that he took part in the 2002 murder of Jabila Barragan at High Desert State Prison in Susanville. He also admitted being a member of the Mexican Mafia and conspiring to distribute drugs and launder money from Pelican Bay State Prison.
January 17, 2009 — Julio Ponce Felix Jr., 35, was sentenced to 85 years to life for his role in the murder of Frankie Buelna. Police interrupted the plot the plot in 2005. Buelna was killed in an unrelated shooting a year later over unauthorized criminal activity in another Mexican mafia members territory.
January 27, 2009 — Daryl Castrejon., 49, failed to appear at a court hearing in Pomona Superior Court for the first time in three years. It was initially believed that Castrejon had been arrested on a cold case murder January 24 but check with local and federal authorities found this to have been a matter of speculation. Speculation ran wild as to the whereabouts of the La eme veteran, yet nothing concrete ever materialized.
February 13, 2009 — San Diego La Eme members Mauricio “Psycho” Mendez, Ernest “Criminal” Soqui, Phillip “Chino” McMillen, Arcadio “Mugsy”, Nieto, Ruben “Espanto” Rivas, Garrett “Chino” Estock, Ernest “Dopey” Lampley, Rosario “Chaio” Mercado, Melvin “Casper” Berg, Rodolfo “Crazy” Lopez, Gerardo “Pirate aka Looney” Canela, Eduardo “Funny” Macias, Jorge “Blue” Lerma-Duenas and Jesus Rodriquez were named in an indictment charging them with being employed by and associating with the Mexican Mafia and each other under Title 18 violations in San Diego and Union City
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Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce
Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has resulted in a dramatic drop in El Salvador's murder rate.
How do you define yourselves?
We are a social group. We see ourselves as a large part of society. We believe that the problem here is social exclusion, discrimination, lack of education, lack of employment and unequal treatment by the law. We think that if you resolve these problems, the violence between gangs will end.
What has been the impact of mass incarcerations of gang members in El Salvador?
The persecution of our brothers has been the fertilizer that has made the gangs grow. They capture five this week. Within a month, there are ten more. They put the father in jail, his kids are next. When those kids grow up, then the grandkid is next. He has a wife, she gets pregnant, that kid is already part of it. Do they achieve anything massacring or jailing us? We doubt it.
[See complete version of interview below or go here.]
How would you characterize this truce?
This process is still in diapers. (Laughs.) In reality, we know that no one has a magic wand. We not waiting for them to show up and say: "Hey, what do you want? This, this and this. Look, here's this, here's this, and here's this." It doesn't work that way.
What commitments have you made to reach the truce?
We haven't said no one will die, as in zero. I mean no murders at all. But, in terms of gang violence, which is what causes most of the murders in this country, these are way down. We think it's working.
What message do you have for gang victims?
We feel badly about what has happened in our country. We know that we cannot revive all those who have died. But we can stop all these senseless murders in the future.
What about other crimes such as extortion?
We think we can eradicate all that gradually. As I told you earlier: neither of us have a magic wand. We have started by reducing the homicides.
Do you have political aspirations?
We don't have political aspirations. We only aspire to have a dignified life. We're not asking for anything special. We don't want to create a political party. We're not interested in politics. We just want to live like everybody else wants to live.
What do the younger gang members think of the truce?
For the younger generation, this doesn't matter. They are there because we have sat them down, explained it to them. We are on top of them. And they're getting it, they're getting it. There are obstacles, difficulties. This is not easy. But no one said it was going to be easy. We think this is a historic process. If this doesn't work. If this doesn't work, we don't have any idea what will happen. It's hard.