Monday, September 12, 2022

"Right out of 'Macbeth': A woman’s killing shines light on Mexican Mafia power struggle in Inland Empire"

The LATimes both goes into tremendous detail, and not enough detail, seemingly glancing over the possible significance of this sentence amidst a story of men competing for power in the drug trade:

Whatever the reason, other Mexican Mafia members decided to put Rodriguez “on disregard,” meaning no one was to carry out his orders or deliver him money, [the prosecution's star witness] and other witnesses testified.

But his wife was defiant and continued to collect taxes on his behalf, according to testimony.

But if you're interested in the broad strokes:

The city of San Bernardino is divided by the 215 Freeway. To its east is downtown, the banks and courthouses and municipal buildings, the shuttered shopping center, the big-box stores. To the west is a pocket of small homes, dusty and sun-beaten, some tidy, others heaped with junk and debris. This is the territory of Westside Verdugo.


The neighborhood was once home to working-class Latino households supported by decent-paying jobs with the Santa Fe railroad, Kaiser Steel and Norton Air Force Base. But between 1983 and 1994, all three employers moved or shut down. Thousands of jobs vanished.

“Once they shut down Kaiser, Santa Fe, Norton, everything went down,” [a gang expert] said. Some households relied on government assistance to make ends meet, he said, while others turned to crime. “You don’t have a thriving economy, you have people out of a job, you’re going to have crime,” he said. “And you know what the biggest caper is? Drugs.”


[One of the conspirators] was Rodriguez’s “secretary” — a role once typically filled by women who were not in prison, who used visits and letters to pass messages from Mexican Mafia members to their underlings. But the proliferation of contraband cell phones in the state prison system has proved a “game changer,” testified [a San Bernardino Police lieutenant]. Prisoners can now communicate directly with one another to arrange drug deals, order assaults and organize collection rackets, [the lieutenant] testified.

Phones are smuggled in by correctional officers and “free staff” — plumbers, electricians, food preparers, [the star witness] testified. “I’ve seen nurses bring ‘em in, I’ve seen ‘em flown in on drones.”

If you want more deep dives into the drug trade in California, the LA Times published this long feature a few days ago: 

The reality of legal weed in California: Huge illegal grows, violence, worker exploitation and deaths