Local News Northeast Edition

LAPD under fire for meeting with ex-Mexican Mafia official

LOS ANGELES — The head of the Los Angles Police Commission — the Police Department’s civilian bosses — said that the nonprofit group of business leaders who attended an LAPD-organized event featuring a convicted ex-shot caller for the Mexican Mafia has approached police officials with an offer to reimburse the department’s costs.

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff told the Los Angeles Times Feb. 2 that the Young Presidents’ Organization contacted him about reaching out to the department for an invoice for “any and all expenses” stemming from the security provided at the Jan. 28 event in downtown L.A.

“I think that’s a positive step,” Soboroff said. “But that doesn’t mean the inspector general shouldn’t look at the other issues — why it happened in the first place. And he’s doing that.”

The LAPD has been criticized for coordinating the meeting between business leaders, local police officials and Rene “Boxer” Enriquez, a former shot caller with the prison gang who was sentenced to life in prison for two murders.

The LAPD has not said how many officers were used and how much the event cost the department. But Times reporters saw a heavy police presence around the building, including several unmarked police cars, a police helicopter overhead and officers searching a nearby coffee shop with a police dog.

Soboroff has called the meeting a “giant waste of public resources.” A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti also criticized the department over the event.

Soboroff has asked the police department’s inspector general to investigate the event, which, according to the LAPD, was held so attendees could “learn how a transnational criminal enterprise was built, branded and marketed.”

“Threats to our region remain terrorism and transnational criminal enterprises. It is the hope that we can learn and develop better strategies to counter these threats to our region,” an LAPD statement said.

From noon Jan. 28 until late in the evening the LAPD maintained a heavy police presence, including bomb squad personnel, around a small section of downtown L.A., near Spring and 6th streets.

LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing described the meeting to The Times as an “LAPD-sponsored event” where attendees listened to the man describe his experience with a “transnational criminal enterprise.” He said the department would absorb the cost of having officers at the event for security.

Downing told The Times the meeting lasted about 90 minutes and a couple of hundred people attended. “He talked about how [the Mexican Mafia] grew, how it expanded, how it evolved.”
Although Downing declined to name the individual who spoke, The Times reported that people were seen leaving the meeting with copies of the book, “The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of ‘Boxer’ Enriquez, a Mexican Mob Killer.”

Enriquez spent nearly two decades with the Mexican Mafia, a powerful and deadly gang born in the California prison system. In 1993, Enriquez pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder and has been serving a life term. According to the Times, Enriquez left the gang in the early 2000s and began working with law enforcement.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said he was aware of the meeting and told The Times that the speaker offered a “perspective on organizations and leadership that is unknown to much of this audience.”

Beck said the meeting helped “inform and create awareness” for the local police officials in attendance and helped the private sector think about developing different strategies to fight organized crime.

The Young Presidents Organization is a nonprofit organization founded in 1950 that describes itself on its website as “a global community … of current and former chief executives dedicated to enriching each member’s lifelong journey of leadership, growth and significance through education and idea exchange.”