The Mexican Mafia- A Career Lifer’s Perspective


I’m a Mexican American who grew up in Northeast Los Angeles, California in the 90’s. I remember when the Mexican Mafia was running things. They were the ones who decided who got to do what, and when. They had their fingers in everything- from drug trafficking to extortion. If you wanted to be successful in any criminal enterprise, you had to pay your respects to them.

I’m not going to lie- I was always tempted by the gang life. Growing up in NELA during the 90’s was the pinnacle of gang culture in the U.S. And it was all happening in my backyard.

It was hard not to be fascinated by it. American Me the movie just came out and the homies were all jacked about it. It was our only representation as a Mexican that was being depicted in Hollywood.

But to make matters worse, two of my best friends were already heavily involved in this lifestyle. Their families were knee deep in this shit. One of my best friends at Eagle Rock Junior high ended up joining EchoXParque and my best friend I met when I transfered to Franklin High School in Highland Park ended up joining Avenues. Ironically, I ended up befriending another homie through our party crews who ended up getting into HighlandxParque.

I remember visiting my boy at his house in Echo Park when I was only a Sophomore. I thought he was just balling until I realized it was a crack house. He had people knocking on the door just like I had seen in the movies. This dude was swimming in cash.

The money was good, and it seemed like they had all the power. But I knew that it wasn’t a life that I wanted for myself. I didn’t want to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life, waiting for someone to stick a knife in my back. So I decided I would listen to my parents and stay focused on the one thing I was good at during that time, which was sports. I was killing it in Football and was leading the state in passing yards as a Quarterback at Franklin High School. More on this in another story.

The Mexican Mafia is still around today, but they’re not as powerful as they used to be. Thanks to law enforcement cracking down on them, and new technology making it easier for people to connect and communicate without them, their grip on California has loosened significantly.

There are still some career lifers in the Mexican Mafia, but most of them are getting too old and too tired to keep up with the younger generations. It’s only a matter of time before the Mexican Mafia is nothing more than a memory if they cannot turn their criminal organization into a legitimate enterprise, just like the Italians did. This is something I have discussed for years.

Learn More about the Mexican Mafia and American Me Story from PFP publishing

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