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Mexican Mafia Chronicles: Champ Reynoso Dies

Word was recently passed to me that another of the pioneers of the country’s most damaging prison gangs, the Mexican Mafia, has died.

Adolph “Champ” Reynoso passed at a Colorado hospital near the federal maximum-security lockup where he’d spent his last many years. He was 75.

Reynoso was part of L.A. crime lore. He was a member of Big Hazard, an East LA street gang.

Later, he was made a member of the Mexican Mafia while in prison. He was one of the 22 Eme members indicted in the first federal RICO case against the gang — coming in 1995, and hingeing on the testimony of Ernie “Chuco” Castro, up to that point one of the most influential members of the organization.

The trial pulled back the veil on the mafia in several ways – one of which was to reveal its scheme for using street gang members to tax drug dealers in the barrios of Southern California, the revenue for which was funneled to mafia members and their associates.

The scheme remains in place today and has turned the Mexican Mafia into more than a prison gang –rather, an organization with enormous influence beyond prison walls.

Years later, now 61, Reynoso was identified as a leader of the Eme in the Supermax prison at Florence, Colorado, in testimony about a hit that took place within the gang at the prison.

At his passing, he was deemed the highest-ranking active Mexican Mafia member.

The last few years have seen the passing of several Eme figures from those years — those who formed or spread the Eme: Peter “Sana” Ojeda, Frank “Frankie B” Buelna, Ruben Rodriguez, “Black Dan” Barela. Joe Morgan and Benjamin “Topo” Peters died years ago. Many others have dropped out of the gang while in prison – an exodus that began with Castro, who went into federal witness protection, and, before him, Ramon “Mundo” Mendoza.

Most of the older Eme members, like Reynoso, were heroin addicts on the street — reflecting the fact that their criminal careers began in the late 1960s, early 1970s — a time when heroin crept into the Mexican-American neighborhoods of Southern California with a vengeance.

 

 

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`Macho Prieto’ Dies — the most sung-about hitman in many a year

Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza, the alleged chief of hitmen for Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, himself the alleged co-leader of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, has been killed in Puerto Penasco, Sonora.

Inzunza, 42, was from Culiacan, Sinaloa and better known by his nickname, El Macho Prieto.
He ran operations for the cartel in Mexicali for the cartel, which had wrested the town and plaza away from the wounded Arellano Felix Cartel that controlled it for two decades before the early 200s.
The US government had deemed him one of its most-wanted drug traffickers and the Mexican government had offered a reward of 3 million pesos for him.

 

Apart from allegedly running a ruthless hit squad responsible for some 80 murders, including a dozen policemen, El Macho Prieto had what I thought was the distinction of being the hitman with most songs written about him, perhaps in the history of organized crime — mostly from singers in the Movimiento Alterado. The MA is a movement of singers, based here in Los Angeles, whose lyrics are as bloodthirsty as the people and killings they describe from the drug war down in Mexico.

The MA guys just loved singing about El Macho Prieto, as you will see if you do a Google search, as I just did, for “macho prieto corridos.”

As you can see, it took about five minutes for someone to write a corrido about his death and put it on youtube.com.

 

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