Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff is calling for an investigation into the decision to use LAPD resources to set up a meeting downtown between a convicted member of the Mexican Mafia, local police chiefs and business people.
Soboroff called the LAPD’s involvement in the meeting “very, very misconceived and surprising,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “It’s a giant waste of public resources. I have all the obvious questions.”
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 Wednesday 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 it (Mexican Mafia) grew, how it expanded, how it evolved.”
Downing declined to name the individual who spoke, but 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.”
Rene 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.
Members of the Young Presidents Organization also took part in the downtown meeting, according to Los Angeles Police Officer Drake Madison.
The nonprofit organization founded in 1950 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.”
—City News Service