On Wednesday Jan. 28, hundreds of local government officials and influential business owners gathered in downtown Los Angeles for a private meeting to discuss the interworking’s of a transnational criminal initiative, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Los Angeles Police Department organized the exclusive meeting which took place in a local residential building featuring Rene “Boxer” Enriquez as the speaker, who is a former leader of the Mexican Mafia and convicted murderer. An eight-hour, high-level security watch was in place during the event as a helicopter flew overhead and LAPD officers guarded the streets.
Enriquez, who was initially labeled as a mystery speaker to invited guests, spoke at the podium with free hands and bound ankles regarding his previous affiliation with the Mexican Mafia. The Mexican Mafia is a gang derived from inside the California prisons.
After nearly twenty years as a leader, Enriquez decided to leave the gang and began to collaborate with LA authorities in the early 2000s. As of 2012, Enriquez is under protection to speak in various prisons to discuss his affiliation and knowledge regarding the notorious group.
The 90-minute gathering was intended to raise awareness to the crime and violence enacted by such groups, but was not an “endorsement” of Enriquez, who is currently serving a lifetime sentence for two murders, according to the LA Times interviews with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing. However, other public officials including the mayor and civilian Police Commissioner are questioning the purpose of the event.
Guests were sent through a security check point, leaving their phones and personal belongings at the entrance and were also advised to not speak with journalists regarding the specifics of the event. A question of safety was presented by a local resident, as another discussed the value of the information that Enriquez provides.
Attendees each left with a copy of “The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of ‘Boxer,’” a book written by Enriquez and journalist Chris Blatchford, discussing the nature of the gang and Enriquez decision to leave.