Diversity Is Strength! It's Also…The Mexican Mafia
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[Previously by Lincoln Kahn: Those Enterprising Immigrants: One Story ]

For most of its 300-plus page-length, Tony Rafael's new book The Mexican Mafia is better entertainment than The Sopranos and more frightening a portrait of armies of the night than Dawn of the Dead. Almost certainly it stands as the most revealing work about American organized crime since Nick Pileggi's Wiseguy, the book that was the source for the movie Goodfellas.

What does Rafael have to say that groups from The Los Angeles Times to La Raza have sought to keep quiet?

Simply this: the Italian Mafia now has a large, well-organized and far more bloody rival.


  • In the last decade it has perpetrated more killings than the Italian mafia has in the United States in its whole history.



  • With more than 300 "made" members, so-called carnals, thousands of "soldiers" or associates, and control over all but a handful of the tens of thousands of Hispanic street gang members in Los Angeles, it has manpower at its disposal which the Italian Mafia can only fantasize about.


  • It also now dominates the prisons of many parts of the West and, as a series of trials have shown, it has successfully penetrated civil service agencies and even many parts of the California law enforcement establishment.

Rafael's book is based on a decade of research and interviews with police, prosecutors, defense lawyers and former and current members of the Eme, and it is intended as a warning. Rafael's message is plain: unless action is taken now, the Eme will become the persistent problem that the Italian Mafia became—and will, like the old Mafia, spread across the entire country.

But, Rafael notes, given its structure and history, the Eme may prove far more deadly—as it is far more violent today than the old Mafia ever was.

Rich in detail, the book fascinates purely on that level: its revelations about the methods and terminology of this giant criminal underground are as sensational as anything in past masterpieces of muckraking like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

This includes information, for example, on the prescribed method for killing an Eme turncoat. Three assassins are to lure the traitor to a discreet place and then shoot him repeatedly in the skull and face. The first shots are to be made by the killer with the smallest and easiest to conceal pistol while the killer with the biggest gun serves as the lookout.

Rafael alternates between providing a history of the Mexican Mafia with accounts of major trials of some of its leaders.

Founded in 1957 by a Los Angeles street gang member named Luis Flores, the Mexican Mafia consciously took its name in imitation of its older model. Just as La Cosa Nostra, the Eme has a process for "making" new members. Mexican Mafia members are "jumped in" through a bloody ritual in which they are sometimes shot with a BB so that they will know what a gunshot feels like. Once in the organization as a brother (carnal), the rule is "blood in, blood out". No member can speak publicly about the group or leave without sentence of death. Those who try to leave the group or testify against it are "greenlighted", marked for death on "listas", which are smuggled each day out of the California prison system by members, their families and their (sometimes unwitting) defense attorneys.

It is there, in the prisons, Rafael shows, that the Mexican Mafia first emerged as a power. Because Mexican-Americans are the largest group in the California penal system, they soon came to dominate it, and even white supremacist groups like the Aryan Brotherhood have become de facto junior partners. Flores, like nearly all the Eme leaders, spent much of his life in the jails. Before long, he had a large network of brothers committed to his idea of organizing a group of "super-criminals" capable of intimidating any possible rivals.  Indeed, within just a few years, through unrelenting campaigns of murders and beatings, eMe had even come to be the top dog group in San Quentin.

By the late 1960s the organization's principles and practices had become broadly established, and the name "Eme"—literally the Spanish for the letter M in mafia—had become accepted. [VDARE.COM NOTE: Mexican gangsters sometimes spell it "eMe" as if they were some kind of iGang. Spelling is not their strong point.]

There are some dramatic contrasts between the Eme and the traditional Mafia, however—and not just degree of bloodthirstiness. Eme members are theoretically equal. In contrast with the purely top-down hierarchical structure of the Cosa Nostra, major decisions in the group are made through some process of consensus among the "carnals".

Achieving this consensus may, of course, involve conflict and violence. But in theory no carnal is permitted to "greenlight" another carnal unless it can be show that the "brother" has turned state's evidence—providing what is known within the group as "paperwork."

One of the most disturbing of the Eme's practices is ethnic cleansing. As one might expect of a group whose symbols include Aztec gods and which has been known to use the Aztec language Nahuatl as a means of coding notes sent among its leaders, the group is fiercely nationalistic. Rafael shows that its policy has been to push its associates to murder any and all blacks (called "mayates") who try to move into Mexican-American neighborhoods or date Hispanic women. He documents a great number of these killings along with a few of the trials that followed.

In addition, Rafael shows:

  • The Eme also has been known routinely to engage in thrill killings and beatings of "Chinos", a designation it applies most often, curiously, to Cambodians and Filipinos.


  • It is also an Eme policy and a sworn belief that threats or derogatory comments made in the presence of Eme associates and soldiers towards any Hispanic person by non-Hispanics must be repaid with violence.

Ironically, as Rafael also shows, the Emes are also contemptuous of those they call their Border Brothers, or "BBs": illegal aliens who do not speak English. The group's Associates regularly rob and beat illegals as a way of supplementing their income.

The eMes' exploitation of aliens is clearly one of the most powerful arguments against present U.S. open borders policies. Illegal aliens are both the most common victims of the Eme and those with least ability to appeal to the police for protection from it.

Even so, these "Border Brothers" are also used to get the drugs from Mexico which the Eme and their associates sell throughout the Southwest and which is their major source of income.

Among Rafael's other important revelations:

  • Like La Cosa Nostra, the Mexican Mafia includes many members from the same nuclear families, often passing on from generation to generation.


  • "Some families have as many members in prison as on the street. And rather than feeling shame, some of these families take perverse pride in having relatives locked up for decades or for life. Families that are deep in the Eme or a street gang have status in the barrio."



  • The eMe not only brings in large amounts of cocaine from Mexico but high-quality amphetamine as well.


The last fifty pages of Rafael's book at times become repetitive, and the galley version of the book I received could have been better edited. One also wishes that the book had an index. However, this is only because the book is such a remarkable resource.

Because his message is so politically incorrect, the author speaks repeatedly of his struggles to get The Los Angeles Times and other leading outlets in California—to say nothing of the rest of the country—to recognize the seriousness of the problem. Most gang killings, he shows, are ignored. The Eme is treated in the mainstream media as J. Edgar Hoover once regarded the Italian Mafia: an urban legend or at least a gross exaggeration.

Indirectly, Rafael provides decisive evidence of how present immigration policies are feeding the Eme's growth—and how the current double standards about race prevent discussion of the phenomenon.

Lincoln Kahn (email him) is a New York-based writer

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