In the wee hours of last Thursday night, September 27—or technically September 28, as it was well past midnight—-a large party was drawing to a close at Kennedy Hall, a rentable performance and event venue on South Atlantic Blvd in East LA, when a violent brawl broke out between off-duty members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, some of whom were members of a notorious deputy clique.
The party had been organized by some young department deputies who were working at sheriffs East Los Angeles station. The excuse for the party was to celebrate the end of the training for one or more of the deputies.
However, sometime between 2 a.m., and 4 a.m., a few of the younger deputies were starting to clean up the hall, when members of a deputy clique at the East LA Station known as the Banditos began bullying a young deputy.
“These guys are the OG deputies,” a source at the station told WLA, the guys at the station who are the self-proclaimed “shot callers.”
According to several sources, these “OG deputies,” all of whom reportedly identify as Banditos, had in the recent past told this young deputy “to do something,” which the deputy evidently did not do—or did not do to their satisfaction.
Thus, as the party wound down, the so-called OG’s—the Banditos—allegedly told the young deputy he was no longer wanted at the station, that he needed to “roll it up.”
This meant, according to LASD sources, that he should ask for a transfer to somewhere else in the department, “like to another station,” explained a source. In short, the deputy was told he needed to leave East LA Station. Period.
Then to make the point, one of the Banditos reportedly pushed the young deputy, who then fell into a second Banditos member, deputy Rafael Munoz.
At this point, still another department member, Deputy Oscar Escobedo—who was not part of the Banditos clique—reportedly came over and tried to calm things down.
Escobedo was told to leave.
“You’re not one of us,” one of the Banditos reportedly said to Escobedo, or words to that effect.
Unwilling to abandon the deputy who was being bullied, Escobedo reportedly remained present.
It is then that everything reportedly went south.
A group of the Banditos department members allegedly jumped Escobedo. Just then, another deputy named rushed over to try to break up the fight, at which point he was reportedly also attacked.
Suddenly the fight turned into a gang brawl.
One of the deputies who attempted to stop the fight was reportedly put in a carotid artery hold by a Banditos member, who slammed him to the floor or wall.
At least two of the non-Bandito deputies who tried to stop things—Escobedo and Art Hernandez—were reportedly hurt seriously enough to be taken to County USC Hospital by ambulance, and we are told that two others required treatment.
We understand that some or all of the fight was caught on at least one video that is in the possession of the sheriff’s department, and there may be more videos that were taken on personal cell phones.
The Bandito problem
This is not the first time that members of the East LA deputy clique have been a source of high profile problems for the LASD. But the clique members have recently become more aggressive again, sources say.
In 2014, Guadalupe Lopez, then a ten year veteran of the force, described in a civil lawsuit filed by attorney Greg Smith, how members of the Banditos, “sexually harassed, threatened and demanded sex from her” as part of “training” when she was transferred to the department’s East LA station in 2011. According to the lawsuit, when Lopez declined the personal advances, harassment, hazing and other forms of retaliation resulted. This allegedly included being run off the road by another deputy, being slammed hard into a wall while she held a loaded shotgun, and having dead rat placed under her car after she reported objectionable behavior by the group.
Lopez’ lawsuit was ultimately settled with LA County for $1,500,000.
According to the same 2014 lawsuit, at that time around 80 deputies associated with the Banditos, whose full members reportedly sport numbered tattoos of a skeleton with a sombrero, bullet sash, and pistol.
Four years later, the deputy gang is reportedly still a problem, as illustrated by last week’s brawl, say department sources—-both working and retired.
Deputies Rafael Munoz, Gregory Rodriguez, and David Silvario, all of the East LA Station, all considered to be Banditos members, were reportedly relieved of duty for their parts in the fight, as was Sergeant Mike Hernandez, who works at Men’s Central Jail but who allegedly still identifies as a Bandito.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department isn’t saying a lot about the matter at the moment.
“An off-duty incident occurred on Friday, September 28, 2018, that involved Department personnel,” department spokesperson Nicole Nishida confirmed for us. “Once the Department became aware of the incident on Friday we immediately initiated an internal investigation, which is on-going.”