Arresting Alex Sanchez Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice FBI Gangs LAUSD

The Arrest of Alex Sanchez – Part 2


I am still in Washington DC.
(I was at Bennington College going through the last ten days of my MFA program, which was wonderful! My son flew in to see his middle-aged mom graduate. Then jumped over to DC for the week. Am flying back tonight—and very ready to be home in LA and to pat dog and cat-type critters).

Meanwhile, I am monitoring the unfolding story about Alex Sanchez’s arrest.

(Frank Girardot has a PDF of the actual indictment.)

Here are a few small updates and some thoughts:


Friends and associates have organized an informational meeting on Alex Sanchez’s legal situation this Sunday at 6 pm at the Central American Resource Center—CARECEN—at 2845 W 7th St, Los Angeles.

His bail hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, June 30 at the US District Court at 312 N. SPRING ST, 8th floor. Supporters are being encouraged to attend the hearing.


Some voices have been comparing Sanchez’s legal troubles to those of Hector Marroquin, the former—and decidedly crooked—gang intervention worker who began an organization called No Guns then was arrested in 2007 after he was found to be dealing in ….guns.

On the surface, the two cases might appear to be similar—both men worked in gang intervention in LA. Both men were arrested and charged with serious illegal gang activity—Alex’s charges far more serious even than Marroquin’s.

But past the surface, the stories are very, very different.

Sanchez is genuinely beloved by a wide variety of people in LA and beyond. Marroquin, by contrast, was viewed by many as troubled—even before there was any kind of hard evidence that he was up to no good. Thus when the news broke about his arms sales, few in and around LA’s gang violence reduction field were all that surprised by the revelations as they had long suspected that the man might still be playing both sides of the street.

Not so, Alex Sanchez.

His arrest has produced shock and widespread disbelief among those who know him. (You will pardon me if I don’t take seriously those who do not know Sanchez personally, who are now shrieking, “Oh, yeah, we saw it all along!”)

Thus far, the level of support for him has remained very strong.

One of the few exceptions has been civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who has given interviews to the WaPo and to Frank Stolze at KPCC, in which Connie wondered if Alex was slipping because, “He was not willing to help gang intervention workers who were getting targeted by gangs that he had relationships with. That’s always a sign that they are backing away from the intervention role.”

Connie is a friend and I respect her tremendously. But I find this line of reasoning faulty and disappointing. A lot of people have been “backing away,” as she puts it, from the hard core street intervention to which Connie refers. In the simplest sense, this means meeting with gang members and trying to persuade them to stop shooting at each other.

Yet, some of those most expert in the field of gang violence reduction and community health— Father Greg Boyle prominently among them—have been down that road many, many times in past years and now feel that their days are more productively spent with such efforts as getting guys who want out of the gang world into solid jobs, helping their little brothers to stay in school, and aiding those emerging from juvenile facilities and prisons to make a successful—and law-abiding—transitions back into their families and communities.

The idea is to help the homeboys and homegirls create new, good lives—not to try to persuade them to better manage the old, bad ones.

I can’t say for sure whether Alex still believes in street intervention or not. I can say that, whenever I spoke to him, he seemed the most interested in programs that had to do with helping gang members and former homeboys (or wannabe homeboys) move toward the light, one might say, rather than trying to negotiate with the darkness.

In other words, if a chary view of street-level shuttle diplomacy between gangs and gang members (which is a tourniquet at best and that some experts believe actually enforces the gang structure, not disrupts it) is evidence of gang involvement, then I’ve got a list of middle-aged gang expert white people whom the Feds might want to investigate—myself included.

And while we’re on the subject of Father Greg Boyle, here’s a small snippet of what he wrote in one of the emails we have been exchanging on the subject of Alex Sanchez, and why Greg doesn’t believe that Alex could possibly be involved in an MS-13 conspiracy:

1. Here’s the story: Law enforcement–and I
include the FBI here–when it comes to the gang thing–they see only
through a glass darkly. They possess exactly half the pieces to this
jigsaw puzzle. That’s not bad news–if they were humble, they could say
to the “community”–“Look, we have only half the pieces”–then
together, truly, we’d be able able to piece this puzzle together.

2. The Bad news: they possess half the pieces, but assert that they
have all the pieces.

3. So…this is why cops tell homies that “The Mexican Mafia has
meetings at Homeboy Industries” and Blinky [Rodriquez] holds the guns
for Valley gangs ….and Alex Sanchez is “involved” in some MS conspiracy. They
hold half the pieces. They put two and two together and get 5.

We are a long way from the end of this story.


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