Upon review, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Charlie Beck concurs that it was a mistake for officers to escort an incarcerated ex-Mexican Mafia leader and killer to a meeting downtown with 125 wealthy business leaders and local police chiefs.
The event’s sponsor, the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), produced Enriquez for the private meeting and PowerPoint presentation last week amid heavy security. Refreshments were served. YPO is the self-proclaimed “world’s premier peer network of chief executives and business leaders.”
Enriquez is currently serving two 20-to-life sentences under the supervision of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). He began cooperating with authorities after leaving the gang more than a decade ago and has been in LAPD custody since 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Friday, the Times reported that a parole board recommended after a September 2014 hearing that Enriquez be freed. Eleven law enforcement agencies gave the board glowing accounts of his work with them, including the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice, the California Department of Justice, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Governor Jerry Brown has the last word on it. A decision is expected withing three weeks.
Enriquez has quietly appeared at a lot of events over the years. According to the 2013 Mexican Mafia Encyclopedia (pdf), “Rene is a highly sought after conference speaker at law enforcement seminars.” And why not? “He is notorious for his innovative approach and considered a pioneer who successfully implemented the Mexican Mafia’s tax program on Sureño street gangs, which remains in effect to this day.”
The Enriquez entry also says he is “currently in prison at an undisclosed location.” The undisclosed location, however, was actually known to one of the two co-authors—Enriquez himself.
Last week’s gathering, at a historic 12-story building on busy Spring Street, did not appear to be all that discreet. The Times said an LAPD helicopter hovered above while half a dozen security personnel hustled the shackled guest speaker into the building and down to a large room two stories underground. Event-goers entered past a police dog and metal detector.
Chief Beck defended the gathering when it became known on Wednesday, texting, “He offers a perspective on organizations and leadership that is unknown to much of this audience.” On Thursday, he conceded that “mistakes were made” and said the department would “more thoroughly review future events before committing LAPD resources.”
In between, mayoral spokesman Yusef Robb said it “was inappropriate and should have never happened. We expect a full accounting of why this occurred and we are going to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.”
L.A. Police Commission Chairman Steve Soboroff called it a “giant waste of public resources.” He wants the independent inspector general to investigate.
“If you step back and look, the perception is it’s like ‘meet a real-life Mexican Mafia informant and have some hors d'oeuvres and get a book,’ ” Soboroff said.