Photo: FADEL SENNA / AFP / Getty Images
California Parole Board Approved Release of Former Mexican Mafia Prison Gang Leader who has cooperated with authorities for nearly 20 years.
Two consecutive governors previously blocked the parole of René “Boxer” Enriquezpartly on the grounds that he was safer in jail than on the streets, where his former accomplices might attack him for being a snitch.
“They can’t deny you parole on the grounds that you might be in danger. That’s the kind of risk you need to take,” his attorney, Laura Sheppard, said Tuesday.
The authorities took extraordinary measures to protect him over the years, once arrested under an assumed name on a trumped-up charge of possessing a swordfish without a license.
In 2015, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) used SWAT officers and a police helicopter to secure a downtown building so Enriquez could speak to a group of police chiefs and business leaders about the incident. gang growth and operations.
In the past week, prison officials declined to provide a current photograph, citing security concerns.
“With his knowledge of the mob, he believes that if he doesn’t get in his way… he’ll be fine. He doesn’t think they’re going to chase him like you see in the movies, hunting him all over the world,” Sheppard said.
Enríquez plans to continue cooperating with federal authorities.as they are again prosecuting leaders of the prison gang that began in the 1950s in a juvenile jail, and has since grown into an international criminal organization.
The Hispanic has been in prison since 1993, serving a life sentence for two second-degree murders.multiple assaults and conspiracy to traffic drugs.
Enríquez joined the Mexican Mafia, nicknamed the Black Hand or “La Eme”, his initial in Spanish, in 1985. while serving a previous prison sentence for rape and armed robbery, according to parole records. He spent nearly the next two decades building a reputation within the gang through crime, drug dealing and terror, both inside and outside of prison.
The governor Gavin Newsom delivered the decision on the fate of Enriquez, who is now 60 years oldto a hearing from a 12-member panel of the 21-member Parole Board.
The state president cited in part the “unique security threats.” Enríquez revealed “the inner workings of large-scale gang associations and reported on individual gang members. He testified for the prosecution in numerous cases,” Newsom wrote.
The officials, including a retired deputy warden of the California prison system, told the parole panel during a hearing Monday that Enriquez is a different man who will continue to contribute to law enforcement’s battle against the gang..
But family and friends of Cynthia Figueroa Gavaldón, who collaborated with Enríquez in the gang, argued that he is still dangerous and they fear for his safety after his release. Cynthia was 27 years old and the mother of two young children when Enriquez ordered her to be killed on Christmas Eve 1989.
The Hispanic had two gang associates, including Figueroa Gavaldón, who died for infractions such as stealing drugs and money. In Cynthia’s case, he and an accomplice first overdosed the victim on heroin before taking her to a remote area where Enriquez shot her..
Enriquez and another man also stabbed Mexican Mafia leader Salvador “Mon” Buenrostro 26 times with inmate-made weapons in 1991 in an interrogation room at the Los Angeles County jail, though Buenrostro survived.
Enriquez said that left the gang in 2002 when he discovered that its members were killing innocent children and family members of disgraced gang members. He mentioned that he would enlist the help of a witness protection program if he is released.
Over the years Enriquez received dozens of letters of support for his parole from the FBI, local law enforcement officialsseveral state and federal prosecutors, and a deputy state attorney general.
Previously, Newsom blocked Enriquez’ parole twice, in 2019 and 2020.; and then-Governor Jerry Brown blocked it three times, in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
This time, Newsom said he would leave the decision up to the Parole Board. because of its “unique procedural and appellate history” and “other unusually complex factors.” He asked parole officials to consider both Enriquez’s “particularly violent criminal history and unique rehabilitation history.”
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