Photograph: Federal Prison EME and AB Members
Submitted to Perplex News by former Mexican Mafia member Ramon “Mundo” Mendoza
(NOTE: For an AUDIO VERSION of this story, Click onto the following link …. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1zAh2qrIqfgbXcypM-Pc9A)
The historical connection between the Mexican Mafia and Aryan Brotherhood prison gangs originated shortly after the AB formed in San Quentin. From 1968 through the 70’s, we were housed together in the lockup units throughout the prison system, most notably, the Adjustment Center and B-Section in San Quentin, 4-A Adjustment Center in Folsom, and O-Wing A/C at Soledad. The EME was the fiercest of the Mexican-American gangs and the same was true of our AB counterparts who represented the white convict population. Both developed what I like to call an alliance of convenience in that we shared a rivalry versus the Black Guerrilla Family and the Nuestra Familia.
On November 13, 1968, Inmate Jimmy Trembley was stabbed to death in his cell at Soledad state prison by EME’s Gabriel “Little Sluggo” Castañeda and Art Chavez. Their crime partner, who participated in this drug-related homicide, was Aryan Brotherhood member William “Snake” Titman. For history buffs, this is the first official homicide, with many more to come, in which the EME and AB worked together. In an attempt to throw off the time of death and buy some time to clean up the crime scene, Little Sluggo arranged the dead body by propping him up with pillows and blankets, wiping the blood from Jimmy’s head, and then he placed a beanie cap and positioned him with a set of earphones over his ears.
On November 11, 1970, EME member Manuel “Tati” Torrez and AB’s Ronnie Perrin and Richard “Bear” Clemence stabbed Bob Harkins to death, also at Soledad. This marked the 2nd instance in which Mexican Mafia and AB members combined resources to collaborate on a prison homicide.
Almost a mirror image of each other, EME and AB members for the most part, as previously mentioned, forged their unholy alliance in the lockup units and a mutual respect ensued. Each group was comprised of the crème de la crème within the California prison system and their association continued more out of convenience rather than necessity. As I recall from those turbulent years, both groups were very proficient in hand-to-hand combat and we found creative ways to manufacture, conceal and access weapons. Because we embraced the warrior mentality, any assault that did not result in a fatality was considered unworthy of conversation. Only a 187, the California penal code section for murder, was worthy of a “notch.” We always joked about how many notches, or kills, we had under our belts.
Contrary to some assumptions that the EME and AB were formed as a means of protection from other inmates, that was not the case and the exact opposite was true. It was the inmate population who needed protection from both the Mexican Mafia and the Aryan Brotherhood. Both prison gangs were comprised of the most violent and predatory inmates within the California Department of Corrections at that time. The EME and AB could function independent of each other and both gangs, despite being allies, lacked the need for the support of the other. Each group preferred to take care of its own business rather than share the glory resulting from successful violent confrontations versus prison rivals. Neither group relished the prospect of the other “stealing its thunder,” although many mutual hit or execution missions would occur through decades of turmoil.
A classic example of one group working completely independent of the other occurred on January 13, 1970, on the O-Wing Adjustment Center yard at Soledad Prison. Members of the Black Guerilla Family and the Aryan Brotherhood clashed during the exercise period while Mexican Mafia members participated in a game of handball. CDC Officer Opie Miller shot BGF members Cleveland Edwards, Alvin Miller W.L. Nolen to death. As bullets ricocheted on the yard, EME members were oblivious to the confrontation taking place next to them. Engaged in a hotly contested handball match, EME’s Joe “Colorado” Ariaz and Ray “Cabezon” Guerrero continued their game. Colorado even jumped over the fallen body of inmate Edwards in pursuit of a handball.
They continued playing for about ten minutes. When the carnage ended, the surviving black inmates argued with prison guards about taking their wounded and dying comrades off the yard to the nearby prison hospital. In the same incident, Aryan Brotherhood member Billy “Buzzard” Harris was shot in the groin area and suffered the loss of a testicle. Months later, at the San Quentin Adjustment Center I gave him the nickname “One Nut Buzzard” which he proudly acknowledged among the EME and AB circle of comrades.
A short-lived peaceful co-existence between the EME and Nuestra Familia was shattered at San Quentin in a dispute that arose there and two non-fatal assaults, one by each group, took place. On April 21, 1972, AB members Fred “Snake Eyes” Mendrin and Donald Hale stabbed NF member Fred “Mosca” Castillo to death on the Palm Hall Unit of Chino Men’s Prison. Although the AB had a stake in the animosity that existed against a common enemy, the hit was ordered by AB member “Tank” Noah as a favor to EME’s “Nico” Velasquez. Mistakenly described by the law enforcement community as the killing that sealed the pact between the EME and AB, this was actually the 3rd prison killing in which these two linked prison gangs acted as co-conspirators.
Confiscated prison documents, photos, greeting cards, and letters repeatedly confirm the criminal and personal relationships between members of the Aryan Brotherhood, also known as “The Brand,” and the Mexican Mafia. From our mutual enjoyment of reading Louis L’Amour “shit kickers” in our extended confinement cells, these books inspired Western jargon. We often referred to each other as “gunslinger” and “saddle pard.”
On June 28, 1972, at the Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown, California, EME’s Nick “Nico” Velasquez and AB member Robert “Blinky” Griffin teamed up and stabbed inmate John Taylor to death in the prison dorm marking the 4th prison murder by the two groups.
On July 3, 1972, at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, the 5th EME and AB murder collaboration took place when Mexican Mafia member Martin “Kato” Vargas and AB member Barry Mills, attacked several members of the Nuestra Familia in the prison chow hall. NF member Jesse “Bozo” Castro was pronounced dead at the hospital and two others were injured in this confrontation. This came one day after another EME member had already murdered an NF member in a prison day room.
On September 6, 1972, NF member Julio Lugo was stabbed to death at Soledad State Prison by AB member Michael “Mickey” Manier. The EME NF war continued throughout the prison system, the BGF already aligned with the Nuestra Familia and the AB and EME were also working together.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 1972, the D-Wing and E-Wing units at Soledad Prison erupted into violence. When the chaos settled, two NF members were killed and two NF associates were wounded in a battle with the EME and AB. I was charged with the murders of Frank “Cisco” Villalobos and Paul “Pablo” Najera; AB members Robert “Bogus Bob” Patton and Richard “Buffalo” Herth were charged with the stabbing assaults on two other victims. Although blood was found on my pants matching one of the victims, I was exonerated and transferred back to San Quentin, my old home. This would be the 6th and 7th murder in which the AB was involved as co-conspirators. After the War of 1972, the EME and NF were separated by the CDC and the focus shifted to the Black Guerrilla Family.
On December 19, 1974, two separate incidents occurred in San Quentin. On the lower yard, EME and AB members attacked the BGF resulting in several BGF injuries and one fatality. EME’s “Black Dan” Barela was charged with the murder of BGF member Truman Nichols. Within minutes, three BGF members were attacked in the prison’s South Dining Hall resulting in the death of one BGF and two injuries. I was charged with the murder of Arthur Harris and the non-fatal stabbing of Gary “Zaribu” Davis.
Contrary to those who enjoy making up Mother Goose stories, the collaboration between the EME and the AB was based on power conflicts rather than racial philosophy. We just happened to be brown, BGF guys were black, and the AB was white. Another false narrative floating around is that EME member Joe Morgan was responsible for the EME-AB alliance because he was of Caucasion extraction and the AB respected him. Joe was indeed of Slavic descent, but his Mexican accent and communication skills put most of his fellow EME Carnales to shame and his heart was Chicano. He was an old member of the Ford Maravilla street gang.
There was a Native-American member of the AB, Martin “Crazy Horse” Lewis who surprised everyone with an unusual request. First, he asked permission to leave the Aryan Brotherhood and explained he wished to join the Mexican Mafia. Like the EME, the AB had a Death Oath which meant death was the only way out. Because of Horse’s sincerity and the AB’s relationship with the fellas, in an unprecedented move, permission was granted and Crazy Horse became “Caballo” from La EME.
So, the EME-AB association was solidified through the tumultuous 1970’s and continued on the outside. Several members collaborated and engaged in numerous bank heists and ongoing criminal conspiracies. This alliance enhanced the power of both prison gangs exponentially. The California factions of both the Mexican Mafia and Aryan Brotherhood are steeped in decades of history and this bond has carried over to other prisons throughout the country.
Today, their connection is firmly rooted in history and solidarity inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons where EME and AB members enjoy the freedoms and privileges of being housed in many prison populations with less restrictive measures. Each group has plenty of gang-related business on their plates but they have assisted each other by murdering inmates the other group cannot get to. The criminal deeds perpetrated by these two groups has been documented in a host of CDCR and law enforcement debriefs which detail the consolidation of power and the joint participation in crimes both in and out of prison.