At the age of about fifteen, I started stealin' cars and stealin' beer and all that stuff. Well, one night three of us stole a car from the Mobil gas station in Ocean Beach, and we were ridin' around, and coming through Old Town, a police officer pulled up next to us in an unmarked car. We didn't know he was a police officer, and we asked if he wanted to race and everything, and he flashed his badge at us as we were just startin’ to come out of Old Town and hit Highway 8. Well, we tried to outrun him, and it ended up in a high-speed chase past Presidio Park, and we crashed the car along the middle divider of the freeway. We were all arrested and put in juvenile hall.
I stayed in juvenile hall for about two months. My father was out of town working all the time refinishing hardwood floors, and my mother was living in Ocean Beach, and they were divorced. The juvenile courts felt I was beyond the control of my mother, whose custody I was in, so they put me into custody of my grandmother in Ocean Beach and let me out of juvenile hall on probation. I saw very little of my father or my mother, so supervision wasn’t very strict.
My grandfather had died when I was about twelve, and it seems like that’s when all my troubles started. Everyone in the family thinks there’s some connection there between his death and my beginning to get in trouble. I was an only child until the age of seven, when my sister was born. I went to Ocean Beach Elementary school, and in the fourth grade, we moved to El Cajon. I went to Madison Elementary School in fifth and sixth grade and played Little League baseball for Singing Hills Little League in El Cajon by Granite Hills High School. I played mostly shortstop and pitcher, but I pretty much played every position. When I was picked for the All-Stars, well, everybody else who was picked had a new glove except me. I went and stole a baseball glove at Thrifty’s so I wouldn’t be the only kid without one. But my father found out about my new glove and wanted to know where I got it. After a couple hours of hitting me on the rear end with a belt, I finally admitted I had stolen it. and he had me return it and tell ’em I was sorry, which I did. And I ended up playin’ in the All-Star game with my old glove.
At the age of about thirteen, I was goin’ to Greenfield Junior High, and that’s when I started gettin’ in a lotta fights and just, you know, little trouble every kid gets into, especially boys. Then we moved back to Ocean Beach. Through the eighth grade I went to Collier Junior High, and then in the ninth grade, I went to Point Loma High School. In 1964 I was kicked out for fightin’, and they made me go to Midway Continuation School.
At Midway Continuation, their academic requirements wasn’t really that strict. I went for four hours, from eight in the morning till noon, and took typing. And that was my school day.
Along about this time was when we started drinking, mostly Red Mountain wine and beer, or pretty much anything we could get anybody to buy us. And the people I run around with, the big thing for them on Fridays and Saturday nights was goin’ to dances and dancin’ awhile with the girls you knew and fightin’ with the guys you didn’t. It was the excitement of this that appealed to me. Life was pretty boring durin’ the week, and this was a way to let loose on the weekends. Plus, if you won your fights, you became pretty popular. That was the big weekend to everybody back then.
After stealin’ that car, I stayed on probation for a few months, and then I met this girl at a party in Point Loma one night, and I guess you could say it was love at first sight, or whatever you’d call it. We were fifteen. Anyway, we ended up goin’ together for a few months, and then she became pregnant. We went to Tijuana and got married. It really didn’t matter if it was legal or not, it just seemed like the thing to do. We was too young to do it legal.
The crime started really pyramidin’ at this time. The police were lookin’ for me for a number of armed robberies and some car thefts. And about six months later, when my wife was pregnant, I was arrested for these armed robberies. They were armed robberies of service stations, and also the El Cajon Theater on Main Street. When I robbed the theater, it was me and another person, with me in the car in the alley waitin' for him to do it. He’s usually s’posed to be back in just a coupla minutes, but I set there for over five minutes and he never came back. Well, I couldn’t just leave him, so I got out of the car and went to make sure he was all right. He was still standing at the ticket booth window as I walked up, pleading with the girl to give him the money. The girl had the money drawer up to the window, but the drawer was too big to fit through the slot. So he was panickin' on how to get the money out of there, and she was tryin’ to just have him stick his hand in there and get the money, I guess. I ran up to the window with a gun and told her to put all the money in her purse and stick it through. I put a few other little colored words in there to make sure she did it and took us serious. And she did it, and we ran and got away with about $250.
I had quit goin’ to school. I think the life of crime started from boredom. And you let a kid have too much freedom with nothin’ to do, and with a little bit of peer pressure and a lotta the blame on his own self, he’s gonna do something wrong. Not all kids are like that, but I guess I was.
Anyway, Sherry and I were runnin’ wherever we could to hide. We were at my uncle’s house one day, and the police pulled up. My uncle, who is dead now and was probably one of the best friends I ever had, lived on Midway Drive by the go-go bars there. About three cop cars pulled up lookin’ for me for these robberies. Well, my uncle seen ’em comin’, so he put us in a little trailer outside of his house, and by the time the police got up the driveway from Midway Drive, he had started paintin’ the trailer. While we were settin’ in the trailer, the police asked him if he knew where we were, and he stood there and painted the door of this trailer, tellin’ ’em he hasn’t seen me and doesn’t know anything about anything, so after a few minutes they left.
About a week later, I was arrested. They got me in El Cajon, where I was stayin’ with my mom, who had moved there from Ocean Beach. I’d come home one day and found her cryin’ real hard, and I finally got her to tell me why. She said that while she was gone that day, a neighbor down the street was baby-sittin’ my little brother, who was three years old, and he had tried to molest my little brother. When I found this out, I ran down the street to his house and caught him in his garage, and I stabbed him a number of times in the chest with a switchblade. For some reason, he didn’t die. I was arrested and charged with the armed robberies.
They threw me and two friends of mine who were charged as accessories into juvenile hall. I was sixteen. While I was in juvenile hall, Sherry had the baby. Okay. She was in juvenile hall, too, for runaway and incorrigible and suspicion of driving the getaway car in those robberies. But her mother let her out of juvenile hall, and her mother told her that she either cut me loose and move to La Jolla with her and never see me again, or she was going to leave Sherry in juvenile hall and have the baby took from her.
So Sherry went along with it, and about two weeks later, she got out of juvenile hall. I was in juvenile hall about a week, and the first thing I knew when I got out, she didn’t want to see me, didn’t want to talk to i me or nothin’. So then about two days later, I find out they moved up above Scripps Institute in La Jolla. She was goin’ to La Jolla High School, so me and about six friends of mine went out to the little restaurant called the Rancherita Cafe there by Taco Bell on La Jolla Boulevard where all the kids from La Jolla High went after school. I went inside and she was settin’ there with her brother and some friends, and all I did was walk up and say, “I want to talk to you.” Well, at the time she was afraid to talk to me because she thought her brother might tell her mother and she would lose the baby and all this. I didn’t understand that, so we tore the restaurant up.
Me and a friend of mine went inside first, the others set out in the car waiting on us. When she wouldn’t come out, her brother said somethin’ to me and started a fight right there. I drug him out of the booth, and the juke box got kicked sideways and fell out the front window of the restaurant onto the street. This caused quite a bit of noise, and when the window broke, all the guys in the car that was with me came runnin’ inside to help us, and we tore the restaurant up. We turned over tables and busted dishes and chased everybody outside.
Me and my friends got in the car and went back to Ocean Beach where we was livin’, and for a couple days, these guys from La Jolla kept callin’ and tellin’ me why don't we come out there when they’re ready for us, instead of comin’ out there when they didn’t expect it. Why not make it even, and then we’ll kick your ass.
So I got eleven other people with me. It took me a couple days. And we went to the Taco Bell where they was s’posed to have twelve people waiting for us. Well, we got within three blocks of the place, and the streets were jam-packed with people. The whole school was down there. We parked, and all we had was chains and knives and pipes and bats and sticks and stuff; we didn’t have no guns because we didn’t want nobody to die. There was between forty and fifty Mexican guys standing in the street, and we figured they was the guys we were s’posed to fight. So we went over there, but they said they were there to fight with us, not against, just to help make it even.
We walked over toward the Taco Bell, and Sherry come runnin’ out of the crowd and pleaded with me to just leave before somethin’ happened. I told her I can’t leave, if I left now it’d make me look like a sissy. I have to stay, and even if I lose, I can’t run. So she slapped me. And her brother jumped out of the crowd and started threatening me. I had a switchblade knife, so I snapped it open, and her brother says, “I can’t fight you with that.” A friend of mine pulled out a knife and threw it at his feet and says, ‘‘You have one now, punk, pick it up.” Well, he wouldn’t pick it up. He ran back into the crowd, scared. And this gave us a little more confidence. With hundreds of people there who didn't like us, none of ’em had the guts to fight us, so we got pretty bold.
Well, it began with just a few fistfights between us and them, and then it ended up into a riot. The police came with paddy wagons and filled them with people, but they couldn’t get to the center of where the fightin' was, so all they really arrested was people who weren’t doing anything.
We ended up down at the end of Marine Street in La Jolla on the sand fighting, and I got hit in the face with a beer bottle and was knocked out. My friends picked me up and wanted to take me to the hospital, but I told 'em no, the police would get involved, and we’d prob’ly all get arrested. So just take me to my grandmother’s and put me on the porch, and I’d make it. I couldn’t see out of one of my eyes, my nose was shattered. So I got on my porch and they drove away, and I scratched on the screen and my aunt and my grandmother came and got me off the porch and laid me on the bed. They took me to the hospital, and I stayed there for about five days.
A condition for my getting out of juvenile hall was that I go back to school. Well, the police came to Midway Continuation School that first day after I got out of the hospital with a court order drawn up by the judge saying that all twelve of us who’d been in the fight couldn’t go in certain boundaries any longer. If we were seen within the north side of Grand Avenue, east of the shoreline to Highway 5, and north to Del Mar, we were to be arrested on sight. This is late 1966, early 1967.
Soon after the La Jolla High School fight, I was arrested for joy-riding and burglary, incorrigible, and violation of my probation. I was sent back to juvenile hall. California Youth Authority. I was almost seventeen when I went to Norwalk in 1968, was there about two months, and then I escaped. Norwalk was the reception and evaluation center for CYA. I went out on a four-hour pass and just didn’t come back. I ran and hitchhiked back to San Diego the next day. I’d told these guys from Santa Ana that if they took me all the way down to San Diego, I’d give ’em a half-pound of marijuana. Needless to say, I didn’t have no marijuana; I was lyin’ just to get the ride, but it worked. When we got to San Diego, some friends of mine went out to the car and told ’em to get out of here, they weren’t gettin’ nothin’.
There was a little group of guys that I run around with then that were into drugs pretty heavy. They were smugglin’ drugs and dealin’ large quantities, flyin’ ’em to Aspen and Fort Lauderdale and Deming, New Mexico. And makin' a lotta money doin’ this. Well, one day, while I was escaped, these guys came into the house I was stayin’ at on Draper in La Jolla with a friend of mine, Gil, and they called him out into the front yard with a proposal. They said there was a car that was comin’ across the border the night before this, and customs stopped it because the registration was messed up, and there was drugs in it, but the drugs were never found. They was willin' to give us half of the drugs in the car if we would get the car out of the federal impound lot in San Ysidro. At first we hesitated. I didn’t want to do it because I thought for sure that if the federal law enforcement gets after you, you ain’t got a chance in the world of stayin’ free. After half the night of trying to talk me into it, I finally agreed that I’d look at the place and check it out, and if I thought I could get away with it, I would take that car for ’em.
For three days, we watched this place. We looked at it all day long and all night long. We saw how many people was workin’ there, wrote down the time the night watchman left to go get his lunch across the street at Denny’s, and whether or not the places around it had people in ’em or were closed. We had to put two dogs to sleep, so we took some Seconal and put it in some Milky Way candy bars and threw ’em over the fence. This put the dogs to sleep in a little over an hour. So we cut the lock off the gate and went in, and first I checked to see if the drugs were actually in the car.
I could smell the marijuana, but to make sure, I took off one of the door panels and saw stacks of kilos in the door. The car was parked at a sideways angle to the gate, so we had to push it back and forth to get it lined up straight. We pushed it out, closed the gate, and started the car with the keys that were left in it.
We drove to Carmel Valley Road out past Del Mar, by a graveyard. We left the car there and went up to the graveyard like we were s’posed to do, and then my car pulled up with two other cars. There was a hundred kilos of opium-cured marijuana, weed that nowadays would be considered Thai sticks, in the station wagon we stole, and four ounces of heroin, and 30,000 rainbows, which was a downer back then that people liked to take. We were s’posed to get half of all this, so we trusted these guys. They were s’posed to put our half of the drugs in the car, then they’d drive off, we wait five minutes, then get in my car and drive home. We did this the way they said, and when we got home and pulled into the garage, there was three kilos of the opium marijuana in the car and nothin’ else. Needless to say, we were very upset.
We went and got Gil’s two brothers, some shotguns, and we went to the guy’s house who’d offered us this money-makin’ opportunity. We kicked in the door, ran inside, held everybody down on the couch, and I ran into the bedroom to catch the guy who made the deal with us. He was trying to get out of the bedroom window. So I pulled him back in, stuck the shotgun in his face, and told him he had fifteen minutes to get us our stuff or we was gonna blow ’em all away.
He made a phone call, and about ten minutes later a car pulls up. It’s not the same car that we had stolen; I think they drove that off a cliff that night. The man says we can have the car, the drugs are in it, check first, and if we’re satisfied, then get the hell out of there. So we did, and all the drugs were there. Fifty kilos of the opium-cured marijuana, 15,000 rainbows, and two ounces of heroin.
So we start sellin’ it and usin’ it and makin’ money, and then a friend of ours somehow got 25,000 hits of LSD that was made by the government for experiments. How he got it I have no idea. But we started sellin’ this. And usin’ it. I took LSD maybe twenty times. And after a few months, in December of that year, 1967,1 was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and escape and resisting arrest, and I was thrown into the city jail.
I turned eighteen two days later. I told ’em I was eighteen when they arrested me so they’d put me in jail rather than juvenile hall. I could not stand juvenile hall. But I didn’t realize at the time that the city jail was a lot worse.
So I was in the city jail, which is the building where the San Diego Police Department is located right now, across from where the ferry used to be. They gave me thirty days for carrying a concealed weapon, and I had a parole hold for escape from the Youth Authority. I was to be picked up and taken back to Youth Authority after my thirty days was up. Well, during this thirty days, there was a man there doin’ time for counterfeiting. And he had another counterfeiting case in L. A. He was a trusty. And he got us access to some hacksaw blades. So we planned a jail break.
They let us out of our cells for about an hour and a half every night to use the phone and to get exercise. During this time, we cut on the window at the end of the catwalk on the second tier, which overlooked the ferry. The window was at such an angle to where we had to bend kind of in an S-shape in order to fit out of it once it was cut. After a couple weeks of cuttin’ on this window, we managed to cut two of the bars out of the window and the little mesh that covers the window, and we thought we had enough room to make it. We kept replacing the cut bars and fixing them in there with soap, so they couldn’t tell they’d been cut.
Sunday was coming up, and this trusty that had given us hacksaw blades was having to go to L.A. for the counterfeit charge. But he wanted to go out with us. He told us we had to go by Saturday night because Sunday morning the FBI was pickin’ him up to take him to L.A. So we cut and cut for an hour and a half on Friday and four hours on Saturday and Saturday night, when they let us out of the cells for exercise. But we still couldn’t fit through, bending at such a strange angle. So we figured, you know, if we can’t make it, we can’t make it, we’ll just have to cut some more.
Well, the counterfeiter didn’t figure it that way. He figured that if he couldn’t go, why should we be able to go? So when he left that morning, he gave a statement to the San Diego Police Department that he gave us the blades and everything, and we were attempting a jail break, all with the understanding that they wouldn’t charge him with nothin’.
The lieutenant walked down that afternoon and went straight to the window, seen the cuts and everything, so they put us all in the cell on the end and started searchin’ cells. They already knew who did it from the statement the guy made. I guess they were just trying to keep anybody from knowin’ that he had told on us.
Anyway, they charged us with attempted jail break. They put us in the hole, which was very bad. There’s no toilet in the cell, just a cement floor and that’s it. I had to go to the bathroom, so I kept askin’ the deputy comin’ by if I could get out to use the rest room. He says no, he says, “Piss on the floor, punk.” There was little tomato cans outside of the bars full of spit and cigarette butts and everything, so I pulled one of them up to my bars and lifted it up a little higher by workin’ it up the bars to where I could go to the bathroom in it. And this deputy kept walkin’ by about every ten minutes, ’cause they got people in there for escape risks and fightin’, and they also got the people in there that’s gonna try to kill theirselves. So he has to come by every ten minutes to make sure nobody’s hangin’ theirself or nothin’. So when he walks by — why I did it I don't know, I just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t let me use the rest room —well, I picked this can up and threw it all over the deputy. He just kept on walkin’, and about five minutes later he came back with three bigger deputies, and they opened the door, came inside, and just started to beat the hell out of me. And they did a pretty good job of it. They mostly hit me in the back and stomach and the top part of my legs. Didn’t leave very many marks, but they sure did some damage on the inside.
From there I went over to the county jail downtown, and I was there about seven months, and they gave me Youth Authority, but the Youth Authority I went to was considered a state prison.
This is 1968. It was the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California, and it was considered Gladiator School. That’s what all the inmates called it. There was prob’ly 2400 people there, and thirty of ’em were Youth Authority offenders. The rest were adults. So thirty of the roughest Youth Authority inmates they put in this place to be able to control ’em.
This was my first encounter with the Aryan Brotherhood and the Mexican Mafia, the Black Guerrilla Family, and the Nuestra Familia — all them prison gangs. The Aryan Brotherhood originated mostly as a racial organization. It was mostly white men that wanted to just stay with the white people, didn’t want to have no contact whatsoever with any other race. The Mexican Mafia was puttin’ pressure on the other Mexicans as far as money and drugs and havin’ their visitors bring drugs in and everything, so the other Mexicans organized the Nuestra Familia as a way to protect theirselves against the Mexican Mafia. And the BGF, the Black Guerrilla Family, is just an organization of nothin’ but blacks, and they don’t like anybody. They get along with the Nuestra Familia, and they do contracts for each other. If the Nuestra Familia wants to hit an AB or a Mexican Mafia member, the BGF will hit him for them for pay, and that’ll keep the heat off the ones the correctional officers know should have done the hit.
I was in Youth Authority for about a year and had a real good friend from Paramount, by L.A., kind of by Long Beach, Lakewood, that area. Me and Skip were almost like brothers because in that environment, you find somebody that you get along with, you get real close. Under that tense situation of a prison life. For a little over a year, we were together the whole time, just about.
I was down to my last three days of getting out, and we were orderlies in the wing we were in. That’s like a janitor. There was this white officer named McGee that didn’t like me and Skip. See, McGee was afraid of black people. Whenever a toilet would overflow or anything, he would pick a white person to clean it up because he felt if he picked a black person, the black person would scream that he was picking him because he was black. And McGee was afraid of bein’ called prejudiced. So he was always pickin’ me and Skip to do cleanin’ up of the toilets overflowin’, and any of the dirty works, you know? So he knew that we knew that he was afraid of black people, afraid to ask them to do it because they would scream at him or jump on him. And by us knowin’ the way he was, he hated our guts. The man shouldn’t have been a correctional officer. He was too insecure.
So about three days before I was to get out, we were out on the yard, and Skip come up to me. He was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, he was the one that got me interested in it. He come to the yard and told me that his cellmate, who was a convicted murderer, had been eatin’ his cookies and stuff when Skip was out on the yard. So he kicked the cellie’s ass, and he told me, “If I go back in there, and he’s smoked my cigarettes or something without my permission. I'm gonna jump on him again.’’ Well, this friend of mine was one of the most dangerous white men in this prison. He was a member of AB, a professional boxer, he could handle hisself pretty good. Nobody bothered him at all, ever. Up until this time.
That night we went back to the units, came out to take a shower, and Skip told me he had jumped on his cellmate again. Well, we used to eat breakfast every mornin' together. I’d wait for him downstairs, or he’d wait for me. The next morning, I come out to wait for breakfast, but Skip don’t come out of his cell and down the steps. I look up at his cell and I see newspapers covering his window. So I ask the deputy, could you let the guy out of 244, he must have got locked in for breakfast. He says there was a killing in 244 last night. So right away I jumped to the conclusion that Skip killed his cellie.
Come to find out, Skip had beat his cellie up again that night after we got back from the shower, and during TV time, his cellie went down to the captain’s office and told the captain, “If you don’t get me out of the cell with that guy, I’m gonna kill him.“And the captain says, “Oh, you ain’t gonna kill anybody, asshole, go on back to your cell. It’s just a little old disagreement, you ain’t killin’ nobody over it.”
He went back to his cell, and that night while Skip was asleep, he picked up the wooden stool that they had, and he beat Skip in the head with it and knocked him out. Then he took a razor blade and just started cuttin’ him to pieces. Skip woke up during the time he was bein’ cut on and tried to fight back, and by doing so, he made the blood flow too quick, is what I was told, and he bled to death in his cell.
That next morning, when I found out it was Skip that was killed, it pretty much tore me to pieces. Like I said, he was like a brother to me. So I went back to my cell, and I was layin’ there, and McGee that didn’t like us to begin with came down and opened my door and told me to go get a bucket of hot water and some rags and go to 244 and clean the blood off the walls and the floor. I told him I’m not goin’ nowhere near that cell and I’m not cleanin’ up nothin’. He told me if I didn’t do it, he’d take my release date from me, and I wouldn’t go home in three days. I told him to take my release date and shove it up his ass. I told him that if I gotta do something like that to get out, then I don’t want out. I told him Skip was like a brother to me, he was my best friend, but McGee knew all this. There’s no way I’m gonna go clean the blood off the walls.
Two other AB members was watchin' all this happen. The deputy went back and wrote me a CDC 115, that’s like a felony write-up in prison. These two AB members come up to me and said, “Why don’t you just go up to the cell, we’ll go in and clean it up, and McGee will think you did it.” They said Skip wouldn't want you to lose your release date over somethin’ like this. But I refused to do it. I would not go up there. So they talked to me for about twenty minutes, and McGee came back another time and threatened me again, and they finally told me, “Come on man, let’s go up there, and we’ll clean the blood off.”
So I went up and stood by the cell door, and they opened that cell door, and I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. And I couldn’t take it. I think that moment right there was the moment that turned me cold inside. I’m not sayin’ I wasn’t a little cold already, but I think that moment right there when I looked in that cell and seen my best friend’s blood was the moment that I turned cold. I’ve never hated another man in my life as much as I hated that officer McGee for having me up there doin’ this.
The two AB members cleaned the blood off the walls and floor, and I went to the yard that day. We were sittin' on the yard with the gun towers all around us. We're just settin’ there, ’cause a friend of ours was killed needlessly, and it could have been prevented, and it wasn't. So we're sittin’ on the yard in a little group of people, and there’s another little group of white people across from us, and one of ’em says to the other one, “Yeah, did you hear about that guy gettin’ killed last night? He musta been a snitch.”
Well, that was all it took to tick us off. We got up, me and two other guys that knew Skip from Paramount. We got up and jumped on these two guys that were doin’ the talkin’. They didn’t even know Skip, they just jumped to the conclusion that he was killed because he was a snitch. So we jumped on ’em. And the goon squad came runnin’ out. They’re the biggest correctional officers at the institution, there for no other purpose except to search, escort, prevent, and stop disturbances. The goon squad came out there, and the gun towers shot a couple times around us, and we’re layin’ flat on our stomachs in the yard. They handcuffed us and then took us to the hole.
The captain already knew about McGee havin’ us clean the cell, how he found out I have no idea. But when he found out I was in the hole, he called us to his office. He asked what’s the problem. He says he thought we were tryin’ to get into a fight so we’d be sent to the hole, to get to the guy that killed Skip. And kill him. Which was not true. So the captain asked why I jumped on these guys in the yard. I told him what the guys said, and I told him about Skip and me bein' best friends, like brothers. He knew about McGee. So he was pretty sympathetic toward the way I was feeling, ’cause like I say, the death of this guy just completely did somethin’ to me inside. Somethin’ inside of me died. And it's taken a long time for it to ever come back to life again. So I was pretty upset and I guess he knew it, so he told me he wasn't gonna take my release date for this. “What I’m gonna do is send you back to your cell, and you stay in that cell for a couple days, and then you go home.” So I stayed in my cell.
Two days went by, and usually when a person gets out of jail or prison, all his friends are there to say good-bye, and it’s kinda like a happy occasion for a few minutes. Well, this day I got out it was happy, but somethin' was missin’. I was leavin’ a lot behind that I wanted to take with me, but I had to leave it. Bein’ young, the associations you make in prison are real close. Quite a few people were like family to me. And they were all members of the Aryan Brotherhood. So all of my friends and Skip’s friends shook hands with me, and I left, and they took me to a bus depot in Tracy, California, and put me on a bus to San Diego. Early 1969. They gave me five dollars, a bus ticket, and told me don’t get in trouble no more and have a good life. But that’s not easy to do when a man gets out a prison and all he’s got is a five-dollar bill.
l started associatin’ with people in L.A. that were Aryan Brotherhood members. I traveled up there on weekends and even started hangin' around with guys who were neo-Nazis. And I started gettin’ involved in narcotics. Heroin and cocaine and that kinda thing. About the middle of ’69, I sold fifty-three grams of heroin to an undercover narcotics agent. They didn’t arrest me at the time. I guess they wanted to serve an indictment. I sold to the same agent a week later a thousand hits of LSD that was not LSD. It was Kool-Aid in capsules I had filled up. And he paid $1000 for that.
I was usin’ heroin quite a bit at the time, and I was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood now. And to become a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, everybody has to vote you in. Well, I was made a member, voted in. The Aryan Brotherhood is a violent organization. They’ve done a lot of killings, quite a lot of killings. My thing was mostly drugs. I was like a connection for heroin.
I was in a bar in Pacific Beach called the Billiard Den, and next to the bar was a car that was used by a dealer to transport drugs, waiting to be picked up. And in this car was 200,000 assorted pills, some heroin, some weed, and the car was bein’ watched. See, a day or two prior to this, a friend of mine shot and killed a friend of his inside the Billiard Den. And this got the police there constantly harassing everybody. Well, I needed a ride to my grandmother’s house in Ocean Beach. I had a quantity of heroin that I needed to take to somebody, so I asked the guy that owned this car for a ride. We drove off, and police officers came from everywhere and stopped us. So they picked me up on this car thing, and they threw me in jail for possession of everything in the car. My bail was $50,000 or something. I was bailed out of jail on my twentieth birthday. I was downstairs dressin’ out, puttin’ on my clothes to go home for my birthday. And the deputy come down and told me somebody wanted to interview me. They were two narcotics agents.
They said, “You’re goin' home, huh?”
“Yeah, I just got bailed out.”
They said, “Well, you’re not goin’ nowhere, asshole. We’re servin’ you with two indictments for sales, one for heroin and one for sales in lieu of narcotics,” for sellin’ ’em Kool-Aid. So they jacked my bail up to half a million dollars, and there was no way I could make a half-a-million-dollar bail. So I stayed in jail.
I pled guilty, and they suspended all my criminal proceedings and sent me to the California Rehabilitation Center as a narcotics addict. I stayed there prob’ly about eleven months in 1970, but I was in jail all together that time about two years. Downtown county jail and the California Rehabilitation Center. I got out in March of 1971, came back to San Diego, and I was livin’ in Lakeside. Workin' for my dad, redoin’ hardwood floors.
I hadn’t seen my first wife. Sherry. Her mother committed suicide, and last I heard of Sherry, she was livin’ in Switzerland. I got married for the second time in May of ’71. A lady I'd met because my dad was interested in her mother. My dad was livin’ with her mother at the time, and it was another of them love at first sights.
I was out about nine days in March, 1971, and I was drivin’ down the street, coming from a gas station. I wasn’t drinkin’, I wasn’t usin’ drugs or nothin’, and I got in a car wreck. I was comin’ around a curve in a Corvair, and another guy comin’ the opposite direction was on my side of the road. Well, I swerved to keep from hittin’ him and hit the dirt on the road and ran into the side of his car. His car veered off and hit a pedestrian walkin' down the street. It killed her, drug her down to the corner. I didn’t know that anybody’d been hit, but I got out of the car and ran, because I didn’t have a license and I didn’t want to get in trouble. I ran, hid all night, they were huntin’ me, had my picture on TV and everything. Manslaughter and hit-and-run. So I turned myself in. I was on parole at the time, and my parole officer said he wouldn’t put me in jail on a parole hold, let’s just see what they do in court.
When this happened, I pretty much stopped my drug dealings with the AB because the heat was on me, and they didn’t want to take a chance on the fact that the police were watchin’ me and might be able to confiscate a bunch of drugs that would cost them a lot of money. So we didn’t do no dealin’ for a while.
I got county time for hit-and-run driving and vehicular manslaughter, and I went to honor camp. But while I’d been out on bail awaiting the trial, I picked up a charge of forgery for cashing bad checks. I was in honor camp for a year for the hit-and-run driving and a year for the forgery, running consecutive. After about two months, they called me in to interview me. I had two years’ county time but also had a parole hold. So he was tellin’ me I had to do my two years’ county time, then I had to go back to prison on the parole violation. Well, when I found this out, that night I escaped.
We were at Barrett Honor Camp out by Cuyamaca, and me and my stepbrother, who was in for attempted burglary and resisting arrest, told these other inmates that we were goin’ out to meet our wives and pick up a bunch of drugs, so that during count time, they’d hop from bunk to bunk, and the Man wouldn’t know we were gone. And we'd give them some drugs for doin’ this. Well, we had no intentions of comin’ back. But all night long, from about eight at night to seven the next mornin’, these inmates hopped from bunk to bunk to cover for us.
It took us three days through the mountains to get back to El Cajon from Barrett Honor Camp. But we finally got there, I got my wife, and we went to Arizona. She was a little surprised to see me because she didn’t know I was plannin’ on escaping.
In Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, I was workin' for a drillin’ company. This was from about July until maybe October of 1971.1 was doin’ no crime while I was workin’ for the drillin’ company, but when I first got to Arizona, I robbed a coupla gas stations to keep us in money. Robberies are the fastest and easiest way there is to get money for a thief. After you know what you’re doin’ and you don't allow the person you're robbin' to get a weapon, you're pretty much home free. But you always gotta keep it in the back of your mind that if they get a gun, they’re gonna shoot you, because they’re in the right. The money was good, and the feelin’ you get is like a big surge of adrenalin, it seems like on Christmas opening a big present and getting just exactly what you wanted. You’re excited while you’re openin’ it, and as soon as you get what you want, all that excitement turns into a feelin' of happiness.
Me and my stepbrother were arrested in Arizona at the end of 1972, and we stayed in jail in Prescott for about a month. Then we waived extradition, and San Diego came and picked us up. I stayed in San Diego County jail about ten months, and then they sent me to prison. The judge gave me five years to life for the sales of heroin, six months to fifteen years for forgery, one to ten years for possession of drugs, and six months to five years for hit-and-run driving, all runnin’ consecutively. So I had about eight years, nine months before I could even go to the parole board to find out if I was gonna get out. When I went to prison, my wife moved to Georgia, and we got divorced a few years later.
I went to Chino. While 1 was in Chino, I was workin’ in the hospital givin’ shots. And I had access to weapons. Knives, scissors, stuff like that. So I was back in with the AB. The southern prisons in California are run pretty much by the Mexican Mafia and the Aryan Brotherhood. I was supplyin’ weapons to members, just knives, and I gave some weapons to members to make a hit on some black guys in one of the units. The hit they were gonna make backfired. The hit man’s name was Spider, he was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood for a long time, and he was caught with the knives in his cell. So him and his cellmate were thrown into the hole, and we didn’t know who the blacks were, so we couldn’t take care of it for ’em. They sent Spider to San Quentin.
I stayed in the Reception and Guidance Center about three months. The guidance center is where everybody in Southern California goes to be evaluated, and from there they send you to whichever prison they think you should go. They sent me to Soledad North. They got Soledad North, Soledad South, which is a minimum-security facility, and Soledad Central. North at the time was mostly a lockdown situation for ex-gang members.
I was there about a couple weeks and was playing pinochle with some Hell’s Angels and some other AB members, and all of a sudden, they locked down the whole institution. They told everybody to hit their cells and shut the doors and everything. So I got to my cell and shut the door, and the goon squad came to the cell next to me with the doctors. There was a Mexican Mafia member in the cell next to me, and they’d killed him. The Mexican Mafia had done the actual killing of its own member. Why, I don’t know. The^l cut his throat and disemboweled him and laid pieces of him all over the cell. It was a pretty gruesome thing. That’s why they locked up the institution.
So we stayed locked up for prob’ly a week and a half, ten days, then they let us out. Well, you keep a man locked up in a little cell — they were single cells at the time — for ten days, feeding him sack lunches they would drop on the floor and step on until they were flat enough to get under the door, the apples, sandwiches, and cake, all smashed together, you do this for ten days to 2000 men, and you’re gonna have 2000 angry men. Two days after they let us out, three correctional officers were killed. So they locked us back down again.
I had been sentenced under an 1168, that’s where the . judge has jurisdiction over you for four months and can call you back and cut you loose, or whatever. Well, when me and my stepbrother was extradited from Arizona, I had gave ’em a little information on a homicide that happened a long time ago. They had tried to charge me with it but later on found out I was nowhere around there, so they couldn’t make the charge stick. I didn't know hardly nothin' about it. but I gave ’em a little information thinkin' it would help me at sentencing. Well, the judge sentenced me to all that time anyway, but under an 1168, like I said. So they called me out of my cell during the lockdown one day, to pack my stuff over at R&R, receiving and release, and go back to court.
So I get back to court, and I find out later that the reason the judge sentenced me under the 1168 was because when I went to trial for selling the fifty-three grams of heroin, the evidence was only three grams of heroin. So there was fifty grams of heroin that disappeared from the police property room, or wherever, or was never put in it. The narcotics officer that was testifying against me was doin' a lot of lyin’ and was bein’ coached by the D.A. Well, two Aryan Brotherhood members in National City knew this same narcotics officer was still out on the street tryin’ to make buys from ’em. They figured that if they could set up a buy with him, they could rip him off for the money and at the same time kill him and his friend and bury them. That would get us off from the sales charges, and they would make money and get rid of the cops at the same time. I had no prior knowledge of this, but anyway they had two graves dug and were gonna kill these two officers. It turned into a shoot-out in National City, and a cop got shot in the back, but nobody got killed. They had to postpone my trial for four weeks until the officer that got shot was able to come into the courtroom and testify. Well, he came into the courtroom all taped up and everything, and the D.A. asked him if, to his knowledge, did I know the people that shot you? Right away he says yes. But my attorney objected because this had no bearing on the case, so they struck that from the transcript. But the jury had already heard it, and they assumed I was the one behind it. So this is why I got so much time. They thought I had something to do with the attempted hit on this narcotics officer. Which I didn’t. These AB members did it on their own.
So they brought me back to San Diego and released me on probation — I think just to clean up their own mistakes durin’ the trial, plus the heroin disappearin’ from the evidence. I guess that’s why the judge let me out.
I stayed out on probation for six months. I started dealin’ a lot of heroin and using a lot of heroin, runnin’ heroin to L.A. and runnin’ the border north out of Mexico. All we did was, we had two women with us, and they would take the heroin and stick it up inside of them, so if the car was searched, nothing would be found.
I did a lot of narcotics trafficking for the Aryan Brotherhood. And the AB makes a lot of money on drugs, I'm talkin’ hundreds of thousands of dollars on drugs, each year. I would be willing to venture that they make way over a million dollars a year on drugs alone. But I have no proof. There’s a hierarchy organized sorta like the army, with generals, colonels, and soldiers. The soldiers do most of the stuff and hardly see any of the money.
I ended up using quite a bit of the drugs I was trafficking in and ended up runnin’ from my parole officer. They were after me for parole violations, and they picked me up in El Cajon. Burglary, receiving stolen property, carrying a concealed weapon. Well, I was back in prison again. 1973. I went to San Quentin, and from there I went to Soledad.
Back in prison, there was quite a bit of violence between the AB members against each other. See, back then most of the violence was occurring from the Nuestra Familia and the Mexican Mafia. But then all of a sudden everyone was killin' their own members. It was because of the money situation. Everybody wanted a piece of the money, but most people didn’t want to share what money they had.
While I was in there, this Spider, the one that got caught with the knives, was also in there, for a parole violation and some weapons charges. Now one aspect of the AB is that everything is for the Aryan Brotherhood; if you’ve got your own personal interests, you better not let ’em influence your takin’ care of business for everybody else. 'Cause if you do, it’s gonna cost you dearly. Well, Spider wanted his own little money-makin’ thing, and he had some ideas of his own, and they didn’t agree with him. They told him, you take care of business for us first and do your own thing second. But he told ’em in so many words to kiss his ass. He wanted to create his own little organization by using his AB contacts for his own personal business, which they didn’t agree with at all.
The AB let him stay there for ten months, and he was gettin’ ready to go home. And then he was called to R&R to try on his dress-out clothes to make sure they fit so he’d have somethin’ to wear when he got out. I think he had six days before he got out. He went to R&R and came back. And there were two AB members waiting for him. One of ’em on the tier as a tier tender, name was Gordy, and when Spider came back, he walked past Gordy, and Gordy pushed him against the bars to Bill, another AB member who was in a cell. I was about four cells down and watched all this happen. Well, Bill grabbed Spider by the hair and pulled his head against the bars, and Gordy stabbed him sixty-three times in the chest with a homemade knife about nine inches long made of angle iron. Killed him. And Bill was stabbing him in the back repeatedly at the same time. He was stabbed eighty-four times or somethin’. He was dead before he was let go. They came in and picked Spider up, and it looked like he was shot a number of times in the chest with a shotgun.
It was just mush. Gordy and Bill wanted him to die. And while they had him on the ground, they still stabbed him, and they spit on him and told him, “Die, motherfucker.’’ That’s how cold-blooded some of these people are. Spider did go home, but he never knew it.
I went to Soledad Central soon after Spider was killed, and this was when I started thinkin' I didn’t want to be in the AB any longer. They were startin’ to kill each other over no reason, the guy just wanted to make a little money for hisself and his family, and instead of lettin’ him do it, they kill him. But they let him sit there all that time thinkin' that he was in good standing, and they waited until he was gettin’ ready to go home before they did the killin’. I guess they figured that was the best way to make him suffer the most.
So I was at Soledad Central with Juan Corona, Sirhan Sirhan, the Onion Field killers, all those guys. And I got out in January of 1977. I moved to Oxnard, and I was packin' a lot of drugs that were bein’ picked up at my house and ran to Folsom Prison and San Quentin. I was packin' heroin into balloons, and two AB members and a prostitute would pick up the drugs every Friday. They would take ’em to Folsom and San Quentin, and the prostitute would put ’em up inside her and give them to the inmates she was visitin'. They would swallow the balloons and take them into the prison.
I was sandin’ floors for my dad. My wife at the time never questioned me. She knew I was doin’ illegal things, but she just let me do whatever I wanted to do. We did this for about ten months. I was paid good, had quite a few cars, and furniture, I was doin’ pretty good.
My sister’s ex-husband was a friend of mine, and the Aryan Brotherhood asked me to kill him. Because that way they know you're loyal to them. If somebody’s to be hit, they usually get a personal friend or family member to do the hit, and that way they know you’re really loyal to the Aryan Brotherhood because you did this hit. Well, I refused to do the hit, and instead I warned him. His name was Richard. At the time, he was in jail for possession of heroin. But when I didn’t do the hit, I posted bail for him instead and brought him to my house in Oxnard.
I had three brand-new .357 Magnum pistols that belonged to the Aryan Brotherhood. I had about a half-ounce of heroin, about four pounds of weed and about $3400 cash. The weed was mine, the rest of it belonged to the Aryan Brotherhood. Well, I left the house for about two hours one day, and when I came back, Richard had stolen everything except the weed.
This put me in a bad situation because the Aryan Brotherhood, as far as they’re concerned, it may have been him that did the actual rippin' off, but it was my fault that it happened because I had him in my home. Of course, I never explained any of this to the AB. All they knew was that they were out the drugs and the money. And the only way they can retaliate against somethin’ like this is to make a hit on me.
Okay, I know the way they operate. If you rip ’em off, you’re gonna get killed. If you snitch on ’em, they’re gonna kill you if they can find you. I figured I at least oughta get somethin’ out of ’em so they’d have a good reason to be after me. So what I did was call an AB connection in San Diego, and I told her I have a guy here showing me the money, but he won’t front the money, and I don’t want to bring a stranger to your house, but he wants eight ounces of heroin, and can I come pick it up, and Friday I will return and give you the money. So they say all right. At the time I was well trusted. I could get anything I wanted fronted to me without no money because I always kept my word. I planned to sell the heroin and use the money to hide from these guys for quite a while. I took the eight ounces of heroin and put eight ounces of lactose in it to make sixteen ounces of stuff. But I eventually ended up usin’ more myself than I'd planned on.
But I’m gettin’ ahead of myself. I drove to San Diego that evenin', picked up the eight ounces of heroin, and went back to Oxnard, packed all my stuff up, and moved. The next mornin’ I was sittin’ in a parkin’ lot in Lakeside, wonderin’ where in the hell I'm gonna hide from these guys. Taking the heroin was like steal in’ directly from the AB.
Three months go by, and there was an AB member who got out of Soledad or San Quentin, one or the other, and moved down to Spring Valley. I think he was originally from Fresno. They called him German. I knew him pretty good, not real good. Well, some motorcycle gang members got a hold of him. He had ripped off one of the AB connections for a half-ounce of stuff, heroin. I had ripped them off for eight ounces. Well, the way they got even with this guy was, they cut his throat, tied a rope around his neck, and drug his body around a high school parkin’ lot until his head popped off. So this right there sealed the fact that I was through with it completely. I had no choice anyway, but this just kind of made my mind up that much more. I was out of the Aryan Brotherhood, and I didn’t want to run across any of its members for the rest of my life.
I had it pretty good for a few months. I married my third wife in '78. My wife was pregnant. We went to the swap meet in Spring Valley, and I was doin’ some dealings with a guy for some turquoise rings, and I looked up and there was an AB member in front of me, and one on each side of me a few yards away staring at me. I recognized these guys instantly. So I knew that if I didn’t get away, I was gonna die as soon as I left the crowd. I told my wife to go get in my truck and go home. She knew pretty much that when I told her to do something seriously, she did it. She knew there might be some people who wanted to get even with me. She never knew none of the illegal shit I did or none of that, but she knew I did do it.
Well, I ran out of the Spring Valley swap meet, down into a shopping center. They shot at me three times, and I have no idea how I did it, but I ran from the middle of that swap meet in Spring Valley and I ended up standing next to the lemon in Lemon Grove, and I don’t know how I got there. But they didn’t catch me.
I took my pregnant wife to her mother’s house, and we stayed there a couple days, and then I left. I couldn't have her with me. If somethin' had happened to her and the baby, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. So I left her there, and everybody assumed that I left her because I didn’t want her and I couldn’t handle the responsibilities of a child and everything, which was as far from the truth as you can get.
I stayed out of jail, using drugs and everything until the last part of 1978. when I was arrested. I was charged with receiving stolen property and burglary. I went to state prison again. Because of the AB contract out on me, I was in protective custody in Soledad for about three years, then Chino for the last part, and I got out December 9, 1981. I moved to Ontario, up near Riverside, because everybody I knew in San Diego was mixed up with the AB. and I didn’t want to run across ’em. So I stayed in Ontario, met a woman, fell in love with her. I'm still with her, as a matter of fact, to this day. We stayed in Ontario about a year, and then we moved to Phoenix, and we stayed there for about ten months, then I came back to San Diego. San Diego drew me like a magnet. So I get back here and started usin’ drugs again, after I was here awhile. All the AB members in San Diego was in jail. So the people I was gettin’ the drugs from weren’t after me. As long as they could make money off me, they would leave me alone. That was the Mexican Mafia.
I dealt in drugs with ’em for a while, and then I was picked up for petty theft. I stole a pack of meat from Food Basket. And with my criminal record, that petty theft was turned into petty with a prior and made a felony. I went to prison, in Vacaville.
But before I went to Vacaville, there was a killing here in San Diego involving the Mexican Mafia. Three members of the Mexican Mafia killed three Mexicans in a body shop in Chula Vista. It was supposedly a drug rip-off, there was supposed to have been cash and drugs at the scene, but from what I understand, all that was ever gotten was an ounce of heroin, and that was it. But three people were executed gangland style, their hands were tied behind their backs, and they were shot in the back of the head. The fourth person ran from the scene after bein’ stabbed in the back of the leg, them tryin’ to make him tell where the money was. He was shot in the back but managed to get away.
These three Mexican Mafia members who did the killing were people that I was dealin’ drugs with, in May of 1985. After I was arrested, the San Diego gang squad from the sheriffs office asked me if I knew where these members of the Mexican Mafia might be. Well, two of ’em I said were prob’ly in L.A., which they were, they were arrested there about five months later. The other member was s’posed to be in Mexico.
But come to find out. he stayed right here in San Diego and dealt drugs, right in his same neighborhood for close to a year. Somebody finally turned him in for a $1000 reward.
So I went to Vacaville, and while I was there, the Special Service Unit from the California Department of Corrections, the correctional gang cops is what they are, asked me if I'd be willin’ to talk to homicide about these guys. The killin’s happened at night, and the morning prior to that. I had seen the Mexican Mafia members, and I’d seen the weapons and the knife. So they wanted me to talk to homicide about these weapons. But at first I refused to, because the Aryan Brotherhood had pretty much left me alone now, and I didn’t want to heat up the fire again and have 'em after me even worse than ever. So then they come and tell me, “We can promise you that you'll get to go to work furlough, and you'll get out and be released if you cooperate.” So I said all right. I’d talk to homicide.
So San Diego homicide came up to Vacaville to see me. The reason I was in Vacaville was a medical reason. When they’d arrested me on the warrant for petty with a prior, they beat me up pretty bad. They kicked me in the groin, and I was in the hospital five times. So San Diego homicide comes to Vacaville, and I talked to the homicide officer, and he said he was going to give the information to the district attorney, and if the D.A. thinks it’s good, then would you be willing to talk to them? I said yeah, if I get out. Okay.
So the attorney from the D.A.’s office and his investigator come up to Vacaville and talk to me for a couple hours. Put it all on tape. I gave information about the weapons and phone conversations I'd had with them. And the D.A. tells me. okay we're gonna think about it, and if we decide to use you in the trial, we'll call you down there. And what do you want for doin' this? I told 'em I wanted to be released and I want protection and relocated with my family and start a whole new life. I don't want to be around none of this stuff no more. He says okay, we can’t promise you nothin’, but trust us, because we’re not gonna screw you over. So okay, if that’s all I can do, that’s all I can do.
About a month later, they released my name under the discovery law to the attorneys for the Mexican Mafia members, which is the same as releasin' it to the Mexican Mafia. Well, those attorneys subpoenaed me down here, tryin’ to intimidate me when they saw that the D.A. was going to use me as a witness against them. The Mexican Mafia threatened my family, they threatened my wife, me, my brothers, my sister, everybody. They tried to get a guy to attack me on the roof of the county jail, where they have an exercise yard. Knives were bein’ moved, but luckily that day, I didn’t wake up to go to the roof with everybody else.
So the Mexican Mafia put money on my head. From what I hear, there’s a $10,000 price for anybody that kills me. So the district attorney moved me from the downtown jail to the South Bay jail. I was in the South Bay jail for three or four months. I originally came down here from Vacaville last December. My release date was s’posed to be June 15 of this year. But by my helping the district attorney and cooperating and putting my life on the line and havin’ this contract out on me now, all I accomplished from doin’ all this was I did sixty-two extra days. I didn’t get out till August 15.
I can’t go back to jail now, and I can’t live on the wrong side of the law, which is good. But the fact is, a lot of doors are closed to me because of my criminal record. And I try to turn to the right side of the law for help, but all those doors are closed, too. Because the district attorney hasn’t kept to anything he even implied he was gonna do. They haven’t done anything for me, they haven't helped me at all, and I'm stuck in this situation. So my future's pretty much anybody’s guess. But I’m not goin’ back to jail, where I could be killed easier than I could be on the streets.
The trial is supposed to be in November, and from what I know, they’re gonna call me to testify, but what am I gonna get for it? I’ve already done my time, I can’t get out of jail for doin’ it. As far as my safety, they’re not givin’ me any funds to even have a place to live. Right now as I do this, there are very few places I can go to feel safe. I’m sittin’ down by the ocean, lookin’ out the front window of my car as I record this. I can only wait until November and find out what they’re gonna do about this. But in the meantime, all I can do is try to stay alive.
X is a pseudonym for a San Diego convict. Some of this narrative may be fictionalized.