A former Mexican Mafia member and key prosecution witness testified Wednesday that he discussed murders and assaults with members of the prison-based gang while working as a government informant.
Ernest “Chuco” Castro was given immunity after working as an undercover informant for the FBI.
Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Atty. Lisa Lench, Castro testified in Los Angeles federal court that he turned over money he received from gang members and drug dealers to authorities.
Castro also said he participated in discussions about authorizing assaults while still an informant.
Castro testified that he was a “major player” in the Mexican Mafia, also known as “La Eme.” His crimes ranged from murder to assault, he said.
“It’s an obligation of being a member of the Eme,” Castro said.
He added that Mexican Mafia members resented the movie “American Me” because they believed it was an unflattering portrayal of the gang.
Defense attorneys have portrayed Castro as a murderous, drug-addicted liar who told authorities what they wanted to hear to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison.
Thirteen alleged Mexican Mafia members are on trial, accused of murder, drug trafficking, extortion and racketeering. The defendants contend that the gang does not exist.
Prosecutors concluded direct examination of Castro Wednesday.