Reputed prison gangster killed

Times Staff Writer

A reputed member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang was one of two men gunned down in a Pomona sports bar Tues- day night, authorities said.

Frankie “Frankie B” Buelna, 61, of Pomona was shot several times in the torso during a confrontation at Characters Sports Bar on 1st Street.

He was flown to County-USC Medical Center, where he died, said Pomona Police Sgt. Rick Baker.

Enrique Sanchez, 26, of Chino also was shot and killed at the bar. A third man believed to be a bystander was treated at a hospital for gunshot wounds and released, Baker said.


Baker and state prison gang investigators confirmed Buelna’s association with the Mexican Mafia.

Baker said two men entered the busy sports bar shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday and argued with Buelna.

One of the two men pulled a gun and began firing, hitting Buelna and Sanchez. The men then fled in a gold car.

It was unclear Wednesday if Buelna and Sanchez knew each other.


The Mexican Mafia prison gang is known to order Latino street gangs to extort cash, or “tax,” drug dealers in their neighborhoods and funnel the proceeds to Mafia members.

Buelna was reputed to control the activities of Latino gangs from Pomona to Azusa. San Gabriel Valley gang members interviewed by The Times claimed they taxed drug dealers in their areas and sent part of the proceeds to Buelna.

In 2006, he was one of 57 gang members arrested as part of a sweep against Pomona’s 12th Street Sharkeys, a gang with close ties to the Mexican Mafia. The arrests came after the killing of California Highway Patrol Officer Thomas Steiner by one of the gang’s new recruits.

It was unclear Wednesday how that case had been resolved or when Buelna had returned to the streets.


Baker said detectives still knew of no motive for the killing and didn’t know if Buelna’s association with the Mexican Mafia, or drug taxation of street gangs, played a part in his death.

“Detectives are still sorting through interviews and following up on leads and trying to come up with a reason behind whatever happened,” he said.

Pomona police ask that anyone with information about the crime call (909) 620-2085.