Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck admitted late Thursday that “mistakes were made in holding” a meeting this week in downtown L.A. between a convicted ex-member of the Mexican Mafia, a group of business leaders and local law enforcement officials.
“I have directed the department to more thoroughly review future events before committing LAPD resources,” Beck said in a statement.
The admission came soon after a spokesman for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti criticized the LAPD’s involvement in the event, which featured a former shot caller for the Mexican Mafia prison gang who has been under heavy security since he started cooperating with authorities more than a decade ago. Rene “Boxer” Enriquez is serving a lifelong prison sentence for two murders.
The department has come under fire for arranging an event that used public resources to transport and protect Enriquez for a private meeting set up at the request of a group of business leaders.
“This was inappropriate and should have never happened,” said mayoral spokesman Yusef Robb. “We expect a full accounting of why this occurred and we are going to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.”
L.A. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff has called for an investigation by the department’s inspector general.
Beck’s statement contrasts with the LAPD’s initial defense of the event. On Wednesday evening, Beck said meeting with Enriquez benefited the attendees.
“He offers a perspective on organizations and leadership that is unknown to much of this audience,” Beck said at the time via text message.
At the same time, LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing said police officials were also present and that the meeting helped educate them and private-sector attendees who heard Enriquez speak.
Downing described the meeting as an “LAPD-sponsored event” where attendees listened to the man describe his experience with a “transnational criminal enterprise.”
“He talked about how it grew, how it was branded, how it expanded, how it evolved,” Downing said of the meeting, which he estimated lasted about an hour and a half.