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LAPD event with ex-Mexican Mafia leader problematic, report says

City officials were concerned about a meeting arranged by the LAPD between L.A. business leaders and former Mexican Mafia figure Rene Enriquez, shown in prison in 2005.
City officials were concerned about a meeting arranged by the LAPD between L.A. business leaders and former Mexican Mafia figure Rene Enriquez, shown in prison in 2005.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles police did not have the proper authority to remove a convicted killer and former Mexican Mafia shot-caller from custody and take him to a private downtown L.A. event where he addressed business executives earlier this year, according to a report from the LAPD’s independent watchdog issued Friday.

The inspector general’s report found that the court order that the LAPD used to remove Rene “Boxer” Enriquez from an unnamed detention center for the Jan. 28 engagement only allowed him to be released to help with the prosecution of a murder case. Furthermore, the order had not been valid since November 2012, according to the report.

The LAPD spent $22,000 in taxpayer money to prepare and provide security for Enriquez at the event, including a helicopter flight, the report said.

The report provided new details about the controversial meeting, which prompted questions over the use of police resources for a private event attended primarily by wealthy business leaders. After learning of the meeting that evening, the civilian Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD, directed its inspector general to investigate.

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Inspector General Alex Bustamante’s report outlined the elaborate steps the LAPD took to make Enriquez available to members of the Young Presidents’ Organization, an exclusive group of business leaders that had “requested that the LAPD provide access” to the former gang member, who is serving a life prison sentence for two murders.

According to the report, police officials spent weeks planning the event, coordinating three meetings between YPO staff and Enriquez in preparation. An advance team devised multiple possible routes between the detention center where Enriquez was being held and the downtown L.A. building where the event took place. They identified safe houses and developed other countermeasures “in case the operation was compromised.”

Although a command-level officer told Chief Charlie Beck that the event would be a “law enforcement training event,” the report said, it was instead attended by approximately 150 YPO members and only 14 police officials.

The LAPD issued a statement Friday saying that Beck had initiated a personnel complaint investigation into the event “based on the contents of the report.”

The statement offered no other details, except to say that the LAPD’s Professional Standards Bureau would handle that investigation.

Though a convicted murderer, Enriquez, 52, has become a law enforcement darling since leaving the notorious Mexican Mafia prison gang more than a decade ago. He has testified in dozens of criminal cases, putting away other members of the gang, also known as La Eme. He has written books, collaborated on a bestselling biography about his life, and helped teach a class at UC Irvine. He has also spoken at a number of law enforcement conferences and training sessions.

A state board granted Enriquez parole in September, but Gov. Jerry Brown reversed that decision last month. The governor acknowledged the “positive steps” that Enriquez had made and the assistance he has provided authorities, but ultimately determined that Enriquez posed an “an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”

Bustamante’s report confirmed that it was a member of the business organization that suggested Enriquez as a guest speaker and “requested that the LAPD provide access.”

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Follow @katemather for more LAPD news.


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