Contrary to popular belief, the Mexican Mafia, also referred to as La Eme or The M in Spanish, is a U.S. based crime organization, not a Mexican one. The group formed in 1957 by Luis "Huero Buff" Flores and 13 other Hispanic street gang members from various L.A., California neighborhoods who were all locked up at the Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI), which is now an adult prison.
The gang formed out of necessity for their safety during their stay at the DVI. While warring on the streets was an everyday occurrence between these individuals, Flores was able to form a truce of sorts.
In the beginning, Flores sought to recruit the most violent gang elite and use their criminal skills to put fear in the heart of anyone and everyone in the prison as a means of control. The criminal mastermind wanted to dominate all black market activities at DVI and they did.
By 1961, La Eme's rein of terror was so great it had to be brought to a halt, although brief. In an effort to reduce some of the tension, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) decided to transfer some of EME's more hard core members to adult facilities like the notorious San Quentin Prison.
This change made zero difference and in fact aided the group in becoming an even greater force to be reckoned with.
San Quentin State Prison
While Luis Flores is credited with being the founding father of the group, Ramon "Mundo" Mendoza, Joe "Peg Leg" Morgan and Eddie Gonzales were also notables of the original crew.
The prison super gang was and is comprised of some of the most notorious members from cliques like MS-13 and Florencia 13. These organizations reference the number to prove their alliance as 13 represents the letter M. These "carnales" (brothers) only set their differences aside while in prison and work together to maximize protection for each other and gain the most profit.
Rodolfo Cheyenne "Chy" Cadena, a Mexican Mafia legend was one of the men transferred to San Quentin. According to reports, Cadena arrived at the facility greeted by a 300-pound black prisoner who kissed his cheek and staked his claim to the tiny teen. The livid "Chy" returned later and stabbed the prisoner to death with a shank. Hundreds of witnesses were present but none came forward to testify against him.
"Chy" Cadena and "Peg Leg" Morgan then sought to take the Mexican Mafia to new heights by running drug sales, pornography, prostitution, extortion and murder for hire inside and outside prison walls. Together they recruited members of Hispanic gangs from all over California to carry out their orders.
The ruthless and high ranking Morgan had strong ties to heroin and cocaine distributors in Mexico. His connections aided the group in putting a strangle hold on drug distribution statewide.
Many also credit Morgan with setting up the first hit outside of jail. According to sources, fellow gang member Alfonso "Pachie" Alvarez was taken out for collecting taxes on drug deals without kicking back cash to behind-bars leaders. A big no no.
Mexican Mafia Tattoo
Some other big commandments were also established by leadership.
By the 80s and spilling into the 90s, racial tensions were high throughout the United States and prisons were a microcosm. Prison systems saw a rise in race-based criminal organizations. Crews like the Black Guerilla Family and the Aryan Brotherhood were the more dominant figures.
Although strong in numbers already, the Mexican Mafia had members from every Hispanic organization, they decided to form an alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood, mainly out of common hatred for the Black Guerrilla Family.
Mexican Mafia members are also rivals with the secretly founded gang La Nuestra Familia or "Our Family". They banded together after inmates became fed up with Eme's constant killing and stealing.
In 1992, the crews' story hit the big screen in a movie called American Me. The film depicts 30 years of Chicano gang life in Los Angeles but as one would guess, the film did not sit well with Eme members. Many felt their stories were told without their consent and featured multiple inaccuracies. Two consultants working on the film were murdered after the release although no connection with the gang was ever made.