By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Valdemar had warned higher-ups that Marroquin was a tax collector working for Mexican Mafia members George “Grandpa” Bustamante and Raymond “Huero Shy” Shyrock. (Tax collectors, Valdemar explains, are street enforcers who gather the Mexican Mafia’s cut from drug profits.) Sheriff’s incident reports and DEA investigation reports show law enforcers learned of frequent death threats — both by Marroquin and against Marroquin — involving the Mexican Mafia. In 1998, a Mexican Mafia murder contract was put out on Marroquin that federal prosecutors in Los Angeles considered so believable they instructed DEA agents to warn Marroquin, according to DEA investigation reports.
One key incident places Marroquin in the middle of a complex, deadly gang scenario. According to a Sheriff’s memo generated by Valdemar’s warnings, in August 1998, Marroquin allegedly held a meeting of local gangs at his own home in Lennox, ordering, at the behest of the Mexican Mafia, a “green light” on the Lennox 13 gang — the street equivalent of a license to kill.
One attendee at the meeting was snitch and Lennox 13 gang member Vito “Capone” Medina, who had been taping his phone conversations with Marroquin and talking to federal and local investigators. Medina openly balked at the order to kill members of his own gang, but other gangsters at the meeting immediately went out looking for Lennox 13 members, the memo states.
Over the next 14 days, 20 attacks occurred, including the murders of three Lennox 13 members, according to the confidential sheriff’s memo. Several nights later, on September 5, 1998, Medina’s own Lennox 13 homeboys shot him — in a grim effort to get themselves off the Mexican Mafia’s green-light list, according to the memo. Medina’s shooting led to a search of Marroquin’s house, where police seized stolen guns, cash and notes regarding phone calls from Marroquin to convicted Mexican Mafia members Bustamante and Shyrock — ironically, along with paperwork from No Guns.
Vito Medina, gravely wounded, lived almost six more months. Before he died, on April 2, 1999, he identified the shooters and insisted that Marroquin, as an associate of the Mexican Mafia, ordered his murder, the memo states. The actual gunmen who killed Medina were sentenced to just six years. Marroquin was never charged.
None of this is a mystery to Detective Shonka, who interviewed the fading Medina in a hospital bed. “Because Vito got killed, the whole case went to shit,” she says of the DEA investigation that relied on Medina as a snitch. To Shonka, Marroquin never had to pay: “Hector found out Vito was an informant. He is just a good businessman. I just can’t believe he is still running this No Guns thing. He can sell his little game. He is really scary.”
Patrick Smith, Marroquin’s lawyer, says Medina was pitting Sheriff’s deputies and the DEA against one another while extorting money from innocent former gang members like Marroquin. “Hector was afraid of Medina.”
Valdemar, who pursued gangsters for more than 30 years, can’t get Marroquin off his mind. One encounter, which Valdemar described in a sworn declaration, might help to explain why.
In 2003, as Marroquin was being lavished with funds from L.A. Bridges, Valdemar learned from a gang source of an alleged plan by an East L.A. gang member named Sergio “Cheko” Villa, of the Marianna Maravilla gang, to assemble a team to kill Marroquin over a drug-money dispute. Valdemar, acting in his official capacity as a gang sergeant, met with Marroquin and warned him that his life was in danger — but did not identify Villa by name, in order to avoid possible pre-emptive violence against Villa by Marroquin.
The scene was emotional, Valdemar says: “Hector always has politicians watching his back in the straight world and people on the street doing his dirty work in the criminal world. [So] he was scared.” Weeks later, on November 5, 2003, Cheko Villa was gunned down and killed on a street in Cudahy, assailants unknown. No evidence has surfaced that ties Marroquin to the murder.
Who is Hector Marroquin, touted peacemaker? Local police got another glimpse just last year, in April 2005, when he was arrested on suspicion of robbery, false imprisonment and making criminal threats after allegedly terrorizing a Cudahy youth overdue in paying $4,000 for luxury tires and 22-inch rims Marroquin had sold him. According to the Maywood-Cudahy Police Department report, Marroquin assaulted the youth at a bar Marroquin owns in Cudahy, stole his truck and threatened to kill him and his family. “You’re messing with the Mexican Mafia!” the report quotes Marroquin as shouting. “I run all of Cudahy! I want my money!”
Marroquin denied he stole and sold the teenager’s truck, insisting he merely kept it as collateral. Two months later, as with past cases involving Marroquin, the alleged victim declined to testify. The case went away because, Smith says, “The so-called victim was lying.”
When Los Angeles City Hall finally woke up last May, Marroquin was into his fifth straight year of L.A. Bridges funding, getting about $500,000 per year — a big jump from 2001, when, on a motion by city councilmen Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes, No Guns got its first $45,000 to operate in the Southeast, Southwest and 77th police bureaus as a subcontractor to the Central Recovery Development Project.