By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Just days before Carlos Velasquez’s arrest last December, federal authorities say, he was plotting an attack against rivals but worried about an increased police presence around Drew Street. So he and his pals tried to hide a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, a Norinco SKS 7.62-mm assault rifle and a Mossberg 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun at an address on Avenue 59 in Glassell Park.
After the cops found and seized the cache of weapons, investigators heard a tapped jail phone call in which Velasquez dutifully reported to his Mexican Mafia boss Aguirre, at the Kern Valley State Prison. Velasquez told Aguirre that police had nabbed his hidden assault rifles — but didn’t find his hidden dope.
Velasquez should not have felt so triumphant. The LAPD wasn’t done with him. The next day, Velasquez and his gang buddy Guillermo Hernandez were arrested for slaying Escalante. Informed by the Weekly that federal authorities believe Escalante was assassinated to avenge the LAPD’s killing of Leon, Escalante’s friend Bottomley says: “If indeed that was true, it doesn’t surprise me. That’s the way they think. We can’t take it personally, even though it hits home.”
Thanks to last month’s raid, the battleground communities of Drew Street, Glassell Park and Cypress Park have been rid of dozens of thugs. Nobody knows if the crackdown will give the area a modest chance to clean itself up, or whether the temporary quiet will soon be replaced with gunfire. But the story of Abel Escalante, at least, will persist.
“Escalante was a victim, whether they targeted him as a gang member or a Latino living in the neighborhood,” says Pastor Catalan. “The courts will sort it out. He was well-loved in the neighborhood. He shined for his determination to not go in that direction.”
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