In a shocking development in the gang world today, the FBI has arrested high-profile anti-gang expert Alex Sanchez at his Bellflower home on federal racketeering charges, according to the Associated Press.

As executive director of the Los Angeles-based, non-profit Homies Unidos, Sanchez has become a nationally-recognized expert in gang intervention–his work has been featured on NPR, in Mother Jones magazine, and through numerous other media outlets. He also once ran with the notorious MS-13 gang. Members from that crime outfit were also arrested by the FBI today.

Sanchez has ties to powerful, local politicians who range from L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.


Unidos is exactly the kind of community-based violence prevention and

intervention program Los Angeles needs to help eliminate its gang

problem,” reads a glowing statement from Garcetti, which has been posted on the Homies Unidos Web site. (Note: The Web site has now been taken down.)

Also on the non-profit's Web site, a recent “Letter from the Executive Director” thanks Los Angeles City Councilmen Ed Reyes and Tony Cardenas for attending a November, 2008, banquet celebrating the 10th anniversary of Homies Unidos.

Sanchez also commends staff members who work for Reyes, Cardenas, and Villaraigosa. The city of Los Angeles, with the help of the mayor's office, officially recognized Sanchez's work with a resolution that was passed by the L.A. City Council.

“Silvia Beltran and George Magallanes from Councilman Ed Reyes office, Michael DelaRocha and Eduardo Hewitt from Councilman Tony Cardenas and Rafael Gonzales from the Mayor's Office were instrumental in helping Los Angeles City Council pass a resolution for Homies Unidos 10 years of work in the city of Los Angeles,” Sanchez writes.

Sanchez became a cause celebre many years ago when

the Los Angeles Police Department unsuccessfully attempted to deport him, with

progressive heavyweight and former California state senator Tom Hayden coming to his aid.

On its Web site, the non-profit's mission statement

states: “Homies Unidos believes in the inherent right of youth,

families and their communities to pursue their dreams and achieve their

full potential in a just, safe and health society.

“For ten

years, Homies Unidos has been a catalyst for change, working to end

violent and promote peace in our communities through gang prevention,

the promotion of human rights in immigrant communities, and the

empowerment of youth through positive alternatives to gang involvement

and destructive behavior.”

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.