Gang Peacemaker Alex Sanchez Finally Released on Bail

Glad to see that finally former MS13 member turned eacemaker Alex Sanchez has finally been allowed to make bail. This brother for as long as I’ve known him as been trying to spark peace and at every turn he’s run into serious resistence from the powers that be.. It’s almost like folks were resentful that he was doing the work in the community that was needed, or even worse, he was doing it better than many law enforcement outlets  that have been able to garner milions and millions of dollars  and craft all sorts of ‘tough laws’ .
-Davey D-
BREAKING NEWS: Alex Sanchez Granted Bail
January 13th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Alex Sanchez is one of the most respected gang intervention leaders in the country. LA Police Chief Richard Bratton has been jealous and been targeting Sanchez for years.

Around 11:30, at the end of the closed hearing that began at 10 a.m. Alex Sanchez attorney Kerry Bensinger came out of the courtroom to talk to Sanchez family and a very, very small handful of supporters, whom he drew into a side room and broke the news. There were many tears.

Bail is set at $2 million. It is to be divided into $1 million in properties, $1 million in sureties.

Since Sanchez supporters have already gathered $1.4 million in property, and $1 million in sureties, “it’s only a matter of the paperwork,” said Monica Novoa, a Homies Unidos board member who is very close to the family and thus was in the room.

Understandably, there will be stringent restrictions, which have been agreed upon but not been spelled out publicly.

“But all that’s fine,” said Novoa. “We really feel that this is the beginning of a fair trial for Alex. He’ll be able to see his family, meet with his attorney, and work for his own defense. That’s all we ever asked for.”

As to who was inside the closed hearing, there were assuredly LAPD officers. And there was supposed to be someone from inside City Hall, or who someone who works closely with City Hall.

I have heard floating rumors that the City Hall someone may have been City Council Member Tony Cardenas.

If true, this makes a great deal of sense. The mayor’s gang czar Guillermo Cespedes could have been called in but he’d have had little or nothing concrete in the way of personal knowledge to offer as he didn’t take over his post until September and prior to that he was running Summer Night Lights and would have had no reason to deeply interact with Sanchez and the area of town in which the government alleges he was operating.

There is former Jeff Carr, the mayor’s chief of staff who was formerly the gang czar. But Carr, while he had worked with Sanchez, would have been unwise to come down on one side or the other of this very controversy-fraught case because either way he leaned he would risk alienating a group that is important to the mayor.

Cardenas, however, is arguably the most knowledgeable of the three, and has a long-term professional relationship with Sanchez and other gang interventionists due to his multi-year chairmanship of the Council’s Ad-hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development. Thus he was in a position to gather some genuine intel.

Plus, although I have criticized Cardenas plenty of times over the years, I have also known him to also at times show an unusual amount of moral courage when the cameras were turned off and there was nothing to gain.

So, while I don’t know if the mystery City Hall person was Tony Cardenas, he would be my pick for the one whom Judge Real would have been wise to call. Had he been called in, I would like to think he would have told what he believed to be the truth—whatever that truth might be.

Update: Anti-Gang leader Alex Sanchez Denied Bail



We received news that Alex Sanchez was denied bail yesterday. Alex is our comrade, executive director of Homies Unidos, and co-founder of All of Us or None. He was arrested in a federal racketeering conspiracy raid in Los Angeles last week. Alex has been a leader of gang truce efforts in Los Angeles for over ten years. All of Us or None will be working with Homies Unidos and Alex’s friends and family across the nation to win his release on bail.
A website is being launched this week so people can keep updated about Alex and the fight for his freedom:

Alex Sanchez Denied Bail

Prosecution Case Decried as “Weak”

By Tom Hayden
For The Nation

Anti-Gang leader has been framed in trumped up charges and now has been denied bail

Anti-Gang leader has been framed in trumped up charges and now has been denied bail

LOS ANGELES. A federal magistrate today denied Alex Sanchez bail in his gang conspiracy trial as expected, but the prosecution entered a surprisingly “weak” case according to defense counsel.

If the bail denial is endorsed by federal judge Manual Real, an appeal to the US Ninth Circuit Court could take months, keeping Sanchez in federal isolation. His defenders argue that bail denial is a violation of his equal opportunity to participate in his own defense, tipping the scales of justice against the indigent defendant, former gang member and decade-long leader of Homies Unidos, a gang prevention organization highly regarded in juvenile justice circles.

Sanchez appeared in court today chained and shackled, dressed in a white prison uniform. He made brief eye contact with his family and supporters, tapping his heart in a gesture of love and strength. He remained quiet through the proceeding.

In arguing that Sanchez was a danger to the community and a flight risk, the prosecution case revealed the core of its conspiracy case for the first time since Sanchez was arrested at home at 6 a.m last Wednesday.

In the eye of this observer, who has personally experienced and covered many past conspiracy cases, the prosecution’s narrative seemed weaker than others brought during the police and FBI’s long wars against crime, the Left, revolutionaries, anti-war activists and, more lately narco-terrorists and violent gangs. As Father Gregory Boyle argues, the problem is not so much a police conspiracy as a deep ignorance and cultural bias in the ranks of prosecutors and law enforcement. Both a conspiratorial mindset and ignorance seemed on display today, leading Sanchez’ attorney Kerry Bensinger to call the government case “weak” and “laughable.” A notably professional attorney who refuses to argue the case in the media, Bensinger reddened and shook his head at several points during the proceeding.

As evidence that Sanchez leads a “double life” as community healer by day and secret member of a hierarchical racketeering organization [mara salvatrucha] by night, the prosecutors offered the following evidence:

that Sanchez claims to support gang tattoo removal as a path out of the gang life, but has a gang tattoo across his chest. In fact, laser tattoo removal programs, which are painful, lengthy and expensive, are offered only for the hands, wrists, neck or other areas which are barriers to training and employment programs. Fr. Boyle credits Sanchez will helping 250 young people undergo tattoo removal. Sanchez openly admits he was a tattooed member of MS in the 1980s and early 1990s. [As a state senator, I authorized $2 million for tattoo removal programs.]

that Sanchez has a long criminal record. But defense counsel noted that several of Sanchez’s previous convictions have been struck down, and that those which remain are two offenses dated in 1991. Subsequently, Sanchez has not only been exonerated of past offenses in LA Superior Court, but granted political asylum by an immigration judge during the Rampart police scandal in 2002.

That a poem by Sanchez was found in papers taken by police during a house raid several years ago.

That Sanchez appeared in a 2000 photo taken at a gang peace conference in San Francisco, smiling with an associate and posing with gang signs. Attorney Bensinger noted that millions of young people, including his own kids, sometimes throw gang signs without such behavior being criminal.

That several weeks ago, Sanchez and several young men were talking and drinking after a sporting event, when police rolled up and took notes on field identification cards. There were no charges made.

On the most sensational charge of conspiracy-to-murder, the prosecution introduced an LAPD underground officer who wiretapped Sanchez, among others, without the required turning over of transcripts of the actual wiretaps to the defense. Sanchez’ attorney objected to his inability to cross-examine or obtain evidence through discovery. But the officer, Frank Flores, was allowed to take the stand anyway, in support of charges which have yet to be examined. The prosecution argued that the tapes of multiple phone calls around May 5-6, 2006, will reveal arguments, tensions and threats among several gang members, including Sanchez and Walter Lacinos, aka “Cameron”. Sanchez, according to the still-unreleased tape, is quoted as saying “we go to war”, without any further context or quotation. Lacinos was killed the following week in El Salvador by an unnamed MS member, according to the prosecution account.

A sentence such as “we go to war”, without context, could be prophecy, prediction or warning, but is hardly sustainable evidence of ordering a gang killing. The case itself may open up the shadowy world of LAPD collusion with Salvadoran police and the unsolved murders of numerous Homies Unidos members deported back to El Salvador in the past decade.

Many might ask why Sanchez isn’t simply tried for accessory to murder in the proper state or local court. The plain reason is that the evidence would be insufficient. Enter the RICO racketeering conspiracy laws, named after the gangster named “Rico” in an Edward G. Robinson film, which make guilt-by-association the basis of responsibility for concrete “overt” acts. [For example, during the 1969 Chicago conspiracy trial, eight defendants were accused of conspiring to cross interstate lines and carrying “overt acts” in furtherance of said conspiracy. It was not necessary that the eight knew each other. I was charged with the overt act of letting air out of a police car’s tires. Bobby Seale’s overt act was giving a speech in broad daylight. Jerry Rubin, if I recall, was charged with throwing a sweater at a police officer.]

Alex Sanchez will have to show that he was not an active participant in any crime and that his presence on wiretapped conversations was not evidence of murderous intent, and/or that multiple dangers precluded him from just hanging up. It is possible that the tapes themselves will unravel into garbled discussions proving nothing resembling a conspiracy. But the government will refuse to release the tapes for as many months as possible, while Sanchez remains locked away. In the end, the conspiracy may prove to be the LAPD and FBI elements who continue to blame Sanchez for causing them embarrassment in the Rampart scandal a decade ago, when they tried to imprison and deport him.

A movement to demand bail and a fair trial for Alex Sanchez was announced immediately after the bail denial, with the website . Led by Homies Unidos activists, the defense committee released over one hundred letters from Salvadoran community leaders, gang prevention groups from across the country, and an array of clergy including Father Boyle, Rabbi Allen Freehling, Rabbi Steve Jacobs, and Minister Tony Muhammed of the Nation of Islam, who attended the bail proceeding. #

Tom Hayden is a former state senator and author of Street Wars [Verso, 2005]

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner