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City officials get cash, but gangs hold power
Turf battles waged in L.A. County
Cudahy Councilman David M. Silva, the city’s longest-serving council member, freely admits he was one of the targets of the 2001 grand jury investigation, and he voted to approve canceling the contract with the sheriff’s department, which had been engaged in proactive anti-gang policing.
“The sheriff can’t be influenced by city officials,” he said.
Mr. Silva sports a tattoo on his forearm that says, “Mi Vida Loca,” which translates to “My Crazy Life,” a favorite slogan among gang members. But he says that’s just a coincidence.
“I’ve never been a gangbanger,” said Mr. Silva, who explained that he got the tattoo along with a group of friends before shipping off for the Vietnam War.
Although he denies there is a connection between crime and politics, he said he has been the victim of gangland-type violence that has infected the political process in the past decade.
He said his life was threatened in the 2008 election during a call to his cell phone from an unidentified man.
Henry Gonzales, mayor of the neighboring city of South Gate, was shot in the head in 1999 as he returned home from a City Council hearing. At the time, Mr. Gonzalez was known for standing up to the political machine of Treasurer Albert Robles, who went to federal prison in 2005 for bribery and money laundering.
In 2006, the city clerk of Maywood, Hector Duarte, was charged with threatening the lives of two elected officials. He pleaded guilty to one count of making a criminal threat against an official.
In the 2008 election in Cudahy, one candidate had a Molotov-cocktail explode on a truck parked within feet of his home, a rock thrown through his front window, and a menacing visit from a stranger who was driven to and from the candidate’s house by unidentified men in a sedan. Another candidate had her front window pierced by a shot from a pellet gun.
No arrests have been made.
Last year, a narcotics task force arrested two men for operating a methamphetamine “super lab” out of a rental property owned by the mayor of Bell. The mayor was not implicated in the arrests.
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