LAPD wrongly took ex-mafia member out of prison to address businessmen - report

AFP Photo / Michal Czerwonka
Los Angeles police spent $22,000 and weeks of intense, advanced planning to take an ex-mafia member serving two life sentences for murder out of prison so he could address dozens of business leaders – without the authority to do so, no less.

First reported by the Los Angeles Times, a new report by the inspector general for the Los Angeles Police Department found that officials relied on a court order that had been expired for more than two years in order to take Rene “Boxer” Enriquez out of prison in late January. It also found that the order only allowed Enriquez to leave in the event that he was helping officials prosecute a murder case.

Nonetheless, law enforcement assigned several officers to develop an operational plan that would transport Enriquez – who ordered hits as part of the Mexican Mafia and admitted to raping a woman before being sentenced for murdering two people – to the site of a private business event held by the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the report stated.

In fact, plans were so extensive that the operational team developed different routes with which to transport Enriquez, identified safe houses in case the operation was “compromised” and inspected the YPO venue. A helicopter even flew along the primary route before the event in order to “survey” it.

All of this planning took about two and a half days to complete and cost thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds, the report said.

The YPO had requested Enriquez as a guest, though an LAPD command officer told the chief of police that the event was a “law enforcement training event designed predominantly for members of the Major Cities Chiefs Association” and the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association.” The YPO would only be there as secondary participants.

However, 150 YPO members ended up attending the evet, while just 14 LAPD members were there.

Additionally, invitations for the event made no mention that it was related to the LAPD or law enforcement in general, the inspector general wrote. Instead, the invitation described its guest speaker as someone who “had never spoken” to the members and “would never speak to them again.”

“You will be…amazed, shocked, blown away and maybe even a little scared,” it read, according to the report.

On Friday, the LAPD told the LA Times that a personnel complaint investigation into the issue has been launched “based on the contents of the report.”

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Enriquez has become a noteworthy figure in LA’s justice system. He has renounced the mafia, cooperated with law enforcement and served as an expert witness on several gang-related cases – behavior that has earned him praise from some law enforcement agencies. He has also spoken at multiple conferences and training sessions despite his criminal past.

A state parole board recently granted Enriquez parole, but California Gov. Jerry Brown blocked his release. Brown said that although Enriquez has worked to better himself since being incarcerated, threats against his life by the Mexican Mafia meant releasing him still posed a risk to his life and the community in which he finds himself.

“When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison,” Brown said, as quoted by the Times. The governor added that Enriquez did not sufficiently address why he became so violent.

Enriquez said he wanted to be released so that he could “give back” to a community he did much harm to.

“I cannot undo the past. But I can contribute to the future,” he said to the parole board. “I can contribute to dissuading other individuals from participating in this.”