The Mexican Mafia or Eme is one of the most notorious and powerful gangs in Southern California. They are allegedly running things from the penitentiary to the streets of LA. Not much is known about them or their operations. What little has been revealed has been in trumped up RICO indictments against the gang by the feds or in movies like American Me, which starred James Olmos. But the reality is that the fall out from that movie included the murder of some people involved who angered Eme shot callers with their portrayals in the film. So an aura of mystery surrounds the Mexican Mafia. Enter the In the Hat blog.
The well respected website gives the 411 on gangs, crime, cops and politics in Los Angeles. In the Hat tells the stories that the mainstream media won’t. It’s been in existence since 2-16-03 and has reported exclusively on the Mexican Mafia and Hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles. The author of the blog who goes by Wally Fay to protect his identity is also near completion of a book, Southern Soldiers, that chronicles the Eme and their story from the shot callers in Pelican Bay to their gang structure to the street soldiers in the barrio. The blog has been profiled in Don Diva magazine and the LA Times but we have a first here. We contacted the camera shy writer for an interview so that he could tell us what In the Hat is all about.
“It’s about Hispanic street gangs and law enforcement in So Cal and the politics that affect both of those areas,” Wally says. “I try to keep it out of the Netbanger realm. I don’t encourage shout outs and gang bravedo. Instead I try to get a dialogue going and raise the level of discourse above the ‘your neighborhood sucks, mine rules’ level. The reason I focus on Hispanic gangs is because they outnumber all the other gangs by a huge margin and they’re responsible for most of the violence, drug dealing and street crimes. None of the other groups can compare in terms of numbers or influence on the street.” And that’s saying a lot as LA is home to the infamous Crips and Bloods. Two very well publicized gangs that have cliques across the country.
“The Eme is clearly the most powerful organized force in the prisons and on the street. There is no other organization that can compare to its power projection beyond prison walls and the number of soldiers under its command.” Wally says. “Their intelligence network is phenomenal. Something can happen in Whittier this morning and by the afternoon the brothers in Pelican Bay know all about it. And by the next morning they’ve already issued instructions to address the problem. The Crips, Bloods, AB, NLR- none of them have that level of command and control.” And there’s no sign of the gang culture slowing down.
“Keep in mind that we’re now going into our fourth and fifth generation of street gangsters. Diamond Street, for instance, was one of the original players in the zoot suit riots in 1942. That neighborhood is still around 60 years later and still producing shot callers and brothers.” Wally says. “The gang culture and by extension the Eme culture has permeated deep into the Latino community. Eme friendly or Eme sympathetic individuals can be found in every occupation you can imagine- Sheriff’s deputy, LAPD coppers, DA’s office, LASD, County Clerks office, the FBI field office in downtown- you name it.” And with the Mexican Mafias long tentacles how has Wally maintained his anonymity?
“Nobody knows who I am and I prefer it that way. Notoriety, fame or any kind of public image is an obstacle to getting at people and the truth,” Wally says and it hasn’t been easy for the self-proclaimed sureno/eme expert. “I’ve gotten a few death threats but my sense is that as long as I tell the truth and don’t spin it or try to put cases on people or maybe speculating that could hurt a guys case then they’re okay with it. That’s where Olmos got his tit in a wringer. He made stuff up about Cheyenne Cadena and the brothers disapproved with extreme prejudice. Three people were killed over Olmos’ creative license.” Still the danger is there. Anger the wrong person and Wally Fay could be tracked down but just like the Italian Mafia some of the Emes like reading about themselves.
“I’ve been told that as long as I don’t make shit up or put cases on people I’ll be tolerated,” Wally says. “They like reading about themselves. They just don’t like lies. One guy released from county told me he overheard two shot callers talking about it. He said they seemed to like it.” But still it’s a fine line to walk as Wally’s been told several times by Eme members not to write the blog.
“Somebody thought I was a cop stirring up the pot on the web and they took exception to a post. So now I finesse stories and try harder to put stuff between the lines,” he says, “it’s worked so far. No death threats in quite some time.” But what angle is Wally working, law enforcement or street?
“A little of both. I try to walk right down the middle. I don’t make judgments and I’m not rooting for one side or the other.” Wally says. “What I’m rooting for is a decline in the death toll and to try in some small way to put a stop to the waste of lives.” An admirable goal but what do the cops think?
“Some cops think I’m too sympathetic to the hoods. I interview and pester the cops and DA’s the same way I interview the homies and gangsters. Sometimes I get answers and sometimes not,” Wally says and on the flipside, “Some homies think I’m a shill for the cops. So I must be doing my balancing act just right.” But still what is the reason Wally puts himself in danger of being killed just to write a blog?
“I write about this because I’m trying to understand it,” he says. “I’m pro not having kids killed. The gang life is a dead end. Every time a kid gets killed on his bike or blasted at his front door the politicians look sternly into the cameras and say crap like “This has to stop.1 But then nothing happens. They’re clueless.” And it goes deeper.
“I realized from my own experience and research into street gangs, crime and law enforcement that the legitimate media was thoroughly full of crap when it came to covering gangs,” Wally says. “The press doesn’t dig very deeply and only gives the public a top line version of the story.” So Wally Fay started In the Hat to keep it real and give the true story. No matter the consequences to himself.
“I don’t get paid a nickel to do this,” Wally says of his blog. “It’s a labor of obsession for me.” And he knows a lot of cops, homies and reporters read his blog. “I know some cops read it because they email me with questions and I’ve gotten emails from more than a few journalists about specific crimes or individuals but when I ask them for a byline or money they run away fast. Its amazing how uniformed these people can be about something that’s staring them in the face.” And a lot of readers think Wally Fay is a homie but he’s not even from LA.
“I grew up in New York where I was surrounded by the original Mafia,” Wally says. “Almost everybody in my old hood was connected in some way to the mob. I moved to Cali and found the street gang phenomenon both familiar and alien. They operate a lot differently here than in New York. As bad as the Italian mob is they never put as many bodies on the street as the Eme do in So Cal.” And let’s just hope that Wally Fay doesn’t become one of those bodies because for real his blog is like that. Check out www.inthehat.blogspot.com.