We have covered a lot of the East Coast street legends who are a part of hip-hop’s lyrical lore due to numerous rappers name checking them in their rhymes, but the West Coast street stars have largely been ignored. Everyone has heard of Freeway Ricky Ross and the Bloods and the Crips, but besides Monster Cody Scott, not a lot has been publicized in the street magazine genre concerning the West Coast gangsters. BET’s American Gangster profiled a couple West Coast G’s and the Discovery Channel’s Outlaw Empires just went in on the Crips with Lil’ Monster, Kody Scott’s brother, but besides a couple of interviews, it’s been mostly East Coast drug lords being featured.
It was just a matter of time and making the right connections so that we could get that genuine Cali flavor, and now that we have, we are getting ready to profile some of Los Angeles’ most infamous hustlers, gangsters and players. This is just the first piece in a new series of articles that will focus on the West Coast street legends, the gangbanging culture that spawned them and the lifestyles of the newly rich and infamous. We are talking about that California crack money and the gangsters who took the game to new levels in Cali. We are bringing it to you real, raw and uncensored, with that West Coast vibe, style and swagger. Read on and enjoy.
In 1980, ten American cities had serious gang problems. A decade later it rose to 125, with the worst being Los Angeles, which was regarded as the gang capital of the United States. Gangbanging was not a fad, it was something residents of inner-city Los Angeles had to deal with everyday. It was brutal and in your face. It was a terrifying nightmare for any parent to raise a male child in the ghetto, where bullet casings and yellow police tape divided the city streets. Open warfare between black youth gangs escalated chaotically and the viciousness of the gang wars had a devastating affect on the black community. In L.A. they said, “Crips don’t die, they multiply” and by 1979 the Crips had indeed multiplied exponentially, into a massive group with sets all across California.
This is where our story gets even more specific, because you know when we go in, we go in raw and everything we bring you is gangster certified and genuinely authentic. The gangbanging culture of the Crips and the Bloods has been well publicized, but since we always keep it real, we are going to focus on one man’s story, in the larger context of the L.A. gangster landscape. By juxtaposing his story within the overall framework of what was going on in L.A. we will show you how the environment in L.A. was not idealistic and how we have been bombarded with images by the media that might not represent the truth. To get the specifics we got with a real O.G. To that end we reached into the belly of the beast to Fredrick “Baby Gangster” Staves of the Santana Block Crips.
Baby Gangster is a Compton legend in his own right. He came up in the game, learned the ropes and paid his dues. He had a nice run in the streets before getting knocked off by the feds. Baby Gangster started off as a young Compton Crip in the 70s and moved up in the ranks. In the early-80s he got involved in the drug game and his name started ringing loudly in the streets. He is a high ranking Compton Crip, who was also the president of the Majestics, a low rider car club seen in almost every issue of Low Rider Magazine. Baby Gangster is a true gangster from the old school, who was very present and accounted for in the California gangster lifestyle. But don’t let us tell it, let him. Here is the exclusive- Baby Gangster, Santana Block Compton Crip, live and uncensored, straight out of the Bureau of Prisons.
Where did you grow up at?
I grew up in the city of Compton. Compton is not L.A., Compton is its own city about 20 minutes from L.A.
Back then, in the early 1970s, Compton was a great lil’ city. People have the wrong perception when they hear Compton. They think its all projects and run down, but actually Compton has no projects and very few apartment buildings. There are some neighborhoods in Compton that look like Woodland Hills. I love Compton and still do to this day. Growing up there was cool. As long as you wasn’t a punk, you were cool. The Crips in Compton started right after the Crips in L.A. I am the oldest and I didn’t have a big brother to look up to or to look out for me so I had to be tough and to hold my own.
Who did you look up to?
When I was growing up in Compton I looked up to my O.G. homies-Turtle, Killer Wayne, Yogie and Baby Rob. I idolized them and I wanted to be just like them. They had the ladies, the power and the cars. I knew that one day I would be just like that or even better.
Who did you hang with?
In elementary school I hung with the homies my age like Fat Daddy, H&H, Scuddy, Big Bam, T-Bone, Dantana and Squirrel. But when I got to Junior High I knew I had to be with the big boys, so I started to hang with Turtle. Once I started to hang with Turtle I was certified for real. Turtle is the one who gave me the nickname Baby Gangster.
How was your home life?
My home life was good. My family wasn’t rich, but my mother and my step father both had cool jobs and we were living in a house that they were buying. The only thing that messed with me is that my step father was there basically for my mother. He didn’t do anything with the kids. He never went to any of my games when I played little league football, basketball and baseball. Basically I didn’t get the love or guidance from him that I needed.
What caused you to join a gang?
Back in the 1970s living in the hood, if you were down, you automatically claimed your hood. When you lived in the hood you grew up representing the hood, there was no initiation. It was initiation for those who didn’t live in the hood, but wanted to represent the hood. All of us youngsters were known as Baby Crips. When I started representing Crip I thought it was my decision, no one decided for me, no one forced me or pressured me into joining. I didn’t join because I was scared of anyone. At the time I felt it was the life that I wanted to choose solely on my own. But now that I am older and more wiser I know that being without a father in my life to look up to for guidance, to teach me how to be a man, was a major part of the circumstances that led me to want to be in a gang. Instead of having my father to look up to and want to be like, or even my step father, I started looking up to my big homies and wanting to be like them. They took the place of my father and once I felt the love and respect that they gave me there was no turning back.
What did you have to do to join the gang?
I didn’t have to do anything because I grew up in the hood and claimed the hood. But when I started hanging with the O.G. homies, even though I wasn’t told to do anything to prove myself, I did a lot of things on G.P. just to show that I was the truth and wasn’t faking it to make it. I put in work for the hood.
How did you move up in the ranks?
The more work I put in, the more respect I got and the more I moved up in the ranks. As of today I’m considered an official real O.G. Crip, not only in my hood but by all Crips period. Even though I don’t gangbang anymore, as I sit behind these walls in a federal U.S.P. I still represent my hood Santana Blocc Crips and Crips in general, all over. You cannot come to jail and quit because you will be considered a buster. If you are going to hang your rag up its best to do it on the streets.
What became your final occupation?
My occupation was selling drugs. I started selling commercial weed (50 cent joints) in Junior High School. I graduated from weed to PCP to cocaine.
L.A. gang members have influenced the world with the cars they drive, the way they talk and their style of dress. Their culture has become popular culture. From music videos to the silver screen we have been bombarded with L.A. gang images. The violence, the brutality, the murders- hood life became mainstream news. The media became infatuated with the number of bullet casings found at crime scenes, the red and blue bandanas and drive by shootings became a household phrase. The L.A. gang culture has led to thousands of years of incarceration and a majority of the 150k members of 200+ Crip gangs, now fill our nation’s prisons. Each clique or set, which originated within different neighborhoods, has developed their own definitive history. A history unique and reverent only to them.
Give us a history of your set?
Santana Blocc Crips are one of the most recognized and well respected hoods of all times. Loved by most, hated by few, respected by all and if it wasn’t given, it was taken, by any means necessary. In regards to the birth of the Santana Blocc Crips, it first began with the original founders Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Raymond Washington who inspired our founders Mac Thomas and Donald “Ducc” Norwood. It all began in the early years of the 1970s. It’s no secret that Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Raymond Washington had originally set the stage by founding the Crips in South Central, Los Angeles. Big Took established the Westside and Raymond Washington the Eastside, both were highly recognized for their influential leadership. But Compton had its own founders, the infamous Mac Thomas, the proclaimed founder of the Grandee Compton Crips and Donald “Ducc” Norwood who founded the Oak Park Business Men, located on Oak Street and Santa Fe Ave. Ducc later converted OPBM into OPB (Oak Park Boys) and that was just the point of a transition in the making. In 1972 the Bob Simmons Boys Home located in Banning, California was closed down and kicked out of Banning due to unrest and chaos caused within the community. Bob Simmons later relocated his boys home to Compton on Pine Street and Santa Fe Avenue adjacent to Oak Park, in which later became the meeting quarters for many reputables. Although Bob Simmons Boys Home housed 98% Crips, it had inherited the name, The Red House. The Oak Park Boys had not fully embraced Crips to OPB as its foundation until Ducc was locked up and sent to the Bob Simmons Boys Home in Banning and he was embraced by Tookie.
What type of gang activity was going down?
Murder was officially top priority; it was going down on sight. The only passes given was to women and children and you were to respect and protect that honor at all cost. The presence of women and children gave many a pass (at that time). Honor was everything. Things had gotten very dangerous in Compton and it seemed as though someone got whacked every day or shot if they were not killed. In 1975 Compton erupted in multiple gun battles. The murder rate went sky high, death was all too familiar. By this time a various amount of O.G.s had set out to mark territorial grounds and convert them into hoods. Many others all derived from all parts of the land. However the transformations were in the making and all would soon be in place, but nothing came without a cost. In 1976 a true die hard rider by the name Kim “Bullet” Tate had a vision to bring Oak Park Boys and Mid-Town Crips together as one. It was he who originally founded Santana Blocc Crips. He dared to do it different. It was without a doubt that there would be no mistake of the identity of the Santana Blocc Crips and its primary goal was to become the best of the best. They were the ultimate, unique assassins, combative squad giving up nothing but hard dice and dynamite. What we didn’t mess up we blew up. He also initiated the dress code to set Santana out from all the rest, wearing all black with black bandannas. Being centered amongst many Piru sets and the only Crips on Rosecranes, Santana was in it to win it. Bullet’s vision was embraced and he and his brother Crips learned the art of war together. One victory was all victory, one loss was all lost and in 1978 they learned that.
Was it really that vicious at first?
Gunplay was fair game even though you could get a head up (one on one) if requested. To rat pack was considered cowardly in Compton. Rat packing was when a bunch of dudes ganged up on one dude. Bullet was eventually shot and killed. Bullet’s death was the very first for the Santana Blocc Crips. The death became the uprising of a creation he would never get a chance to see. “If I die today I’ll die trying,” was our motto. Many had been shot in the streets of Compton on account of Bullet. Santana was very determined to see Bullet’s dream come true. There was only one man who knew how to make it come true, Kenneth “Turtle” Wayne Johnson. One of Mid-Town’s most recognized and valuable and soon to be Santana’s Godfather and Compton’s Don was Kenneth “Turtle” Wayne Johnson. He was one of the most charismatic individuals ever known to whomever he met. Turtle set out to bring Bullet’s dream alive and not let him die in vain. His enemies would be held accountable and feel our pain. So Turtle took the torch and the merge was official, Mid-Town and Oak Park became Santana Blocc Compton Crips. As the years passed Santana’s name became more recognized for putting in work.
Who were their enemies back then?
Santana Blocc Crips became public enemy to all Pirus… Ludders Park, MOBB, Elm Street, Cross Atlantic, Lime Hood, Fruit Town, Mulberry, Tree Top, 151, Cedar Blok, Campanella Park- not excluding anyone who opposed us. Each year territory was gained, extincting Elm Street altogether and only to loose a few loved ones to ghetto warfare. Between 81-82 Santana incorporated the cocaine into their livelihood, which created an enormous economy for the hood. As most others, Turtle was just getting the game on lock and had his first real crash in 1983, so it was up to Melvin “Mellie Mel” Gipson, Twin, Bad Habit, Condo Mondo, Rebo and a few other Tana’s to keep things in order so that when I returned home it would be all good. When I returned home I put together a lethal assault team called The “G Force,” which consisted of the younger homies, Original Baby Gangstas– who over the years proved to be all that and above in fulfilling their commitment to the hood. In 1989, the Santana Blocc Crips experienced the worst year ever in our existence. Upon his release from San Quentin, Kenneth “Turtle” Wayne Johnson was ambushed and killed in a very unsecured area of Lynwood. Rumor has it that law enforcement had its role in Turtle’s assassination, so they tried to cover it up with some other beef they invented. But at no point when the head falls does the body splatter. Because we are still standing, tic toc til the last drop. He’s not standing here with us, but he’s watching over us up top. It don’t stop. The saga continues.
What gangs didn’t you get along with?
We didn’t get along with Compton Pirus or any Bloods period. Anything that had to do with Red, we wanted it dead. Compton was different than L.A. The Crips in Compton got along with all Crips except the Crips from Long Beach, but by 1982, 1983 we were cool with them as well.
Was there a time when your gang got along with the now rival gangs?
Yes, now our rivals, which are three Crip gangs in Compton were/are Atlantic Drive Crips, Southside Crips and Park Village Crips. They all used to be cool with us and be our allies. But its really these youngsters that are beefing with each other, all the O.G.s grew up together and still have love and respect for each other. So the O.G.s don’t get involved with the set tripping.
How did some of the feuds with those gangs start?
The usual- money, drugs, females or a fool getting high and getting disrespectful.
As crack came into play the various Crip sets became nationally organized criminal syndicates. As the Discovery Channel’s Outlaw Empires and Gangland segments have shown, the Crips have expanded outwardly. The 80s ended with 100s of new factions across the country. With crack, the market was plentiful and huge profits were made. Everyone owned a riot pump shotgun and a handgun, but Uzi’s, AK-47s and Mac-l0s were in rotation, becoming trademarks for the more notorious sets like Santana Blocc Crips. L.A. became known as “Gunshot City” and their gunshot doctors gained a reputation as being the best in the world. With all the violence, getting shot and surviving became a rite of passage in the hood. All the Crips had their war scars from battling in the streets.
The gangsters viewed the police as nothing more than a thorn in their side, because gang activity was as much a product of big city ghettozation as prostitution, drugs and other street crimes. The gang was just a product of its environment. It was an extension of inner-city culture. What had started as a form of adolescence rebellion turned into a form of aggressive behavior, in which killing was an accepted symbol of power. As the drug game became the new norm, being a gang member meant notoriety, a flashy lifestyle and stature in the streets and hood.
When I was coming up, the gang culture was all good to me. We were like family, like brothers and sisters. If you messed with one of us you messed with all of us. There was a lot of love, honor, respect, and loyalty to each other. You could have a fight with a homie and shake hands afterwards. You didn’t have to worry about house parties or your house getting shot up, because it was all about getting your man and not shooting up a house with the possibility of killing someone who is innocent, especially a kid. In the summer time kids would hang out late into the night without worrying about somebody coming through blasting. Almost everyone from the hood back in the day grew up in the hood. When you start letting dudes join the hood that didn’t grow up in the hood, that’s when things begin to change because they didn’t have that love and bond from growing up with you. When I was coming up there were unwritten rules that the gangs went by. Now there are no rules, no respect, no loyalty and no honor. Everybody is all about self, 90% of the dudes claiming a set don’t have the slightest idea of its history and origin. Most of the Crip and Blood sets that was started in different states were started by busters that wasn’t even from where they were claiming. They were the buster wanna-be’s that went out of state to sell dope or for whatever reason they left Cali. The dudes that went out of town and started the gangs, they were not official gang members themselves, so the new gang members got the wrong teachings and they don’t know the right way to gang bang, nor do they know their so called big homie is really a bitch and a buster. Everybody uses O.G. like it’s a random word or thing to apply to anybody. I see fools in their 20s and 30s talking about they are O.G.s. There are dudes in their 40s and 50s that are not O.G.s. In order to be an O.G. you would have to put in work on a constant basis and you have to be from that set you claim, from the beginning or close to its beginning.
What was the drug life like when you were out there doing things?
Selling drugs was beautiful to me when I was out there doing my thing, because all I sold was kilos. I didn’t have to go out of town because out-of-towners came to see me. They met me on my terms and I didn’t deliver. I was selling weed by the pounds, PCP by the gallons and kilos of coke. I did what I wanted to do, went where I wanted to go and whatever I wanted, I got it. I didn’t have anybody making the transactions for me, I did it myself and I didn’t deal with anybody I didn’t know. I knew that snitching was at an all time high. Where I messed up was, I thought, that since I’ve never been caught with anything I couldn’t be touched. I have been to state prison, so I was living by state laws, no dope no case. I never knew the feds didn’t have to catch me with some dope to charge me with conspiracy, even though I wasn’t caught with anything. I had at least four cocaine connections, so when the drought came around from the end of November through January, I always kept dope. Dudes dealt with me because they knew I was about my business and I didn’t mess over anyone that I dealt with. Dudes knew they could come to me with $200,000 or $300,000 and wouldn’t have to worry about getting robbed, plus the dope would always be right. For me the dope game was lovely when I was out there doing my thing.
Who are some of the biggest names out of L.A. in the drug and gang culture?
There’s not a lot of big names left out there in Cali, that is in the drug life, but there are some. There’s a lot of big names in the gang culture, but I can’t speak on any of that because it would be going against the G-Code, the code that I live by. I can speak of me because my life is and has been out there in the open. You can Google my name and damn near everything comes up. To drop names about other gang members and drug dealers is against everything I believe in.
In 1985, Baby Gangster was arrested and booked on a murder charge which he didn’t commit. But due to the true love and dedication he held for the hood, as well as Santana Block and himself, he kept true to the code of silence and stood his ground. The L.A. Times reported 2 Suspects Charged in Killing at Hansen Dam. Only 22, Baby Gangster and his homeboy Konrad Kesse, 21, were charged with murdering Rudolph Burkes by shooting him in the back with a handgun, Deputy District Attorney Cesar Sarmento said.
Can you tell us the circumstances surrounding your arrest at Hansom Dam back in the 1980s?
Back in the 1970s and 80s every New Year’s Day low riders from all over southern California would go to Hanson Dam to hang out, have picnics and show off their cars. Our car club, the Majestics, was having a picnic at the dam. Even though I was in the Majestics car club, my homies from the hood always went with me wherever I go. We got to the Dam early around 8:30 a.m. and set up where we were going to be hanging out at. As always we were strapped. By 12:30 p.m., the Dam was packed. Cars were lined up bumper to bumper. One of the members in my car club’s name was Rat, he was drinking and he was a lil’ drunk. So as the cars were slowly pulling through the parking lot they were at a stand still for a minute, so Rat began to lean against one of the cars. Rat and the driver of the car got into an argument about Rat leaning against his car. The driver got out of the car, so him and Rat started fighting. At first I was just watching, but Rat ended up getting knocked out and by Rat being from the club I automatically jumped in and rushed the fool that knocked him out. Once I got involved, all of my homeboys got involved.
What happened then?
There were so many homies on him that I couldn’t even hit him. I backed up from the commotion and that’s when I saw the passenger of the car jumped out and ran around to help the driver. Two of the homies and myself rushed him and he took off running. I caught him about 30 yards away from the initial fight. I had him on the ground beating him when I heard gunshots going off. I got off the guy and went back to where the fight started and I saw the driver on the ground. It looked to me like he was dead. I told the homies let’s roll. The Dam is in San Fernando Valley which is about one hour and forty five minutes from Compton. I was strapped, but I passed off my strap to one of my homies that was driving an undercover car. On the way home I was pulled over and arrested for assault. I didn’t even know who had blasted the dude until the homie that was with me told me what happened. The trip about it is when I got to the station and the detectives tried to question me they straight out told me “We know you wasn’t the shooter, but if you tell us who the shooter was we will let you walk out of here right now.” I said, “I don’t know what the fuck you talking about, put me in a cell.” One of the detectives said, “Okay asshole, then you are going down for it.”
What was the outcome?
The homie that had done it, he did not look like me. Needless to say, but by the time I went to trial they had five witnesses saying they saw me pull the trigger. I was charged with first degree murder, facing a 25 to life sentence. The jury really didn’t believe the witnesses against me, because during the deliberations they sent the judge a note asking him if I just fired a gun in the air could I be found guilty and he said yes. When I was arrested I took the powder burn test and my clothes were taken to see if I had fired a gun and all the tests were negative. Instead of the jury finding me not guilty they found me guilty of the lesser charge of Voluntary Manslaughter and I was sentenced to 13 years in state prison. I received 13 years and Conrad Kizzy got seven years. We both held true to the code of silence.
What did you do with yourself when you got out of prison?
I did 7 years and 2 months out of the 13 year sentence. While I was incarcerated I already knew in my mind and heart that once I got out I was going to sell dope. I didn’t learn a trade or anything to fall back on, because I had already dedicated myself to Santana Blocc Crips and the street life. I couldn’t imagine myself working for crumbs after I saw the lil’ homies making $20,000 in two hours at my crack house. After I got out of prison, within two weeks I was on my grind back in the dope game and representing the Blocc to the fullest. It was like I hadn’t left as far as getting money. But it was messed up because Turtle and Ang, which is one of the twins, got killed while I was doing my time. The hood had changed a lot. It was up to me to put the hood on my shoulders and carry it until I got it together and that’s what I did.
To get the real on the impact Baby Gangster had we got with one of his homies who broke it down for us. “One thing about that block was that you could have got away with anything,” the homie said. “When the Compton PD was there the cops wouldn’t go there. Guns would get unloaded into cars like nothing and no cops. Everybody knew who Gangster was. It was like there’s G, always bumping, on the phone, everyone wanted to be just like him. Dudes from other neighborhoods would come by in their cars bouncing and he would break out one of his and top them off. He had like two or three of every car. Everybody looked up to him. The amount of respect he got was incredible when he got on the block it was like G’s here. If he wasn’t in a good mood dudes knew to stay way.”
“Compton was a whole different world. A different city in L.A. County. Coming from gangbanging and seeing how they were gangbanging in Compton was crucial and the mentality was vicious. It’s all black, Eastside Compton. If you were a man you got treated like a man. In Compton they give respect where respect was due. I used to go to his houses, dope houses, to buy weed, they sold crack too. Everybody knew the houses were his. He had all his cars in the back. Chevy Impalas from ’58 to ‘72, Caprices too and a ’96 Impala Supersport on 20’s. He had a badass K5, a Chevy Blazer truck. The whole top came off, so it was like a convertible truck. I saw that truck get built from scratch. Dudes like G were inspiring to everybody in the neighborhood because they wanted what he had.” Gangster even had a beeper store.
How successful was your beeper store?
The beeper store was a success and it could have been better. I know people from everywhere and all of them should have been on my service, especially all my homies from my hood. It’s a trip because when it comes to dudes I know, they act like if they are on your service they are helping you get rich or helped you buy the Benz you are driving. They would rather give their money to the Asians, Mexicans or white people then you. But when they are in need I’m the one they come to. It didn’t really matter to me because I have figured out a long time ago that I can’t expect people to do what I would do. I live by the G-Code- Honor, Loyalty, Respect and never Snitch. Most of the people that were on my service were Mexicans. That was cool with me because that’s how I met a few of my cocaine connects. By the time I got arrested by the feds in 2001 the Beeper Shop was there just to be there. I was making $20 to 30 thousand a day off of one cocaine sale.
It is true you were the official president of L.A.’s largest car club the Majestics, which is still featured in just about every issue of Low Rider Magazine?
Yes, I was the president of Majestic Car Club, the Compton chapter. Since the Compton chapter was over all the other chapters I had the last word over all the chapters. We now have 32 chapters all over the U.S. and we have a chapter in Canada, Australia, Netherlands and Japan. When I touch down this year I will resume my spot as President of the Compton Chapter of the Majestic Car Club.
Growing up in the hood all the kids are mesmerized by low riders and all the kids want one. Having a low rider is a statement that indicates you are cool, down and have the women. Every kid wants that. Low riding has been a part of black culture since the 1960s. Brothers are the ones that first put the hydraulics on the cars. But if you let Low Rider Magazine tell it, they portray it like Mexicans invented low riding. Low Rider Magazine is very biased when it comes to brothers. In their 35th Anniversary issue there is not one mention or photo of a brothers’ car in the magazine, even though plenty of brothers buy the magazine and brothers have been there since the beginning. There are few feelings like rolling in a low rider dipping up the boulevard. Six inches from the ground with the top down and oldies playing with a fine woman by your side. Low riding is a part of the culture in California and always will be.
Baby Gangster was such a figure in the L.A. Low rider scene that when filmmaker Carol Strong decided to make a documentary to chronicle low rider clubs and the culture surrounding them she turned to him and his club, the Majestics, which is the oldest black low rider car club in Cali. The result was Sunday Driver. After an initially lukewarm reception from the Majestics, she met Baby Gangster who gave her permission to film some of their signature cars. Because of his approval, she was soon attending Majestics meetings and weekend competitions, filming her journey into the culture.
Founded in California in 1972, the Majestics are a pioneering low rider specialty car club. The Majestics are known not only for their beautiful vehicles, but for embodying low riding as a way of life. Much more than a hobby, low riding is all about cultivating the personality of a car, and Majestic vehicles are built with that standard of uniqueness and character in mind. Gangster epitomized the ideals and values of the club.
When you started having kids did it change your life as far as the streets were concerned?
To be honest, no it didn’t. Perception is reality. I’m a gangster and that’s the way I live my life. I have two sons and I love them to death. You must understand that the money and recognition, respect and power in the street is an addiction. By the time you realize what’s real and what your real priority should be, Bam, its too late and you are caught up. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my sons. Thank god they are going to be teenagers when I get home. My son Mondo will be sixteen and Lil’ Fred will be fifteen, so I will have quality time to mold them. I’ve stayed in contact with them ever since I’ve been incarcerated and we have a great relationship. Thank God neither one of them are trying to follow in my footsteps.
If you could do some things over would you change (kids, home life, street life etc.)?
The life I’ve lived shaped me into the man I am today. I would have spent more time with my family, but other than that I wouldn’t change anything because I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
What made you get so into automobiles?
I have been fascinated with low riders ever since I saw one for the first time at the age of 7. I started off fixing bikes and it progressed. The first low rider I rode in was my homie Turtle’s 64 Chevy Impala. After that I was hooked.
I got my first car when I was 15 years old. I’ve learned how to fix them or to fix them up from my homies Turtle and Tweety Bird. Both of them were the best, most relevant and real riders of that time. After learning from them I took it to another level.
Did you do your own work or did you get credit for all the work?
Back in the day I did the work but you know when you get real money you don’t want to get dirty like you used too. My homeboy and mechanic, Dogface, helped me build my cars. All the ideas were mine, but he did most of the work putting them together. My other homie Doc did all the paint jobs on my cars. But back in the day my homie Lil’ Willie (RIP) was a beast with the paint as well and he did all the paint jobs on my cars. Before I even start to build a car I already have the vision in my head of everything I am going to do with the idea and how it’s going to look when its completed. That’s why I get all the credit for the work.
At one point did you have a low rider on the front cover of a Low Rider Magazine?
Yeah, I had a 64 Chevy Impala on the front cover of a Low Rider Magazine named Santana after my hood. It was untouchable, I was the first Majestic to hit the front cover of Low Rider Magazine. I took the Majestics and low riding to another level. The streets are still missing me. When I got incarcerated the feds took nine cars from me and Santana was one of them. The feds sold Santana and some of my other cars to low riders in Japan.
Are you done building cars?
I am going to ride til I die. I am always going to have a rider. When I touch down I am going to build a 1959 Chevy Impala. I can’t stop and won’t stop, that’s what I do. If I live to be 100 years old I’ll be a rider in the passenger seat dipping up the Boulevard with the top down, Oldies jamming, six inches from the ground with my designer loc’s on as one of my great grandsons drive. I’m a real low rider it’s in my heart and in my blood.
In 2001, Baby Gangster was arrested again. This time on federal charges. 24 Gang Suspects Held in Raids on Drug Ring, The Los Angeles Times headline read. Law enforcement officers arrested the gangs alleged leader Fredrick “Baby Gangster” Staves and then caught additional suspects who worked under him as part of the Santana Block Crips. Most of those caught were charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Officers seized at least 10 firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, an undisclosed amount of cash and drugs, and several low rider cars with murals of gang life painted on the sides. Among them was a show car decked out in chrome that investigators said was worth as much as $250,000. The aforementioned “Santana” that was on the cover of Low Rider Magazine.
FBI agent Richard Garcia said, “Staves was a hobbyist whose love was those low rider cars.” He said investigators believed Staves had been involved in gangs since the 1970s and had built the Santana Block Crips into a business like cocaine distribution ring, receiving cartel drugs from Mexico and sending them around the country. Unlike many such gangs, Garcia said, the group even had its own money-laundering unit, allegedly ran by Staves’ wife, who was arrested. She was alleged to have run a business for this purpose called O.G.’s Paging Network. Other lieutenants and buyers were responsible for moving quantities of cocaine to dealers in Texas, Ohio and elsewhere, Garcia said.
The investigation used wiretap techniques to uncover the full scope of the conspiracy. Before applying for a wiretap order, investigators obtained information from confidential informants and admitted gang members, recorded telephone conversations between Staves and a confidential informant with the informants consent, conducted a controlled purchase of cocaine, conducted surveillance of Staves residence, pager business and stash houses, obtained pen registers and “trap and trace devices” which indicated an inordinately large volume of calls made and received, and investigated Staves finances and tax records for evidence of money laundering.
None the less, investigators were unable to uncover the full scope of the conspiracy with traditional investigative techniques because the organization used sophisticated counter surveillance strategies, trash searches were impossible, because trash was not left where police could retrieve it at any of the locations under surveillance. CS1 was in prison and unavailable to assist, confidential informant 2 was unwilling to cooperate further and introducing an undercover agent likely would have been dangerous or impossible because Staves would have been suspicious of anyone new. Toll analysis of telephone calls was of limited use and warrants to search the locations under surveillance likely would not reveal the full scope of the conspiracy. Therefore, agents concluded that wiretap evidence was necessary to obtain direct evidence of the entire scope of the conspiracy. A grand jury returned a 34 count indictment against Staves and 24 other people for various drug related offenses.
On the day he was scheduled to go to trial Baby Gangster pled guilty along with others on the case. Baby Gangster pled guilty to federal drug trafficking offenses in the Central District of California, Stephen V. Wilson, District Judge presiding. Staves pled guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of narcotics.
As a result of the investigation all 24 defendants were convicted. The guilty pleas capped an investigation in which law enforcement authorities seized more than 40 pounds of cocaine, a quarter of a million dollars in cash and several guns and automobiles. Staves, who authorities believed was the undisputed leader of the Santana Block Crips, one of the oldest street gangs in Compton, faced a life sentence if he went to trial. The district court sentenced Staves to 240 months in prison with his guilty plea.
“Yesterdays guilty plea’s stand as a major achievement and represent the complete dismantling of the Santana Block Crips leadership and criminal organization,” FBI agent Ron Iden said. “I want to congratulate all of the agents, deputies and investigators who worked so hard and did such a tremendous job bringing this gang to its knees.” The arrests were the result of a two year investigation by the Compton Inner-City Crime Task Force (CVICC), a collaboration of the FBI, DEA, L.A. Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Marshal’s Service, IRS and ATF. “The success of this joint effort is best described by the reduction of fear and intimidation that these gang members routinely place upon the community and citizens of Compton,” DEA agent John Fernandez said.
How long have you been incarcerated and what have you been doing during this time while away?
This will be my llth year. When I first came to jail I was bitter because of the two fools that snitched on me, I knew them and have dealt with them occasionally and its one thing to snitch, but it’s really critical when bitch-ass dudes are snitching and lying. These dudes that you have looked out for and dudes that owed you straight leave you for dead. I had plans of getting out and smoking all those fools, but as the years went by, I came to the conclusion that I was using too much energy focusing on things beyond my control. I could have got at some real dudes and had them handle it, but I didn’t want to get them caught up, so I said to myself, “Fuck it.” About four years after I was incarcerated I began to think about what I wanted to do once I got back out. I knew that I didn’t want to work for anybody, but I also knew it was over for me with the dope game. In the past I always knew that whenever I got out of jail I was going to sell dope. This time I had to make a change for my sons, my wife, also my family. I decided to write an autobiography about my life. After I wrote it I contacted numerous publishers, but they were full of shit, so O.G. Publishing was born. I published my first book Gangsta, Some Talk It, I Live It. Then I wrote another book Tha G-Code and published it. Since then I’ve written 11 more books and I will publish them when I am released. Also I am going to start a gang prevention youth foundation. I have three more business projects that will be based on the Internet. I want to publish other authors work as well.
They can order them off Amazon.com or email the company at email@example.com. My books are urban, but they are not everyday urban books. I wrote from a West Coast perspective. The books are different from Southern and East Coast urban novels. The books are page turners. I have put together some vampire books also. There are a lot of good dudes in prison like my homie G-Rabbit and Big Kiko from South Central L.A. East Coast Crips. We have big plans we just have to get out, stay focused and away from the bullshit and also the haters.
Were you ever in agreement with the CC-Rider (Compton Crip Rider) movement in Compton when most or all of the Compton Crips made a mass alliance?
I was not only in agreement with the movement, with my big homie, Big Marcellus, I started CC-Rider in 4800 at the L.A. County Jail. 4800 was a module for only Crips. Back in the early 1980s Crips were causing so much havoc in the L.A. County Jail that the sheriffs consolidated every Crip that came through their jail that they knew about in module 4800 and later 4700 as well. CC-Rider was started in 4800 even though Compton got along with all the other Crips from L.A. and everywhere else. All of the other gangs were consolidated in the County Jail to be more powerful. All the Hoovers were together, all the East Coast Crips, all the Gangsters and all the neighborhood sets were together. Big Marcellus and myself started CC-Riders in the County Jail and pushed it to the streets.
Was the movement powerful?
Yes, it was powerful and it lasted about five years on the streets. Even though it’s not active on the streets anymore, no matter which jail you go to- whether state of federal, when you get to that jail its all about CC-Rider, even if it’s some of your rivals on the yard. All that is put to the side because nobody is above the car.
Can you explain what happened to the CC-Rider movement?
Different neighborhoods started having serious beef on the streets and most of the O.G.s that had respect and power were incarcerated, so there was no one to say hold up, we are all homies, lets fix this mess. You know everybody doesn’t know how to go about fixing problems, so things got out of hand and the CC-Rider movement on the streets folded.
The publicity and the hype surrounding the Crips and has fed a growing fascination that has been attributed to them by news media interested in selling and creating an audience. This fanfare made the Crips seem increasingly illustrious. To many black youth the Crips seemed like a sure win and still do today. With the advent of the Crip gangs, the youth finally had something to gravitate toward in their destitute environment. It became a fundamental point of reference for ghetto youth, often the only point of reference in a bleak and violent world.
Decades of destruction didn’t stop gangbanging from becoming commercialized and glamorized by Hollywood films and studio gangsters alike. From movies like Colors starring Sean Penn and the Fox movie Redemption starring Jamie Fox as Tookie Williams, dodging bullets and getting shot got turned into acting and entertainment. The gang culture stretched from the ghettos of Compton and South Central L.A. to New York City and to all cities and towns in between. The gang phenomenon in L.A. has inspired movies like Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society, giving mythical status to L.A.’s gang scene.
What did you think about movies like Colors and Boyz in the Hood which glamorized gang life? How accurate were they?
I don’t feel that either one of the movies glamorized gangs and for the time period the movies were made, the gangs way of talking or what their lifestyle consisted of was only halfway accurate. The movies were interesting to watch, they got the attention of youngsters all over America, which sparked interest in their minds and inspired them to join the Crips or Bloods. The movies helped to expand the Crips and Bloods.
What is the state of gangbanging today and how does it differ from your era?
The state of gangbanging today is still at an all time high. Now instead of Crips and Bloods going against each other, now it’s Crips on Crips and Blood on Blood, also Crips and Bloods against Mexicans. Pretty soon it’s going to be blacks verse Mexicans. In my era we were more organized and there was a lot of love, loyalty, honor, respect and trust amongst the hood. We were more than a gang, we were a family. I can’t blame the youngsters. I have to blame the older homies for not teaching the youngsters the right things. I can’t blame the younger generation doing what they are doing, because when I was their age I have done some of the same things. You can only do better when you know better. You live and you learn, and I’ve learned over the years, from my own personal experiences, that life is too short to be spending it in prison, over money, a hood or street that we do not own. Education and jobs are the key for the youngsters out there who feel that gangs, drugs and crimes are the only way that they could survive and take care of their families. Most of the youngsters are placed in situations and circumstances that have given them no choice, but to turn to the gangs, crime and drugs. We as a community, society and nation, have to step up and do what has to be done to save the youngsters. If we can spend billions of dollars in aid to Israel, Egypt and other countries, then we can use some of that money for education, trade schools, jobs and inner city sports. The main difference between the state of gangbanging now and form my era is that today there are no rules, everything goes.
Do you have a message to offer the youths today who are attempting to follow in your footsteps?
I know that certain circumstances and situations could lead you to believe that gangs and selling drugs are the end to a means, but know that nothing is worth your freedom being taken away from you. Its not all glitz and glamour, there’s a lot of hurt, pain, betrayal and death involved as well. Education, hard work and being consistent is the key to success. Death is always right around the corner in the drug game. The only reason I am still here is because of the grace and blessing of Jesus Christ. The gangbanging lifestyle isn’t a game or joke. A lot of times, even the strong don’t survive. So don’t follow in my footsteps or anyone like me. Do what’s right, live and be free.