TIJUANA, BAJA CALIFORNIA.- The business call began with pleasantries and self-deprecating humor.
“We’re just over here comparing bellies,” one man said.
“Hey, I never lost – I never could get down to under, uh, s—, 182. And now I’m at about 171,” said another, adding, “I’ve been working out.”
“Don’t mess up your knee, though, man, your leg.”
The conversation then pivoted to what sounded a lot like a murder plot.
One of the men said he’d told an underling “everything, contingencies — I told him, look, this is the way you do it. You do this, you block this, you hit this, you go this way.”
“Saturday, they, they – that’s when they were supposed to go to the car show, right?” he continued. “To the car show. That’s when they were going to go. Now if they don’t make it to the car show this Saturday, homeboy from [inaudible] takes the driver’s seat.”
“I understand,” said another. “He’s going to, going to end up driving the car. He’s going to end up driving him to the car show.”
The four men on the line were members of the Mexican Mafia, held in prisons throughout California. They had dialed in using contraband cellphones, one of which had been secretly tapped. They spoke in a code they thought only they understood.
The person they were plotting against was referred to as “two T’s.” Four days after this call, Emiliano “Tonito” Lopez, a member of the Mexican Mafia who had fallen out of the organization’s graces, was stabbed to death at Calipatria state prison.
The “car show,” it appears, was code for a killing. The person “driving him to the car show” was the killer.
About two-thirds of the Mexican Mafia’s 140 members are held in California prisons, which are inundated with illegal cellphones. They use the phones to traffic in drugs, collect money and orchestrate murders, according to testimony, interviews and recorded calls obtained by The Times.
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Source: Los Angeles Times