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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CA - Mongols indictment continues to reverberate in courts

 Frank C. Girardot

California - Al "the Suit" Cavazos won't give in, won't give up and won't surrender. A West Covina resident, Cavazos and his brother Rueben "Doc" Cavazos and Rueben's son 'Little Rubes" were among dozens of members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club arrested in a federal gang probe that resulted in lengthy prison sentences and a reverberation of recriminations.
Five years later, The Suit says his family was railroaded. And he wants his questions answered.
He has reams and reams of proof and a list of politician and media addresses - of both the electronic and physical variety - that would make any public relations agency drool. He writes to all of them frequently, and amazingly often receives responses.
The most recent came from a staffer in Sen. Barbara Boxer's office who promised to forward allegations of corruption in the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to investigators in the (wait for it) ATF.
"See, we're not what they keep saying we are," The Suit said during a recent visit. "I think a lot of these people know that, but why don't they want to say nothing? You know what I mean? They don't want to get too involved, but they don't want to say I'm wrong, in case it comes out that I'm right? You see what I mean?"
As it stands, The Suit, Doc and Little Rubes have been permanently 86'd from the Mongols by president David "Lil Dave" Santillan, who says they are "out bad".
The ruling won't keep The Suit from going to every court hearing that he can.
On Thursday last week, The Suit was downtown at a pre-trial hearing in the case of David Martinez, accused of killing Pomona Police Officer Shaun Diamond in November.
In June, he'll watch as members of the Mongols, led by Santillan, will appear in federal court to defend their trademark. The image of a swashbuckling, pony tailed Mongol raider aboard a chopper is well-known in the Southwest.
Federal investigators have been working to bring the club to heel for years. And the outcome of the trademark suit could affect members on an international scale.
In his defense of the club, Santillan has tirelessly pointed to its founding by Latino Vietnam-era vets, who were denied membership in other clubs. He has also pointed to current membership as model citizens who will be denied basic rights if their trademark is heisted by the government.
"The Mongols Nation Motorcycle club consists of over 700 members worldwide. Our members include doctors, lawyers, professionals of all sorts, business owners, and loyal employees of others. I am informed and believe that many if not the majority of our members were formerly members of the U.S. armed forces," Santillan wrote in October. As it stands, the case comes down to whether or not the government can classify the Mongols as a criminal organization. And it could happen. Judge Otis Wright, hearing the case, clearly is no fan.
"This is a criminal enterprise as evidenced by the admissions of same by no fewer than 40 people who appeared before me," Wright said. "This is a dangerous enterprise."
The question Wright will pose is this, which he articulated at the same hearing in October:
"Is being a Mongol no different than them perhaps having been Lutheran ... ? It is not the same thing, is it? They are operating under the banner of the Mongols. It is that name, that reputation, that intimidation factor which enables them to do what they do, isn't it?"