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Three L.A. Jail Gang Leaders Murdered

A high-ranking member of the Mexican Mafia jail gang was murdered in Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail on August 4, 2023. The fatal stabbing of Joseph Hutchinson, 51, came just weeks after fellow gang member Michael Torres, 59, was also stabbed to death in his cell at Folsom State Prison on July 7, 2023. In between those two killings, Torres’ “secretary,” Stephanie Rodriguez, 38, was murdered at the home of Torres’ mother on July 15, 2023.

Hutchinson, who went by the alias “Capone,” was a longtime enforcer tasked with collecting gang debts in county jails, according to testimony provided in a 2014 murder trial. He reported to Torres until the latter went to prison in 2007. Control then passed to Eulalio “Lalo” Martinez until he died in 2014, after which Jose “Fox” Landa-Rodriguez took over. When he was indicted on drug trafficking charges in 2016, Torres reassumed control from his cell, though he was reportedly being muscled out by other gang members at the time of his death.

Two fellow state prisoners, Juan Martinez, 47, and Ray Martinez, 49, were charged with Torres’ killing. No charges have been filed in Hutchinson’s death, but police believe the two are related, as is Rodriguez’s murder, for which Torres’ niece was arrested at the scene. Evelyn Torres, 34, was then formally charged in that killing just over a week later.

The drug trade in L.A. County jails is driven by inflated profits—a $50 gram of heroin on the streets nets $1,000 behind bars—paid for largely with marked-down commissary goods. Latino detainees are reportedly required to fund this “kitty” of commissary snacks and hygiene items with $1.50 worth of merchandise for every $10 spent. The Mexican Mafia then uses those funds to buy the drugs that are resold at hyper-inflated prices. Any attempt to buy drugs elsewhere reportedly earns Latino detainees—who make up 55% of the jail population—repeated beatings at 13-second intervals.

A previous “secretary” for Torres, Virginia “Big Virge” Moor, provided the testimony linking him to Hutchinson at her 2014 trial for killing her predecessor, Brian Stansfield. Moor put out a hit on him in 2011, but her brother-in-law, Humberto Gastelum, confused Stansfield with a neighbor, Peter Ziehler, because both were nicknamed “Casper.” He then pointed another brother-in-law, Matthew Moor, and his friend, Arthur Ramirez to the wrong man, and they—along with Moor—were convicted of his murder. All three were sentenced to life in prison.  


Sources: KCRA, Los Angeles Times

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