The screening and personal story of Ramon “MUNDO” Mendoza was brought to life this past weekend at the California Theatre of the Arts, in downtown San Bernardino with a special guest appearance by the original Mundo, played by the legendary actor, Pepe Serna of the James Olmos directed, American Me. The movie named after the famed prior hit man drew a diverse and aroused crowd wrapped around the corner, and then some, hungry to see Mundo’s story. There was no doubt that there was tons of support for the legendary Mendoza who had gone from being a Catholic altar boy to a local Mexican Mafia hit man. Mundo would come to serve most of his time in lock down a tactic developed by the San Quentin prison authorities in order to keep him from committing more murders. Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit), where over 150 of the worst criminal actives call home is such a system that although having secure holding facilities it have not been able to deter, La Eme who still has ultimate control and influence over most street gangs in Los Angeles.
The Mexican Mafia has always been set up to operate from
behind prison bars allowing for a stream of cash from drug sells of heroin, and now cocaine and methaphetamines flowing at all times securing them tens of millions of dollars. The Mexican Mafia, Carnales (Spanish for brothers) have held control for over 30 years prior to Mundo’s joining in the 1970’s.
Mendoza widely known as Mundo eventually came to turn his life around beginning with concurrent sentences of five years to life transference to the Tehachapi Correctional Institution and prison stints at Folsom and San Quentin through his affiliation with the religion of Christianity.
With the encouragement of Mundo Mendoza’s mom, family, friends, followed by frequent visits from ministers, clergymen and their associates he would come to know and have personal contact with his faith under the most trying of circumstances and within a specified radius of the prison’s four walls. Mendoza taking it a step further, chose not only to put a stop to his endless ring of crimes and murder but also to disclose his most trusted inner circle sources to the FBI and local feds.
Mundo begins his story with history of the
Mexican migration into the US and the advent of the great battle of the Mexican American war in Guadalupe which led to the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1948 wherein the United States acquired territories in Vegas,
New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. The treaty signage allowed for over 200,000 Mexicans to quickly become US citizens as their fight for respect and acceptance continued. During that time millions of Mexican families flooded the Rio Grande migrating into parts of El Paso. Mendoza’s family was a part of the migration into the Los Angeles area where he was born in 1949. Gangs migrated north many coming into Los Angeles, as well as other cities, which served as the
perfect breeding ground for the soon to be legacy of the birth of the Mexican Mafia led by founder, Luis Huero Buff Flores.
The Mexican Mafia, a.k.a “La eMe” [ spanish : the ‘M’] , is the most vicious Mexican organization in the united states. Despite the name, the group started on US land in Los Angeles. La Eme was founded in 1957 by street
gangster, Luis Huero Buff Flores at the Deuel Vocational Institution. The gang is involved in everything from car theft, through drug dealing, to trafficking. They got themselves a reputation that makes the bloods & crips fear them. Most American gangsters are fearful of La Eme.
They are extremely well-organized, and even have their own ranks. They operate mainly in Texas, California, and Arizona but have members all over the country. La Eme originally adopted their code and model for behavior from the historical La Mano Negra Italian gangs of the 1900’s. La Eme using the same Black Hand added their own powerful pride for their heritage, La Raza, using the number 13 which is the 13th letter M of the alphabet. This number and letter still represent the presence and influence of the Mexican Mafia. In prison they would speak in the native Aztec language of, Nahuatl to keep police and prison guards out of the loop of conversation about their carefully planned crime takeovers.
La Eme are known to control the prison system in California, they are well-connected and have no fear of the authority or of the law.
In the 1950’s an estimated 3,800 Mexican families were forced to move from their homes in the Los Angeles, Chavez Ravine to make way for the building of Dodger Stadium. World War II with so many Mexican soldiers at war would bring to surface a new reign of psychological terror and help to create intentional havoc for the area marked by the onslaught of the most vicious local gang members. Mundo’s strict paternal upbringing added to his post of an accumulative list of bad deeds highlighted by the influences of hardcore and daily activity on the streets of LA. The area of East LA known as Folsom Alley became a notable hot bed giving birth to over 47.000 gangs alone controlled by the Mexican Mafia.
Mendoza lays down a descriptive tale with the finesse of a well-respected craftsman who knows the nuts and bolts of a craft that has taken years of time and practice to perfect. His father was a drinker who often after drinking would spin out of control. His abuse towards Mendoza and his siblings would finally set the stage for a showdown between father and son; however Mendoza’s mother would be the one to receive most of his drunken father’s wrath.
Also around this time, Willie Mays was at the height of his career in 1959, leading Mendoza’s father to be the one to introduce him to the game of Baseball. After the game they would go and visit Mendoza’s uncle (tio Mundo). It was in the local gang known as, Varrio Nueva
Estrada, where Mendoza would come to garner the nickname, “Machine Gun Mundo”, a name that he wore with pride and honor. His crew made up of, Robot Salas, Shotgun Sanchez, Big Mike Mulhern, Sailor Boy Gonzales, Cheyenne Gadena, Acha Ison and Joe Peg Leg Morgan, who sponsored Mundo into the notorious La Eme, would become the State’s most seductive group of street made crime lord legends.
Peg Leg Morgan was not only a good businessman he recruited Mundo and although Yugoslavian he grew up in a Mexican neighborhood exposing him to a plethora of opportunities that involved the marketing and selling of heroin conducted from behind prison bars and carried out onto the streets. Morgan also gathered interested white convicts who were members of the, Aryan Brotherhood and who became loyal to him because of his being an integral part of the Mexican Mafia. This meant that if the Mexicans had a fight the, Aryans’ would have their back and vice versa for the, Aryans fighting against other groups, inviting the protection of the Mexican Mafia. La Eme eventually received a boost of attention in 1992, when East LA native actor, Edward James Olmos co-produced, directed and starred in, American Me, hired ex-gang members for his technical staff exposing most of the gang’s history. Olmos according to locals received threats from the Mexican Mafia because of how they felt depicted as a gang in the film. Not long after the film’s release two of the films consultants were murdered.
Ramon Mundo Mendoza’s story is written and told in a way that would strike an emotional chord through even the hardest and coldest of hearts. The movie is narrated by Mundo himself under the direction of, P. J. Bollinger and producer, Miles Ornelas.
Mundo as an adult played by actor Vince Romo, as a teenager by Angel Almanza and little Mundo, drew the audience in with such a raw and unidentifiable grace that could only be felt and delivered by a person who had been fully latched into the belly of a shrewd yet wise and quenching demon raging from within. This demon with fiber optics strung together through the life conditions of anger and hate had grown with such ferocity that Mendoza would give the last bit of heart he had to let this dark presence become his master. Surrounded by like minds his own inner suffering and multiple confrontations with self would lead him to a freeing of the spirit. This freedom led him out the doors of prison and into the hearts of many with his self-titled book, turned movie, Mundo/From Altar Boy to Hitman.
His journey back to self is not to be taken lightly. Before the film screened the, California Theater of the Arts paid honors and extended silent prayer in tribute to the cast and crew adding an additional live taped audio personal thank you and conscious message to those seeking the street life, from Mundo himself, who is now near age 70 and lives in an undisclosed location where he finds joy in witnessing cops and convicts.
For more information on MUNDO/From Altar Boy to Hitman, visit https://www.facebook.com/mundothemovie/