That’s how the feds describe Alex Sanchez: An MS13 shot-caller who is alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to commit murder in 2006 while running Homies Unidos, a prominent gang intervention organization. Sanchez was arrested this morning at his Bellflower home as part of an FBI operation targeting two dozen members of the Salvadoran street gang.
WitnessLA editor Celeste Fremon splashed “Target of FBI Rampage” over a photograph of Sanchez following news of his arrest. Dueling replies posted on LA Weekly and LA Times articles take aim both at the FBI and the local politicians who celebrated and funded Sanchez’ intervention efforts.
It’s another sharp turn in a life of sharp turns. Sanchez arrived in the US around 1980 at age seven and joined MS13 at age 14. In 1994 he was deported to El Salvador on a parole violation. One year later, he returned to establish the US chapter of Homies Unidos and in 2002 won political asylum with the help of former California State Senator Tom Hayden. Hayden’s son, Troy Garity, is listed as chairman of Homies Unidos.
Last year, NPR sought Sanchez for comment on the FBI’s efforts to dismantle the 18th Street gang—specifically on leadership succession when law enforcement closes in. There are always new shot-callers to fill the void, Sanchez explains. “Shot callers are local heroes; role models.” … In what may emerge as a moment of prescience, he then added, “The lure of the gang culture may be stronger than any federal-local anti-gang collaboration.”