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Judicial Watch • Tax Dollars Fund Indicted Gangbanger’s Charity

Tax Dollars Fund Indicted Gangbanger’s Charity

Tax Dollars Fund Indicted Gangbanger’s Charity

JUNE 25, 2009

Public funds and influential politicians have for years supported a nationally known “anti-gang leader” charged with conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering while his nonprofit used tax dollars to supposedly prevent violence. 

The popular southern California activist (Alex Sanchez) is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who was deported in the 1990s after a theft conviction and parole violation. He snuck back into the U.S. and was rewarded with political asylum in 2002 after claiming that he had been harassed by the Los Angeles Police Department. 

For a decade Sanchez has operated a community-based group called Homies Unidos that purportedly helps the city combat its serious gang infestation by promoting humane treatment of marginalized youth and providing alternatives to destructive behavior. The group is largely funded with tax dollars and some private donations. 

The money has flowed into the group’s coffers because Sanchez is heavily touted by city and state lawmakers as a completely reformed former member of the nation’s deadliest street gang, Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13. Well known for its violence and brutality, the MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles—and has spread to most major U.S. cities—by immigrants who fled El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s.  

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council President Eric Garcetti are among the indicted gangbanger’s most loyal supporters in a municipality that officially recognized his work by passing a resolution. Garcetti actually praised Homies Unidos in a published statement calling it the kind of community-based violence prevention and intervention program Los Angeles needs to help eliminate its gang problem. 

A massive federal indictment later, the City of Angels’ usually outspoken, media-loving leaders have no comment on their arrested homeboy who has been credited with reforming hundreds of violent gang members. Sanchez was one of two dozen area gangbangers arrested this week by an FBI-led task force and charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking.

The indictment certainly paints a vastly different picture of the work Sanchez—and his fan club of prominent city lawmakers—claims his cherished nonprofit has accomplished in ten years. After all, Homies Unidos professes to be a catalyst for change that works to end violence and promote peace. 


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