From Publishers Weekly
Rafael's debut book—a study of the Southern California–based Mexican mafia told mainly from the perspective of veteran Los Angeles deputy district attorney Anthony Manzella—is a revealing but flawed work. Despite occasional national headlines about drive-by shootings that claim innocent lives (including the granddaughter of an LAPD chief), most Americans are probably unfamiliar with the powerful, loosely organized street gangs that make up the Mexican mafia. Rafael does a workmanlike job of tracing the rise of these gangs, despite the occasional factual error (e.g., the RICO statute was used to indict criminal groups besides La Cosa Nostra before the Mexican mafia), but fails to dramatize his overly detailed account of Manzella's trials. Manzella is an interesting enough figure—a dedicated workaholic throwback who doesn't use a computer, or even an electric typewriter. But Rafael gives short shrift to the sociology of the rise of the Mexican mafia. Instead, he offers a final quote from Manzella (We know exactly the kind of families that produce criminals. I'd like to go in there and take them out. But we can't do that') will leave many with a sour taste that undercuts Rafael's attempts to make the deputy DA a hero. (July)
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From the Publisher
It's been called the most dangerous gang in American history. In Los Angeles alone, it's responsible for over 100 homicides per year. With less than 300 members, it controls a 40,000-strong street army of gangsters eager to throw down and stand up for the cause. It flies the flag of the Black Hand and its business is murder. Although known on the streets for over fifty years, the Mexican Mafia has flown under the radar of the public's awareness and flourished under a deep cover of secrecy. Members are forbidden to even acknowledge its existence. For the first time, in its history, the Mexican Mafia is getting the attention it's been trying to avoid. In this briskly written and thoroughly researched book, Tony Rafael looks at the birth and blood soaked growth of this criminal enterprise through the eyes of the victims, the dropouts and the cops and DAs on the front lines of the battles against the Mexican Mafia. As the first book ever published on the subject, this is a pioneering work that unveils the operations of this California prison gang and how it grew from a small clique of inmates into a transnational criminal enterprise. As the first prison gang to ever project its power beyond prison walls, the Mexican Mafia controls virtually every Hispanic neighborhood in Southern California and is rapidly expanding its influence into the entire Southwest, the East Coast and even into Canada. With law enforcement seemingly powerless to stop it and riding a wave of unchecked immigration, the Mexican Mafia is poised to become the Cosa Nostra of a demographically changing 21st century America.