Sending hidden messages from at Colorado’s federal “Supermax” prison, a gang kingpin controlled an elaborate drug operation in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors charged yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The indictment of 18 gang members resulted from a four-year investigation by a task force of Los Angeles Police Department detectives and FBI agents that used wiretaps, undercover surveillance, and inside sources.
Authorities were surprised by the sophisticated hierarchy that they discovered when infiltrating the gang. They described it as being more like the Cosa Nostra than a traditional Latino street gang. At the top was Ruben “Nite Owl” Castro, 46, a leader of the Mexican Mafia prison gang. He allegedly ran the enterprise from the Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Co., where he is serving a life term after being convicted on similar gang racketeering charges in 1997. Under constant surveillance, Castro had to use cryptic phone conversations and hidden messages to get directives to deputies on the streets, who are described as “shot callers.” Castro mostly relayed his messages through his girlfriend.