Back in 2006, I wrote in VDARE.com:
“Sam Quinones' July 28 article—6 + 4 = 1 Tenuous Existence: An illegal immigrant couple with six children were already living in poverty. Then the quadruplets arrived. They're still in a daze—just might be the best in the rather dull history of the Los Angeles Times.”
Now, Quinones has a new article in the L.A. Times—A familial mean street: Networks of relatives have bred crime on once-peaceful Drew Street, police say—that's worthy of comparison. Once again, Quinones demonstrates that you can't understand immigration, crime, poverty, or the world in general without thinking hard about extended family ties. Who is related to whom?
In Southern California, wealthy people live in or near the hills, while poor people live on the endless flat lands. So it was a matter of some surprise to many Angelenos last February 21 when a running gun battle between cops and gangbangers armed in a style worthy of a big budget action movie broke out just north of Downtown LA between Dodger Stadium and the beautiful Forest Lawn cemetery.
Quinones explains the extended family relations that have made Glassell Park, despite its seemingly prime location, one of the smallest but nastiest slums in America. He focuses on "Mama" Leon, the mother of a gang-banger who was killed by cops in February for firing his AK-47 automatic rifle at them:
"An illegal immigrant and mother of 13, [Maria] Leon has a lengthy arrest record and three convictions for drug-related crimes—for which she's served no prison time, according to court documents. …
"Police said Leon, 44, and her extended family were deeply involved in the drug trade that has made Drew Street among L.A.'s most notorious."
As I've long argued, the most overlooked factor in better understanding a host of hot-button issues, such as race, crime, immigration, even the chaos in Iraq, are family ties. Who one's relatives are turns out to have endless ramifications that are mostly ignored by the media.
Those of us who come from law-abiding backgrounds in which nuclear families get together with their extended family relatives mostly just on holidays have a hard time imagining ourselves in situations where we can't call 911, where we've done something so wrong that the only people we can turn to are our mafia of relatives.
Still, people in those situations create most of the news in this world. Quinones is one of the few reporters who gets it:
"The Leons—and members of several other immigrant families on Drew Street whom authorities have charged with criminal acts—hail from the town of Tlalchapa in the state of Guerrero, which has a reputation as one of Mexico's most violent regions. Police estimate that dozens of members of these extended families belong to the Avenues gang."