Gavin Newsom watched as his state’s largest city sunk into another epidemic

Los Angeles has been getting a lot of press in recent months and years and none of it has been good.

It hasn’t been good under the Governor’s watch as this city has devolved into a hotbed of crime and homelessness.

Now, Gavin Newsom watched as his state’s largest city sunk into another epidemic.

Tens of thousands of dollars benefitting nefarious groups

Illegal gambling parlors have sprung up across the city.

Called “nets,” or “tap taps” or “slap houses” these casitas – Spanish for “little houses” – are netting tens of thousands of dollars per week and the vast majority of that money is benefitting nefarious groups.

Richard Velasquez, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective, told the Los Angeles Times about the “casitas.” 

“Casitas are everywhere, to be honest with you. It’s hidden in plain sight. You don’t know that it’s there till you know that it’s there. All of these places, someone in the Mexican Mafia has their hand over it,” said Velasquez.

These mafia members and those who report to them have been responsible for a rash of beatings, kidnapping and killings.

Within these casitas, gamblers work the joysticks and buttons of the fish game.

The game is played on a machine that looks like a pool table with a screen where the felt would be. 

Gamblers sit and try to harpoon digital fish flickering across the screen in the hopes of winning cash.

With illicit business comes a host of other illegal and dangerous activities.

One woman says she was pistol-whipped and kidnapped after money came up missing on one of her shifts at a casita.

The woman says that she was told to “pay up” and promised to give gang members money left to her from her grandmother.

After she retrieved the money, she managed to escape from a motel parking lot.

Casita patron: “Once they have you, you belong to them”

Anyone profiting from illegal gambling — whether operating a casita or running online gaming from a smoke shop — is subject to being “taxed” by the Mexican Mafia.

Velasquez says, “They’re going to create a problem that you need protection from. And then once they have you, you belong to them. They’re going to keep taking and taking.”

The mafia members also prey on marginal members of society. 

Michael Haynie was released from prison in 2016.

That’s when a reputed Mexican Mafia member, Frank “Playboy” Fernandez, gave him “the keys to my hood” — the approval to run his gang, and take money from anyone doing illicit business East L.A.

Haynie later testified that he collected as much as $80,000 a month from two casitas in East Los Angeles – quite a large sum of cash, and indicative of why the Mexican mafia won’t let up unless they are effectively forced to by police. 

The problem has only been worsening and it all comes at a time when Mayor Karen Bass is prioritizing racialist politics and lowering hiring standards for the police department.

As Blue State Blues has reported, the results have been disastrous.

Here’s to hoping that political leaders do right by their constituents and give the police the tools they need to tackle this problem.

Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any updates to this ongoing story.


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