Fading To Black In The LBC: Mexican Mafia OG Slain Under Cali Freeway Following Shunning For Assault On Boss

Morning commute traffic backs up on the onramp to the westbound 91 Freeway at Green River Road in Corona in December 2017. The Riverside County Transportation Commission is poised to begin building in 2020 a new westbound 91 lane from Green River to the 241 toll road. (File photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

March 7, 2021 – Excommunicated Mexican Mafia member Sam (Blackie) Villalba was killed earlier this year in Los Angeles. The 64-year old Villalba was found shot to death under a Long Beach expressway offramp in January. The FBI and California State Police believe the slaying was gang related and retribution for past behavior.

The Mexican Mafia or “La Eme,” was founded in the California prison system in the late 1950s and eventually spread to the outside world. La Eme’s strongholds are in California and Texas. Villalba hailed from La Eme’s Artesia Boulevard Gang faction in Long Beach.

Indicted in a sweeping May 1995 racketeering and murder case, Villalba pleaded guilty and did 15 years in prison. The indictment charged him with taking part in the first-degree homicide of La Eme soldier, Charles (Charlie Brown) Manriquez, who was gunned down on March 25, 1992 in the Ramona Gardens housing project in Boyle Heights. Manriquez upset La Eme leaders by consulting on the film American Me, directed by and starring Edward James Olmos. The film was released less than two weeks prior to his murder


American Me was a semi-fictionalized telling of the rise of the Mexican Mafia which included two male rape scenes that upset La Eme bosses. Manriquez was one of three consultants on the film to pop up dead in the aftermath of it hitting the big screen.

Villalba’s problems with La Eme began behind bars. He placed his hands on Mexican Mafia shot caller James (Rube) Soto during a heated exchange in the prison mess hall and after the incident was placed on the shelf by La Eme bosses.

Villalba returned to prison twice after he completed his term for racketeering and murder, both times for violating his parole (’14, ’16). He had been free since the winter of 2017 and moved back to the LBC, tempting fate some say, by simply being present in his old neighborhood.

“Shelvings” within the Le Eme rank-and-file are not uncommon, however, the murder of a soldier or shot caller banished from gang activity is rare. The last shelved member of the Mexican Mafia to be killed was Anthony (Ditto) Moreno, slaughtered along with his family in the heinous 1995 El Monte Massacre.


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