SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Former Mexican Mafia leader Rene "Boxer" Enriquez has helped law enforcement for years, hasn't been disciplined in a decade and had support for his parole request from federal and state agencies and the corrections system itself.
That wasn't enough for Gov. Jerry Brown.
The California governor blocked Enriquez's release from prison late Friday, citing the 52-year-old inmate's violent criminal past, nearly two decades as a top gang leader and his "shallow understanding" of his own actions.
While on parole in 1989, for example, Enriquez ordered a hit on a woman he suspected of shorting the gang on drug profits. A week later, he injected a fellow Mexican Mafia member with a near-fatal dose of heroin and then shot the man five times in the head.
He also has convictions for burglary, forcible rape and more than 20 counts of armed robbery.
"Mr. Enriquez presents a rather shallow understanding of how he came to perpetuate so many violent crimes," Brown wrote in a 3-page decision, adding that Enriquez's explanation that he was swayed by drug use and his need for acceptance didn't ring true.
"His claim that he was involved in the gang for 'survival' minimizes his deliberate commitment to the Mexican Mafia and the depth of his participation," Brown wrote.
Enriquez has been in prison since 1993 serving a sentence of 20 years-to life in prison.
He drew attention last month when elite Los Angeles Police Department officers cleared a downtown Los Angeles building so Enriquez could speak to a gathering of police chiefs and business leaders about a prison gang that has evolved into a transnational criminal enterprise.
The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office opposed the parole request, although Enriquez had letters of support from the FBI; several deputy district attorneys; a deputy state attorney general; three assistant U.S. Attorneys; and several officers from local forces and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, according to the transcript.
His brazenness was demonstrated in 1991, when he and another man slipped their handcuffs and assaulted Mexican Mafia leader Salvador "Mon" Buenrostro at a lawyers' interview room in the Los Angeles County Jail. They stabbed him 26 times, but Buenrostro survived.
Enriquez testified that he was dragged into a gang at the age of 12 or 13, when members of a Los Angeles street gang beat him behind a gas station as an initiation. He joined the Mexican Mafia during his first stint in prison.