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Officials Are Investigating Accusations That The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Engaged In Racial Profiling

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An investigation has been launched into whether Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies engaged in racial profiling against thousands of Latino drivers while on the 5 Freeway. According to a report by the LA Times, 69 percent of drivers who were stopped between 2012 and 2017 as part of a police operation were of Latino descent. County Supervisor Hilda Solis requested the inspector general and Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission begin a investigative review of the sheriff’s Domestic Highway Enforcement team.

Two-thirds of cars searched by the LA County sheriff’s Domestic Highway Enforcement Team were of Latinos, a rate far higher than other racial groups.

The report shows that sheriff’s deputies searched the cars of more than 3,500 drivers. A majority of the driver were Latino and didn’t have any illegal items. Deputies conducted searches of Latinos’ vehicles during two-thirds of the stops, while other drivers had their cars searched less than half of the time The statistics are alarming and have caught the attention of various watchdog groups who are calling for an investigation into the report.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department denies that officers were engaged in racial profiling and praised the amount of drugs seized by officers during their operations. According to the report, officers confiscated “more than a ton of methamphetamine, 2 tons of marijuana, 600 pounds of cocaine, millions of dollars in suspected drug money.”

“We do not racially profile. We make stops based on behaviors and vehicle code violations, not ethnicity,” Assistant Sheriff Eddie Rivero said in a statement released after the LA Times article was published.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis says the report is “concerning.

“It’s deeply concerning that racial profiling could have been used on Latino drivers,” Solis said in a statement to the Associated Press. Solis says she wants the inspector general and a civilian oversight commission to investigate the enforcement team, which is made up of four white male deputies.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he would work with investigators to fix any concerns.

“As someone who has dedicated my career to protecting the civil rights of all people, I am personally concerned about any allegation of racial and ethnic profiling and take very seriously questions about race and police procedures,” McDonnell told the AP.

The traffic stops were conducted along a 40-mile stretch of Interstate-5 that officials say was a major pipeline for cartels to move narcotics.

CREDIT: Credit: LA Times

The enforcement team, which was stationed on Interstate 5, was formed in response to a spike in drug overdoses in the Santa Clarita area. The area of the highway where officers were stationed spans roughly 40 miles of freeway from just south of Santa Clarita to the border of Kern County. Deputies say that section of Interstate 5 is a huge source for cartels to move drugs along the West Coast and return to Mexico.

The investigative reports’ findings come as no surprise to many that know the racial history of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has had a history of problems, from issues around racial profiling to brutality in local jails. That’s why it came as no surprise to Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney and director of police practices at the ACLU of Southern California. Bibring told L.A. Taco that the department’s problems with racial profiling are well-documented and sees this is an abuse in power.

“The department has a long history of these problems,” Bibring said. “I think one of the concerns of a program like this that seems to involve behavior by deputies that had been flagged by courts and still continues raises concerns that the department has a culture that tolerates this behavior.”

READ: A New Study Finds Latinos Believe In The American Dream But That It Has Become Too Hard To Achieve

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We Compared The Real Life Narcos With The TV Characters From The Netflix Show

things that matter

We Compared The Real Life Narcos With The TV Characters From The Netflix Show

When Netflix launched its hugely popular show “Narcos” back in August 2015, global audiences got a taste of what life is like in some Latin American cities ravaged by the cartel wars. The show was a pioneer in some respects. Most of the dialogue was actually in Spanish (no weird half English-half Spanish conversations like in “Queen of the South”) and the cast was mostly Latino. The drug wars were also now part of mainstream television after being relegated to cheap -but let’s be honest, highly addictive- narco telenovelas, like “La Reina del Sur” or “Dueños del Paraíso.” So, if you’re not familiarized with the true stories of Latin American Drug Lords, here’s a small taste of how real life narcos look like…

The show was not without controversy. In Colombia, some saw no point in revisiting a traumatic past and selling a violent image to the world. Elsewhere in Latin America and the U.S., others were unhappy with this parade of bad hombres on the screen, particularly in the Trump era and its politics of division, especially against immigrants and Latinos.

The first two seasons of “Narcos” dealt with the rise and fall of Colombian kingpin Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. From his Medellín headquarters, Escobar changed the history of Colombia by generating immense wealth, confronting the government and bringing violence to the streets. The third season showed the change of guard in the Colombian drug trade by focusing on the post-Escobar era of the Cali cartel, made up of elegant bosses.

Netflix is ready to release the fourth season, “Narcos: Mexico,” which will focus on the expansion of the Guadalajara Cartel. To get ready, here’s a list of 11 “Narcos” characters and their real-life counterparts.

Narcos seasons 1-3

1. Pablo Escobar

Credit: Pablo. Digital image. FourFourTwo. November 14, 2016.

Loved by some but ultimately hated by many, Escobar left behind a legacy of excess and blood. He thought of himself as a modern-day Robin Hood, a man of the people who would take from the rich to give to the poor.  

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV Escobar: “Narcos” producers crafted a complex character that showed the best and the worst of human nature. Escobar appears as a sort of Colombian Tony Soprano: a loving family man and a sadist killer. The fact that Brazilian Wagner Moura gave life to this famous Colombian was controversial at first, but soon his acting skills made us forget his strange accent.

2. Javier Peña

Credit: Javier. Digital Image. Sensacine. September 21, 2017.

A badass Texan DEA agent who investigated the Medellin and Cali cartels with his colleague Stephen Murphy. You can see the real-life narcs here.

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV Peña: Javi was played by Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal (you probably remember him for getting his eyes popped out in “Game of Thrones”). His involvement in the downfall of the Cali Carte in season three of the show is purely fictional, as he was not involved in that risky operation.

3. Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha

Credit: Gonzalo. Digital Image. El Heraldo. March 9, 2018.

An old-school drug lord who began his criminal career dealing with emeralds. His knowledge of trade routes made him a key element of the Medellin Cartel. His nickname was “El Mexicano” because of his love for old mariachi movies and music. He was gunned down in 1989.

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV Gacha: One of our fave Latino actors, Luis Guzmán, portrayed “El Mexicano” in “Narcos.” It’s all good, but what does the fact that a Puerto Rican actor plays a Colombian tell us about typecasting in Hollywood? Are there not enough Colombians auditioning in Hollywood?

4. Virginia Vallejo / Valeria Vélez

Credit: Virgina. Digital Image. Wikipedia. 

The producers decided to change the name of this key character in Escobar’s epic story. Virginia Vallejo is a TV journalist who was romantically involved with Escobar. She went into exile in the U.S. in 2006 after denouncing the involvement of politicians with the cartels. In 2007 she wrote a memoir: “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar.”

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV Valeria Vélez: This fictional character based on Vallejo was portrayed by Mexican-American actress Stephanie Sigman. The steamy scenes between her and Escobar are a bit gratuitous.

Read: El Chapo’s Text Exchange with Kate Will Give You Relationship Envy

5. Hélmer “Pacho” Herrera

Credit: Pancho. Digital Image. Entity. August 8, 2017.

One of the key figures in the Cali Cartel who also went by the monickers of “H7” and “Robapapas” (Potato stealer). He was a master money launderer, which guaranteed his rise in the organization. He was captured in 1996 and killed in jail two years later during a soccer match.

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV Pacho: Sometimes being powerful translates into being yourself. The “Narcos” version of “Pacho” became a queer symbol, an openly gay narco whose main show of power is dancing with and kissing his boyfriend in a bar full of macho thugs.

Read: The Social Media Posts of El Chapo’s Sons And Other Narcos Are Still Online For Everyone To See

6. President César Gaviria

Credit: Presidente Gaviria. Digital Image. Philippine News. February 11, 2017.

The rise of the cartels benefited from generations of corrupt politicians in Colombia. This is why the presidency of Gaviria stands out: he was tough with the cartels while being a master negotiator. Escobar was shot during his presidency. He later became the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States.

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV President: In “Narcos” he is portrayed by Mexican actor Raul Mendez in perhaps his finest and most underrated performance in the show. President Gaviria is shown as a calculative politician who was determined in capturing Escobar at any cost.

Read: 20 Facts To Know About Colombia Before You Make That Big Trip

7. Amado Carrillo Fuentes a.k.a. El Señor de Los Cielos

Credit: Amado. Digital Image. The Economic Times. January 22, 2017.

Amado Carrillo Fuentes had perhaps the most hazardous life the drug world has known. He became a master smuggler in the U.S.-Mexico border. He infamously died during a plastic surgery procedure that would alter his facial features to avoid capture. His saga is told in the narcotelenovela “El Señor de Los Cielos.”

Credit: Narcos. Netflix

The TV Señor de Los Cielos: With none of the main characters returning for “Narcos: Mexico,” this character is the link between seasons 3 and 4 of the show. José María Yazpik plays Carrillo Fuentes as a free-spirited norteño with an indomitable nature.

Read: 20 Things on Netflix Latinas Should Binge

8. Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela

Credit: Narcos. Netflix / Gilberto. Digital image. Die Young. August 1, 2017.

One of the founders of the infamous Cali Cartel, Don Gilberto was Escobar’s nemesis. Whereas Escobar resolved issues through violence, Gilberto preferred to bribe cops and politicians. He is currently serving a 30-year sentence.

The TV Gilberto: He is played in the show by legendary Mexican actor Damián Alcázar, who creates a glamourized version of the narco. Perhaps modeled after one of the Corleones, Gilberto is a skillful orator and a businessman of impeccable taste who despised violence.  

Read: Here’s the Top 24 Netflix Original Shows Created By Latinxs 

“Narcos: Mexico”

9. Ernesto “Don Neto” Fonseca Carrillo

Credit: Joaquín. Digital Image. CMX / Neto. Digital Image. Vice. July 28, 2016.

Fonseca Carrillo could very well be considered the father of the Mexican cartels. He founded the Guadalajara Cartel, which later branched out into the many criminal organizations we know today. Don Neto is responsible for the killing of DEA Agent, Enrique Camarena, who will also appear in “Narcos: México”. He is currently serving the last 9 years of a 40-year sentence in house arrest. Joaquín Cosío will be portraying the role of Rafael Fonseca Carrillo.

10. Rafael Caro Quintero

Credit: Tenoch. Digital Image. có December 21, 2017. / Rafael. Digital Image. El Universal. April 12, 2018.

Rafael is one of the most looked-after fugitives in the world. He was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1970s, from which kingpins like El Chapo emerged. He’s also responsible for the death of Enrique Camarena, even though he has denied it. Tenoch Huerta will be playing the role of Caro Quintero.

Read: Here’s The Insane Story of Mexico’s Most Famous Female Serial Killer

11. Benjamín Arellano Félix

Credit: Alfonso. Digital Image. Plano Informativo. May 16, 2017 / Benjamín. Digital Image. La Polaka. January 23, 2015.

Together with his brother Ramón he formed and led the Tijuana Cartel, which held a long and bloody war with El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel. After being extradited in 2011, he now serves sentence in the United States. Telenovela heartthrob Alfonso Dosal will play the part of Arellano Félix