Marked Man

Felix Medina and his gang compatriots ruthlessly ruled a south central neighborhood. Now the party's over.

Medina was released from prison in September 1996 and returned immediately to the Milpas to join his fellow LCM gangsters. Doing time elevated him to the top classification in gangland -- grande or veterano.

The only thing higher was to be the leader of the gang. One way to accomplish that was to let everybody in the Milpas know his story. There was no need for talk.

"He would walk around without his shirt all the time," recalls one LCM member. "He's got a lot of tattoos and wanted to show them off."

The Eastside LCM gang house on South 13th Place.
courtesy of Phoenix Police Department
The Eastside LCM gang house on South 13th Place.
Phoenix Police Detective Derek Stephenson directed the gang racketeering investigation that led to Medina's arrest.
Paolo Vescia
Phoenix Police Detective Derek Stephenson directed the gang racketeering investigation that led to Medina's arrest.

Another route to the top was to commit outrageous crimes. Medina went on a crime spree in the fall of 1998.

According to police reports, in September 1998, Medina allegedly grabbed a gun out of a man's hand, punched the man in the face and pointed the gun at him. Medina then allegedly demanded that the man turn over a second gun, which he had tucked into his belt. The man complied.

On October 13, 1998, police allege that Medina pulled a gun on a man attempting to buy marijuana and demanded the man's money. When the man refused, Medina pistol-whipped him until the man turned over $200.

In December, police allege, Medina stood in the middle of a street brandishing a gun. When a car approached, he pointed the gun at the driver's head and yelled, "I'll shoot you." Medina ordered the victim to give him his money and yanked jewelry from the driver's neck, yelling, "Puro LCM!"

On December 11, police allege Medina threatened to shoot the driver of a parked truck unless he gave Medina and another gang member a set of wheel rims in the back of the truck.

At the same time Medina was on the alleged crime spree, gang members say he also was using a powerful combination of crack and marijuana called primo. The drug, which has effects similar to PCP, made Medina's behavior even more unpredictable.

"He started smoking that and people were just like standing still, afraid to move and not doing anything to piss him off," says one gang associate.

Felix Medina was in complete control of Eastside LCM.

A man named Gordo was the main crack source in the Milpas, police say. He set up shop not far from the LCM gang house on South 13th Place. The illegal alien had drug ties to Mexico and could bring in plenty of dope.

"That wetback was, like, just scary, man," Medina said during his police interrogation.

But Gordo wasn't scary enough to stand on his own. Gordo needed protection from rip-offs. Medina and his LCM crew fit the bill.

"He used to tell me, 'Hey, Gato, take care of him [Gordo]. Make sure nobody tries to jack [rob] him,'" Medina said.

Medina was happy to oblige, as long as Gordo kept him supplied with drugs.

"I would have dope all the time and just kick it," Medina said. "That's how I stood [sic] high."

Before long, other LCM members followed Medina's lead and were hitting drugs hard at the party house, which lacked water and electricity but was booby-trapped with carpet-covered holes where an unknowing person like a cop could fall through.

Unlike Medina, the LCM lieutenants had to pay for their drug habits. That's when jacking for crack became a favorite pastime.

"They were jacking motherfuckers like crazy," says a gang member who, fearing retribution, asked to be known as Jose.

Crackheads from across the city would converge on South 13th Place, looking for a deal. They frequently were met by LCM members who would literally steal cash out of their hands, Jose says in a taped interview.

In fact, the crack-jacking spectacle became a favorite amusement.

"We would watch them all day long, dude -- just jacking people. Left and right. Left and right. Left and right. Then buy some crack, and then smoke the crack, jack somebody, buy some crack, smoke the crack, jack somebody. We would just watch it all day long, fucking laughing," says Jose.

Sometimes the crackheads would complain about being ripped off.

"They would come and stop right where we are, and yell, 'Hey, motherfucker!...' We ain't going to take no shit, especially from a crackhead. So we get up and if they won't fucking get out, we beat them up and kick them out of the neighborhood.

"A lot of times, it didn't have to come to that. They would just say, 'That's fucked up.... Why did you guys do me like that?' And we say, 'We didn't do you like shit.'"

LCM members would deliver the absurd truth to the dopers: "You got jacked by another crackhead who wants the hit worse than you do," Jose says.

Another gang member, "Ricardo," tells New Times that Medina would demand cash from Gordo and his associates -- as much as $6,000 a day -- a sum police could not confirm.

"They really couldn't say too much because we had a little army backing him," says Ricardo. "Either get shipped out of here or your house burns up, either way.

"These guys weren't playing around. They had grenades, AK-47s. Really, they had better guns than the police. Fully automatics, semiautomatics, dynamite."

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