Inside the home where Torres was slain, detectives found a man barely alive who'd been shot in the back. Inside a sauna in Torres' bedroom, they found two duffel bags crammed with 40 handguns and assault rifles. Wedged between his mattress and spring box was a short rifle. Over his bedroom door a sign read "EZ Street."

"None of the cars were registered in his [real] name," says Detective Gonzales. "He had no ties to anything. We talked to many of the neighbors, and they had no idea. They just knew him as Sam. There were multiple people who said, 'Nice guy, we never would have known.' "

Detectives also found a high-tech system of monitors that would later provide chilling video evidence pointing directly to Torres' friend Smiley as his killer.

Brian Stauffer
Sigreda Fernandez, holding the baby she had with Jose "Smiley" Saenz, was assassinated by Smiley to keep her quiet.
Sigreda Fernandez, holding the baby she had with Jose "Smiley" Saenz, was assassinated by Smiley to keep her quiet.

Anthony Limon, the victim found shot in the back, told detectives that he'd agreed as a favor to limo-service owner "Sam" to ferry around four guys in his Hummer limo that night, picking up the first three and taking them to a spot in the Long Beach area — the upscale Elephant Bar Restaurant in suburban Lakewood — where they picked up Smiley. Then it was on to El Parral Club in working-class South Gate, then several hours cruising in Hollywood, then back to Lakewood.

But one of the guys, who police later determined was Saenz, was restless. He ordered Limon to drive to Montebello, then at 5 a.m. ordered him to drive to the limo owner's home in Whittier.

Later, at a dramatic meeting between Traci Gonzales and FBI special agent Garriola, she showed him the video retrieved from that night. Like a scene out of The Ring, the video flickers with shadowy, ethereal black-and-white images of Saenz smiling and rubbing his hands together gleefully while knocking repeatedly on Torres' door. At one point, Saenz reaches into his pants pocket to check on something.

Torres is seen opening the door in his underwear, and the men barge in. Limon told police that inside, Smiley pulled a gun on Torres, so Limon jumped in front of Torres and pleaded with Smiley to calm down. Instead, Limon was hit on the head, and as he fell he heard one of the men he'd driven around all night bark out: "Dome him!" — street lingo for a bullet to the head. Before the shot slammed into his back, he recalled to cops, Limon heard someone giggle.

It was all about that vast amount of cash sitting back in Missouri, confiscated three months earlier by the St. Charles County cops who had pulled Torres over. "There was some money owed and a timetable," Garriola says. "Oscar didn't meet it."

Gonzales says Torres already had been forced, either by the local Mexican Mafia or the cartels in Mexico, to prove that the money had really been confiscated by the St. Charles deputies. "We heard through informants he took the letter [a receipt provided by the Missouri cops] and showed it to his people," she says.

A month after Torres' murder, Smiley's cousin Johnny Prado, who clearly can be seen in the video, was arrested for murder and attempted murder, and last November he went to prison for 26 years. His friends told police that he was an industrious construction worker, but Chavarria says Prado couldn't get away from the East L.A. gangs. "When they get older, they still have an allegiance," he says. "If they are called upon, they have to step up."

Smiley is still out there, crossing back and forth between Mexico and California, cashing in and spreading mayhem. "It is like chasing a ghost," Chavarria notes.

Bogart Bello's gravesite at the Calvary Mortuary in East Los Angeles is on a hill that overlooks the Guadalupe Church on Third Street and the gang territory where he grew up with his childhood friends Torres and Ontiveros. His tombstone reads: "Forever Living On The Top," an homage to his Lott gang. Most of those buried nearby are long dead, and visitors are few. But Efrain Bello tends his brother's site religiously.

"The police don't care," says Bello of his brother Bogart's death. "It's like another drug dealer dead. I don't think my life can continue until there is justice for my brother. To me, it was the worst thing that could ever happen."

Efrain says Bogart Bello and Rolo Ontiveros became big-time dealers because they and their families "were dirt-poor." He admits that Bello earned his first $1 million by age 19, and by 2008 was reaping $25,000 monthly thanks to cocaine funneled from Mexico. Among his best coke customers were downtown L.A.'s lawyer population.

But, he says, his brother tried to go into a legit business by founding Lott Records and producing a number of rap songs, whose lyrics were often about the Lott gang.

In 2008, Bello was found dead in the backseat of his Audi Q7 on Chamberlain Street in Mission Hills, a stone's throw from the Ronald Reagan Freeway. After police turned up few clues, a detective hired by Efrain discovered that Bello and Smiley had just been involved in a drug deal in which Smiley disliked the quality of the coke and "took it as a great disrespect."

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25 comments
Jrfrk01
Jrfrk01

California"s not mexico?

ByteRider
ByteRider

What an awesome and scary story, Christine. Thank you! Now, could you run a copy past Lemons before he writes another article that puts the Copy Editor on suicide watch? Thanks.

Ace08650
Ace08650

And it's more of these people you folks want coming here,right? These upstanding model citizen types like this Saenz person? You people at New Times are just as obteuse as president Obama. I fail to understand why you love these people so much, and seem to want the dissolution of the border so that the American taxpayer can support them medically,economically, and education wise. It has to stop somewhere.SB 1070 clearly sends the message, the time is NOW ,the place is HERE.

billy
billy

I agree with the one guy.......tell stories about all the good stuff hispanics have done and do. I am white, but know a lot of so-called "hispanics" I think all the labels of color and creed are really stupid and perpetuated by liberals in office using minorities for political means. Exploitation is rampant, but a white, semi-conservative I am not anti-hispanic in any way but totally against illegal immigration from any country.

rsepoca
rsepoca

When are we/those gonna learn that a piece of shit will always be just that...damn what has America come too? We all have an obligation to stop paying for the criminals/illegals in the US....hang all the MF'ing criminals/illegals...bring capital punishment back and stop wasting taxpayers money!!!!

C. Randall
C. Randall

As long as gang-bangers want to kill each other, I fully support it. Every one of them shot means one less in our society. The killing of the girlfriend was sad, but when you lay down with dogs you're gonna get fleas.

Linda
Linda

This article illustrates why Governor Brewer is taking action to prevent Arizona from becoming another California. Those yahoos on the L.A. Council who are boycotting want more Mexicans to come here to take over the entire southwest. Then what? Another cess pool like L.A. They attend college at taxpayers' expense, major in ethnic studies like Villaraigosa and then set out to destroy everything we have accomplished in this country. Further, it was not the Mexicans who settled the southwest. It was the Spaniards, as well as people from England, Germany, and France. There was no such thing as a Mexican.

Hammerhead
Hammerhead

Hopefully the mexican police will find his dead body in the bottom of a pit.

dopey
dopey

this guy in an AMERICAN institution!!! we liberals love this guy!! we like to make them famous, write articles about them , raise thier prestige, this guy is perfect to run the jails too!!! and proudly he will!!here at the new times we support all liberals!!!!! it works so well, we are proud to do our part, with a name like smilly!!!!! he can be on obamas cabinet!!!! go smilly we love you!!!!!!!!!

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phill
phill

Deporting all the immigrants will not solve cartel violence problems. The best thing to combat these mafias is to bring these drugs under control through legalization and tax the living daylights out of this stuff and then educate everyone about the dangers of these products like the government does with tobacco and alcohol. This problem will persist as long as the money stays lucrative and it is easy to get rich quick.

phxstreets
phxstreets

yet ANOTHER criminal who ought to have been born to ravage a different country because of his rich Mexican cultural heritage.

This is not news. This is typical of Arizona and California because there is no security on the border. Travis Murphy was murdered because of NO border security. If the MURDERER would have been born in his MOTHER'S country of origin and LANGUAGE, and if his MOTHER never had the opportunity to break our laws, Officer Murphy would be alive. How many of our law enforcement public servants would be alive today if illegals were not extended that ridiculous welfare benefit of legitimizing their unending offspring by virtue of birth over the border?

Anyone want to tackle that question? It seems that our university researchers are afraid to delve into that issue.

Hey. How about we allow EVERYONE on the FACE of the EARTH to become an AMERICAN CITIZEN if only they make it through the "harsh" Arizona desert and immediately have unprotected SEX??

To you intelligent ( oh, probably genius ) professors, how long until the state is TOTALLY bankrupt?

In order to avoid bankruptcy, how about we simply make AZ a part of Mexico? Mexicans believe they belong here. We can just let them have this wasteland of filth and stickers and dirty alleys.

Provided they do not attempt agree not to penetrate Utah (HA HA HA)

Roy Lorenz
Roy Lorenz

Why spend your talented resources on someone who chose such violent and negative path. There are many Hispanic-Americans who have overcome extremely impoverished circumstances through dedication and perseverance, their stories need to be known!

WenG
WenG

Sloppy police work + laws preventing police (the ones who are awake) from detaining you unless you've committed a felony + drug violence. Check, check, and check. SB 1070 was inevitable. Arizona reminds me of a drunk with clinical depression. Once the drunk is sober, they're still a pain in the ass to live with. Taking the emotion out of the equation, legalize everything and put Arpaio and the cartels out of business in one move. Force MX into parity. If they treat their citizens like crap, give the U.S. something in return for providing asylum and/or citizenship.

jan
jan

A well researched article. I agree with the 1st comment. I too am confused regarding the author trying to highlight life as a hispanic/Mexican. This article is of horror and mayhem. I bet you if you gave each of the people in the projects the opportunity to "escape" and never see another hispanic. They would take it. I too am an immigrant. I have sacrificed everything to give my children and the next generation a better life. I believe you always have a choice. It is what you do to get what you want. Is the the choice one that would lead to a better life or violence, murder, rape, horror. If you look at what was highlighted in this article. the movement of people across borders, criminals, etc. These are people that have only greed and self in mind. Others as I did come here to create a new reality. just go and look at Mexico and their laws around immigration. Wow. It is a failure as a state/country...is there any goodness or joy eft in this world. This guy in this article and the person that romanticize him (author) and his culture is such a farce. That is the very reason a law like SB1070 is written, You manage to the lowest common denominator. Not the poor people that cross the border, desperate, trying to escape a failed state/country. God bless America. In Rome you do as the Romans do.

ajibik
ajibik

I agree with Willy, but with the added feature that we make it retroactive to ALL non-indigenous people living here from 1442 on.

Rachael
Rachael

I'm confused by the "Editor's Note" at the beginning of this article. It states that the VVM is "telling the story of Hispanics among us...and the struggles they face." This story is about a criminal, regardless of race, he is a criminal. What this story has to do with our national illegal-immigration problem is lost on me. And Arizona is not full of clowns, but rather a people who are tired of not having our Federal government enforce it's own laws. With the clown name calling comment you have yourself proven to pass judgment on a people whom you know nothing about.

Bob Johnson
Bob Johnson

Law enforcement had him and they let him go. They have nothing to comaplain about as he luxuriates in his heinous depravity. And thus his carnage continues unabated. Anyone mind if he is shot dead upon sight? Girlymen? Tissue Queens? Leotard Lawyers?

jay
jay

I totally agree with betterthanyou, willy whacker is everything better called him. people like willy are the reason we all get called racist. (I"m a 60 year old white guy) and I"d really like to think that willy is the minority. If it was a choice of shooting a hispanic (as he suggests)or willy ,,,,bye,bye willy

betterthanyou
betterthanyou

Wow, WillyWhacker (and it sounds like you like to whack yourself a lot) what a piece of filthy, racist sh*t you are. You're no better than the trash this article was written about. You should all be let loose together on some desert island where you will hopefully all off each other and leave Planet Earth for those of us who AREN'T inbred knuckle draggers. You should move to Arizona to hang out with other clowns of your kind.

WillyWhacker
WillyWhacker

This is why we should implant a surveillance chip in every mexican so we can track them on satellite. If we find a mexican without a chip, we shoot them. Racial profiling is necessary to wipe out these kinds of criminal sydicates.

MXSKS
MXSKS

sends money for support her???!!!...you're kidding Kristine...obviously you didn't ready the part what he did to the mother...first raped then shot in head...to you understand the gravity of the things this human excrement did...caring is the last thing in his dictionary, he is a ruthless thug/maniac who I hope will one day get what he deserves and I am not talking about prison…that’s way too good of an ending to this story.

Larry in Oak Cliff
Larry in Oak Cliff

What a sad story. With that said, he played the gangster life. In my world, he's just another player with a gun who failed his family.

The one good thing about his death: He is no longer harming anyone. He was a criminal psychopath. Nothing more and nothing less.

Kristine
Kristine

What a well written story... sad and chilling to know that there are murderers on our street, passing by in cars or on foot, free for years and years, while families continue to mourn.What a shame for Smiley's daughter. I wonder if she knows the truth about her father, or if he sends money to support her.

Think Tonya Craft and her ex
Think Tonya Craft and her ex

Makes one wonder how many fathers have harmed their daughter's Mother. Even more deviously than using a gun. On this Father's Day week-end, it's also time to remember the father's who have destroyed their wives, ex-wives for their own self-interest and caused great harm to their children that will remain with them forever.

 
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