Dealing With the Devil

When the Deuce-Seven Bloods went hunting for a snitch, they shot Venus Montoya instead.

After Antonio was sentenced, Theresa had again called on Lynn, now a counselor at Lookout, and begged him to watch out for her boy.

The first reports from Lynn were frightening. The Crips at the detention center outnumbered the Bloods two to one, and they were waiting for Antonio. "Hey, there's the motherfucker who shot our homeboy!" someone yelled when they brought him through the gates in handcuffs and shackles. The boys inside the dormitories had begun beating on their windows. "It sounded like a storm," Lynn told her. "'We gonna git you, Boom.'"

But Lynn, who'd started Lookout's first gang counseling group to find common ground between Bloods and Crips, skinheads and blacks, arranged a truce. And so Antonio had quietly done his thirteen months, going to class every day and working on his art.

Danny, too, was doing better. Living with Bill, he'd even received his high-school equivalency degree. But Danny got homesick and returned to Denver when Pancho was getting out of Lookout Mountain, in early summer 1990.

When Danny enrolled at the Colorado Institute of Art to study broadcast journalism, Theresa dared to hope. He had always been a people person with a gift for gab; she even secured a federal grant to help him pay for school. But before she could put it in his bank account, she had to send it back: Danny had dropped out of school.

His girlfriend, Terry, was pregnant with twins. Her family thought the right thing for him to do was to go to work to support their children. So he got a job working as a busboy, but that didn't last long. There was more money in dealing drugs.

"He had the connections," Theresa recalls. "Even when he'd say, 'Okay, that's the last one, I'm not doing this anymore,' there'd be a telephone call for 'just one more time.' It was appealing--go pick something up from Point A and deliver it to Point B and make a thousand or five thousand dollars."

So Danny was up to his old tricks when Antonio was finally released from Lookout Mountain after thirteen months, in August 1990. As he got in his mother's car to go home, back to 2727 California, Antonio scooted over next to her. He suddenly lifted his hand to cover his eyes. She asked what was wrong.

"Mom, I can't do it. I want to go back."
Theresa pauses to let the memory pass. Her dark-brown eyes are wet and shiny. Behind her stands the house that symbolizes all that has gone wrong.

They named their gang after that house. The Deuce-Seven. And now where were they? Little Frankie sentenced in February 1998, just three days shy of his seventeenth birthday, to spend the rest of his life in prison. Pancho going on trial that fall, maybe to face the death penalty. And Danny set for trial a few months after that...all for what the Deuce-Seven had done to that little girl.

Now Antonio was out there, trying to stay out of trouble. Unprotected, most of the members of his set dead or in prison.

"He was safe and happy when he was locked up," Theresa remembers. "You know, I sometimes believe that a lot of these kids think that way."

March 1, 1998
"What do you say after you kill the nineteen-year-old mother of a four-year-old boy? What do you say after you've blown the right side of her face off with a semi-automatic assault rifle?

"What do you say if she's someone you did not even know?"
Deputy District Attorney Sargent pauses in front of the jury, then walks over toward the defense table and points at Alejandro "Speed" Ornelas.

"If you're this man, what you say is, 'I smoked the bitch.'"
Twenty-two-year-old Ornelas watches Sargent like a hawk watches a field mouse. Only this time, he is not the predator but the prey.

Ornelas is on trial for first-degree murder, with the added sentence-enhancer of "with extreme indifference for human life." The life of Venus Montoya.

"Why did Alejandro kill Venus?" Sargent asks, then answers. "Tragically, the fact is, this had absolutely nothing to do with her. He was looking for an informant named Salvino Martinez."

On July 19, 1996, after a night of drinking, Sammy "Zig Zag" Quintana Jr. and Alejandro Ornelas had changed into dark clothing and gone hunting for Salvino. Alejandro's older brother, Gerard, was driving.

Word on the street was that Sal was the "confidential informant" who'd turned in the Martinez brothers (no relation), Danny and Antonio, for selling marijuana. And on these streets, a snitch had to die, even if he was another Blood.

The Ornelas brothers had their own reasons for going after Sal. They were sure that the hefty six-footer had opened fire on their mother's house with an assault rifle. And that he'd threatened their sister with a shotgun.

Add to that the fact that they just plain didn't like him. Salvino may have been a Crenshaw Mafia Gangster Blood, but he wasn't a Deuce-Seven. Now they referred to him as "Sal Snitcho."

The hunters drove to a low-rent apartment complex off Sheridan Boulevard in Lakewood. An uncle of the Ornelas brothers had reported seeing Salvino at one of the apartments. Number 52.

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