tv Lockup Raw MSNBC December 10, 2016 1:00am-2:01am PST
viewer discretion is advised. follow "lockup" producers follow "lockup" producers and crews as they go behind the walls of america's prisons and jails with scenes you've never seen. "lockup: raw." >> unlike prison, all inmates are convicted, most jail inmates are only charged with crimes and waiting trial with resolution of their cases. both prisons and jails deal with common problem -- gangs. and for some, suppressing gang activity is a daily challenge that comes with life or death consequences.
>> slide out. slide out. on your stomach. keep going now. that's fine. >> on front line of the battles are gang investigators. >> they have walk a fine line, managing a difficult relationship with dangerous inmates and each one has a different way of doing business. but the investigator we met in cleveland really stood out from the crowd. >> clear. seven. look at me. >> he's known at the cuyahoga county correction center in downtown cleveland as big sam. >> you used him. who's the victim? you sit here won't even open your mouth to tell me nothing about what these guys did -- >> we quickly learned gang investigator sam mclaren had a personality to match his physique. >> big sam's style was one of dedication and passion. >> you have that candy -- >> sweet. >> i'll see you later. >> thank you. >> you take care of yourself.
>> he could be very caring and heartfelt in his communication, but he could also be very loud and bombastic when he felt he was being disrespected or lied to. >> this ain't no game! ain't no deals! personally going to see you, my friend. because i've been laughing since i've seen you. >> a change in these young men's lives. one example of how sam cared about the inmates, inmate tony goodwin. someone's story we have been following for a while. everybody expected him to be convicted of a murder charge and face a long term in prison. we, the jury, fine the defendant not guilty of aggravated murder. >> but tony got a lesser conviction and going to serve a smaller time in prison. big sam had known tony goodwin for years. >> tony. >> sam. >> tony came into the facility as a minor and sam had watched him grow up, and one day i saw sam sitting at a table and i
could hear sam counseling tony. >> now you have that opportunity to get back in the mainstream with your family. >> he was obviously talking to him about trying to avoid gang activity and stay on the right path, but it was a heartfelt communication. >> this time, you're afraid of what tomorrow might be, you're afraid of what's going to happen, you're afraid of what your friends are going to be, but you've got to understand, what is this going to cause tony? this is the opportunity, tony. i'm glad. >> thank you. >> i really am. >> i'm going to do something with it. while mclaren stayed on top of the activities of several gangs, one in particular required most of his attention. the jail's largest and most violent gang, the heartless felons. >> heartless felons is a gang that was basically established in our facilities, some young individuals, many of them, was
upset and tired of how they was being treated, how they were being disrespected. they formed, they retaliated against anyone they felt disrespected them. >> they pressed other individuals to join, to distort, you name it, they do it. become very violent, they're persistent. and they don't mind to lend people know what they generally is. they'll say, i want your food tray, give it here. you don't do anything about it. they got you. then, after a while, they'll you you want us to stop picking on you, you have to join us. you don't want to continue to his v. his food taken, he don't want to continue to give us his tray, he'll do what they ask him to do. so what he do? he'll do the same thing that they did to him. >> there's been a rash of heartless felon activity in which they assaulted other inmates, and stole food or other items from the jail commissary.
>> took all of our stuff. >> he visited a housing unit in which many of the problems occurred. he put the heartless felons on notice. >> this my jail. ain't nobody in here going to run nothing in here but me. what you need to do is lay it down. >> three of the inmates in the unit, however, were pulled aside. they were confirmed by the jail to be heartless felons. but they had not been associated with any of the recent thefts. warden ivy decided they should be placed in general population, freeing themselves for more problematic heartless felons from other housing units. >> stand in the hallway. >> one point we were filming and i could hear sam yelling, and i thought he was yelling angrily at somebody. quickly grabbed brian, our cameraman, there was sam. mr. bill, mr. jackson, mr. washington -- >> delivering this sermon. >> when you hear people say the men in black, they don't give a care, they don't have no love, i tell you yes, they do.
understand, mr. bill, mr. jackson, mr. washington, this is your opportunity at this time to make a choice. >> it was almost like a warning, and then as i was listening to him and it just got loud somewhere more impassioned as he went, i realized he was making sure that everybody, all of the inmates, knew what was going on, these three guys were getting a second chance. >> now, i want you to show them, i want you to show this department that you can stand and make a difference. i know you might say, big sam, i don't think he's talking to me right. i just want you to know, that's just the way it is. nothing personal. this is a jail. you got a life ahead of you. what you do with it is on you. >> at one point in the speech, big sam was warning these inmates that because they were being let out of the situation, they may be viewed as snitches. >> you know just as well as i do, it will come back. why they let bill out?
why he's not standing with the fam? why they let jackson out? why he's not standing with the fam. why they let washington out? why he's not standing with the fam, you have to answer. >> they were not snitches but you have to stand up if you want to walk the right line, if you want 0 to get out of the lockup situation you have to stand up and be an individual versus a group think, like most gang members. >> do you have the heart? do you have the courage? it's easy to follow. i say to you all today, follow your own mind, be your own leader, be your own man. >> this is what i admired about sam, he had this underlying goal to get these guys out of the gang, show them another way. >> i tell you this, it's nothing personal, you come back this way, for any reason, you'll be in there with them, or if you're successful, not only in your
life but in your case, everybody understand? we thank you. >> coming up -- >> chapman is an orchestrator. >> he calls the shots. >> a heartless felon leader explains the philosophy on theft. >> stealing is going behind somebody's back and taken it. taking is going up to you, i'm going to get the watch, if you don't give it to me, i'm going to beat you and take it. >> first, the man in the middle of the violent gang conflict inside san antonio's largest jail. >> the mexican mafia have a very different personality. you can spot them just by talking to them.
our first "extended stay" shoot in texas, it didn't take long for one of our crew members to realize he wasn't in los angeles anymore. on day one, jacob was assigned to a nearby rooftop in order to shoot time lapse of the city jail. >> i never thought shooting time lapse on the roof would be so hot. there's a cold air duct here. it's like literally a savior at this point. if it wasn't for this, i might have to tap out. >> code 2. code 2. >> during the months we spent in san antonio, to shoot our "extended stay" series, we discovered a source inside the county jail as well. a bitter gang rivalry. and in the middle of it was officer rodriguez, the jail's gang investigator. >> you're next. lock you down. >> for what? >> i saw you throw your -- >> new york i was putting my shirt up. >> s.o.s. >> i was watching it. >> officer rodriguez is an expert on gangs and loves being an expert on gangs.
he's fascinated with the political structure, fascinated with how gangs are changing. he's tough but fair. talks to the gang members in a very respectful way. >> can't stay in population. ever been part of a gang before this? >> helps them figure out what is the best way for them to make it through the system and make it through the system safely. >> let get you back in your cell. >> [ bleep ] upstairs. >> dozens of identified gang in the bexar county jail, two most dominant and dangerous are the texas mexican mafia and the tango blast, once family, but now enemies the texas mexican mafia started in early '80s and they began very small prison gang, as time went on, the numbers obviously grew through due to recruitment. and those recruited members now
became known as big ears, but it also has like a slang meaning, nosy, like you're listening out. so the san antonio inmates took this name, they were proud of it. >> according to officer rodriguez, the recruits were not often rewarded for the dangerous jobs they were assigned. >> these new recruits, they were abused early on in the mid to late '80s. they were used for all of the job, the suicide missions if you want to call them that, jobs you knew you were going to get caught doing. those referred to these guy as crash dummies. they said, you're going to do this job, and get it done. now they kind of started thinking about it why are we doing all of these jobs and
we're not get anything out of it? and as time progressed, they realized that, they outnumbered the true members of the mexican mafia. so in 1997, they decided to break away. >> even though the two feuding gangs were cut from the same cloth, today, they're very different. >> the mexican mafia and the orejones have a different personality. you can spot them by talking to them. >> mexican mafia members tend to be older, run their gang with a military-like hierarchy and strict accordance to rules. >> they do not want media attention. the mexican mafia would not talk to us at all. >> they keep a low profile in jail and prison, directing criminal enterprises on the streets. >> they know how to talk to correctional staff and officers here. you see a difference in the respect issue. yes, sir, no, sir. >> thank you, sir. >> uh-huh. >> sorry to bother you. >> thank you. >> they do everything under the table. there's no need to try to intimidate any longer. their name alone provides that command presence. versus a very young group, trying to get their name out, trying to let people know, look, we're aggressive, very intimidating, they're more likely to be very disrespectful, more likely to be
anti-authority, more likely to be disruptive in the living units. >> nothing can prepare you for going into the unit. you realize these are a bunch of young men with a lot of energy a lot of anger, feel tremendously gauged in, and they start banging and yelling and screaming. >> a show of force and dominance, the orejones wanted everyone to know that they were the dominant group there. but i really felt bad for our audio mixer. >> recording audio here. >> as you can tell, recording sound here is a real pleasure. there is a lot of background noise. >> 210, that is the area code for the san antonio area.
so what they're trying to tell everybody is san antonio is better than everything in the world. >> when we first entered the orejone units, we wondered whether the media was there, they were acting up for us. the staff told us, no, generally that's the way they are. they may be act more for you, but they're normally that loud. and i thought to myself, i'm only here for a short period of time, i really doesn't know how these officers stand it all throughout their shift, because the noise was deafening. >> everybody thinks that this job that we have is such a gravy job and such an easy job. i challenge anybody come in here, work this job for a week, and see if we're overpaid.
>> to give you an example of how different the mexican mafia units are from the orejones, there was one incident where we were filming a cell inspection. >> we came on shift today and it was reported by first detail that a couple of razors were missing from pencil sharpeners. >> get down low. >> when the officers go in and do a check on their property and find out a razor blade's missing, everything stops. >> no property of the jails can go missing because you can turn anything into a shank. >> down on the floor, any sudden moves will be taken as aggressive and we will use force on you. >> exactly the kind of attention mexican mafia leaders want to avoid. >> they want to ignore, so they can engage in their criminal enterprises while they're in our facility. >> we went in, started shaking down the cells, looking for contraband, in addition to razor blades. we will continue to search and they won't like the results.
>> eventually, sergeant overstreet got on the loudspeaker and asked for whoever has the pencil sharpener to give it up. >> i told them, give up the razors, then five minutes they showed up. they were thrown out. and to the day room area. we don't know who threw them out. they're pretty sneaky when it comes to that, but they threw it out. mexican mafia leadership, not going to be happy, i don't think. and they are going to look into who took those razors. and i'm sure that they're probably going to say something to those individuals who are responsible for taking them. hopefully nothing will come out of it and nothing more than maybe a verbal, don't do that, is what we're hoping but then again, we don't know. >> coming up -- the informant explained he was given direct orders to engage in a riot. >> the story behind the gang riot that rocked the jail.
in 210, san antonio. >> represent 210. >> our gang coverage in san antonio revolved around a rivalry, there was a different story inside cleveland's cuyahoga county correction center. most of the problems there swirled around one dominant gang. >> oh, that's raw. >> the heartless felons. but its members referred to it by another name, the family. because they say that's what they really are. >> heartless felon is like a family for real. it started for me in juvenile, people from other cities, they here, columbus, cincinnati, they go down there, take our stuff, and pick on us, we formed a group. when they take our stuff, we go, get our group together, we go fight them and get our stuff back. >> pierre chatman was the first heartless felon who agreed to
talk to me. >> the system call it a gang. it ain't no gang, though. it's a family for real. it's just people sticking up for each other, that's all. >> you can see part of what the draw was. here are kids in juvenile jails, probably without family support, probably without resources, and they're being offered this family-like situation, where you're going to be protected, part of something bigger, and pierre really embraced that. >> pierre chatman. pierre chatman is an orchestrator. he orchestrates. he calls the shots. pierre, as a whole, he's -- he's a nice guy but, you know, i wouldn't turn my back on him too much, though. >> gang investigator sam mclaren felt the same way about the rest 0 the heartless felons as well. >> you lying to me. we have a problem with the heartless felon gang. they constantly always involved in extorting, threatening, manipulating.
>> we met numerous victim of the heartless felon, a gang best known for stealing commissary items from other inmates and often those thefts were accompanied by violence. >> slapped me. [ bleep ]. >> one guy steal it divide it up in three, four different cells. like a lion out hunting, one lion might not eat today but take part in the hunt or eat what's left over. this is how they are. >> but the heartless felons say stealing is against their rules. >> one thing the heartless felons, don't steal. we take, we take it while they're there. we don't steal something, we don't do. >> chatman, who is awaiting trial for aggravated murder, to which he pled not guilty, clarified the heartless felons don't steal, they take. >> stealing is going behind somebody back and taking it. taking is going in their face, telling this mine if you want to fight, we can fight.
if you are going to do something about it, do something about it. >> pierre, if i'm holding this watch, and you say i'm taking this watch. >> that's taking. stealing is you put it back there, walk out, i steal it, go behind your back. >> if i say you can't have the watch, you take the watch anyhow, that's theft, that's stealing. >> stealing, as far as in jail, as far as how i was, stealing is going behind somebody back and stealing while they're not there, without their permission. taking is going up to you, i'm going to get that watch, if you don't give it to me, i beat you up and take it. >> whether called steal organize taking, one inmate figured out how to outsmart the heartless felons. >> why they call you cruise? >> i look like tom cruise. >> oh, that's what it. >> shane fryer r., waiting trial for a felonious assault charge which he pled not guilty, saw many other inmates fall victim. >> we had problems with stealing here.
i was smarter than not of the guys, i think, i marked off the upc codes. >> sure enough, fryery out of his cell, heartless felons got inside and stole his commissary snacks. but fryery risked physical retaliation reporting the theft to staff. who immediately took action. >> if anybody want to volunteer say they went to three men cell and took commissary, if i got a man that said it was him, everybody else don't have to suffer. >> nobody volunteers to speak up, officers conduct a cell by cell search. but this time, they know exactly what to look for. this gentleman's smart enough to mark his commissary. we have to find his commissary, whoever has the mark is the one's that's going to be in lockup. >> you had kool-aid? >> yeah. >> this is how you marked your stuff. >> yes. >> very good, very good. as you see, that's one way that
we ask them to try to identify their items because we have this type of activities that occur and that's very good, okay? three guys actually went to the hole, but we did not get all of his commissary back. a lot of time when this type of thing happen, when they hit a cell, they try to use as much as they can to get rid of the evidence. >> concerned about possible gang retaliation, staff decided to move him to a new unit to protect his safety. but he says the risk was worth it. in fact, he welcomed it. >> a little part inside of me was setting these guys up. i'm sick of them treating us like we're weak. i knew they were going to steal this. i left my door open and everything, act like i wasn't watching my door. guys stole my stuff and they got caught. i mean they got what was coming for them. >> coming up -- >> we're getting involved with the kind of thing that we would usually be filming. the lockup field team finds
mexican mafia and the tango orejones, pose the greatest throat security. but according to gang investigator officer rodriguez, there are only two pieces in a complicated puzzle. >> in the bexar county jail, there are approximately nine prison gangs, but uncountable number of street gangs. street gangs pop up, literally overnight sometimes. and dissolve as quick lip however, prison gangs have a lot more of a thicker history, it's a larger population, they're actually nationwide. >> one of the larger gang is the aryan brotherhood. >> aryan brotherhood is a true prison gang like the mexican mafia. they have a constitution, a hierarchy, a paramilitary structure. >> at hispanic bexar county jail, the gang is characteristically quiet. >> the white population is very low. 48 inmates but 10 whites in
there. it's counterproductive for white groups to cause any tension when they're severely outnumbered. >> the few aryan brotherhood members that i did get to know in the bexar county jail did have a lot of bravado. they were minorities but they acted like they were the majority. they did act like king of the hill. >> aryan brotherhood of texas, we represent red, black, gold, red for the blood, black for the bruises and gold for the money. >> belong the aryan brotherhood inmates at the bexar county jail, todd "big country" allen. another day in paradise in bexar county. they can't segregate everybody. you have to sign a paper saying who you are you won't cause problems. >> talk about your life. when i first met big country, he sidled up to me and said, hey,
sweetie, ever thought of dating a three-time felon? and he was kind of serious actually. i didn't see a smile on his face, and i said, actually, big country, no, i have not. and he goes, oh, that's all right, sweetie. i said also, i am married and he looks at me serious, he goes, you know i can take care of him for you. >> the aryan brotherhood is the minority, the mexican mafia represents the old guard, the largest and fastest growing gang in bexar county is the tango orejones. jail officials do everything possible to keep members of the rival orejones and mexican mafia segregated in their own housing units in order to avoid conflict. the challenge is identifying them. since most gang members are taught to adamantly deny any affiliation. >> come on over here. let's go talk. >> every inmate that comes into the facility is interviewed by a classification officer.
>> been in the current residence more than a year? >> yes. >> problem with seizures? >> no, ma'am. >> suicidal? >> no, ma'am. >> one of the big things to look for is gang affiliation. >> gang related. >> no, ma'am. >> lift your shirt up. i've got to take a look at your chest anyway. check out the body tattoos for gang relations. >> for some reason they can't get them to admit to it but suspect it, they refer to us, gang officers. we'll attempt to go ahead and establish gang affiliation. >> you're involved in a report, report alleges that you're mafia. >> mafia? >> yeah. >> no. >> it's common for gang members to say i'm not one of them, they're going to try to avoid getting locked down. however, their mouth is saying one thing, but tattoos are saying something completely different. let me see your tattoos, man. take off your shirt the mexican mafia carries a side from their name, mexican mafia tattooed on their body, common tattoos are aztec symbols, you'll see the pyramids and the sun god looking
up numbers correlate to letters of the alphabet. we'll see numbers like the number 13, and m is the 13th letter of the alphabet. take off your shirt. >> all right. >> the orejones are less complex. >> that way. for them, san antonio is their city. so anything san antonio-related will be on their body. other common things are area code. 210. >> 210, what's up? >> spur symbols are common and the city skyline identifiable. known as orejones which means big areas, so we'll see tattoos of an actual ear somewhere on their body, or a playboy bunny, if you know how to read the tattoos you find out this guy's a member. >> gang inspectors like officers rodriguez and rocha identified thousands of gang members, no system is perfect.
neither is shooting lockup "extended stay". >> when shooting "extended stay", you will shoot for several weeks, and you'll be down a week or so and then come back. we shot our first couple of weeks, we saw the gang tension but it was pretty much under control. we went away for a week, and during that week, a huge riot broke out. mostly in the annex. >> the annex, a section of the jail where many newly arrived inmates live while going through the classification process. when we returned to the jail, we learned how officer rodriguez used his many contacts to suppress the riot shortly after it began. >> we received information from an informant, the informant is a
member of the mexican mafia. the informant explained he was given direct orders to engage in a riot that will happen at 8:00 on this specified day. every member of the mafia is required to participate, no exceptions. the problem was, we had no way to validate the information given to us. so we didn't know, you know, do we lock down the jail? do we wait and see what happens? what exactly are we going to do at this point? by this time, we were hours away from when he said the riots were going to happen. so we went ahead and put our cert team, special response team, on standby and just as the informant said, 7:45 in the annex, when the first altercation began. and domino effect occurred. >> get on the floor. >> we were not present to cover the riot, the jail did provide us with footage of the aftermath shot by the special response team officers. >> we don't know the exact reason why the mafia order the
assault. an interesting theory we have is the riot occurred march 23, 2012. i began to wonder why march 23, 2012, of all of the days to pick, why that day? anybody that wears tattoos, if they put a number on the body, numbers correlate to letters of the alphabet. the mexican mafia carry number 13, and the 13th letter of the alphabet is m. i look at date, 3/23/2012, if you add the numbers together it equals 13. if my opinion, that's probably were they close it. why they decided riot is another issue. >> next person to talk will be tased. >> with the dedication to secrecy, it's always difficult to gain intelligence on the mexican mafia. but we did meet some inmates who knew plenty. and were willing to speak. coming up -- >> we tell any ex member of any prison gang, your life is in danger. >> that's the way it goes, you're in it for life or you're dead, that's it. >> a former lieutenant speaks out.
born in cleveland's juvenile detention centers, the heartless felons had grown to be a force within the cuyahoga county correction center. >> it was a little reminiscent of oliver twist. it was a group of kids, basically, that had formed this family-like pact and they would run amok doing their various crimes within the facility.
and we'd all come back and kind of share the spoils of their criminal behavior. >> during our "extended stay" shoot, several inmates had food or phone cards stolen by the heartless felons. near the end of our time in cleveland, we joined the victim list as well. >> another day. >> another day on lockup. >> at the center of it all, pierre chatman, the first heartless felon we had met in the jail. >> one thing heartless felons, don't steal. we take something, we take it while in they're there, we don't steal. something we don't do. >> pierre, as a whole, he's -- he's a nice guy but, you know, i wouldn't turn my back on him too much, though. >> gang investigator sam mclaren's warning would prove prophetic during aa routine day of shooting in chat man's housing unit. >> we travel with eight cart, we also are allowed to keep snacks, waters, we're never close to anything once we start traversing the jail.
and we left our camera cart in a secure location, behind an officer's desk, when we had all gone into a pod to start filming. >> sit down, you're make me nervous. >> you know, the a crowded pod, everybody out of their cells. we had staff with us, obviously to keep an eye on us, and one point i did see pierre chatman who was going to be part of what we were filming dart out of the pod and go to the left on his way out he tapped another inmate and they kind of ran off together and we start filming and our production assistant came up to me and said, hey, did you take the candy box out of the cart? you know we had a little box, little snacked in it, and i said, no. and he started asking the crew members and everybody said no. he said, well, it's gone. >> it rarely happens, lockup field teams are required to report any missing items to staff, regard of how harmless or inexpensive they might be. when we did, staff immediately took action. >> everybody, everybody, lockdown. everybody in. everybody on lockdown.
>> we're doing our thing, someone walked out there, take [ bleep ] off the cart. if we don't get it back right now, we're going door-to-door, we're seeing everything you ain't supposed to have. so whoever did it, now, take the punishment so we don't punish the rest of the pod. >> [ bleep ]. >> whoever took something, give it up. if you don't, everyone's going to suffer. >> man [ bleep ]. >> as minimal as it seems, the fact that somebody stole candy, it's still taken seriously because it's a theft. >> that's the way it's going to roll. >> [ bleep ]. >> jail has to show that they're going to hold everybody accountable for any type of infraction. and they don't tolerate any type of illegal activity.
>> where was it? >> lock them all down, shake them all down, strip them, everything they ain't supposed to have coming out. >> during the cart gang, officer saw chatman enter another inmate's cell. that cell was targeted to the search. the snack box was discovered under the mattress. >> had nothing to do with it. >> where? >> under here, right here. i never go into my room. >> come on, man. >> look, if it's in the house, come on, man. >> those guys were claiming they had nothing to do with it. >> who took this stuff? >> [ bleep ]. >> cell number two belonged to pierre chatman. who was immediately taken to segregation. after interviewing other witnesses and holding disciplinary hearing the next day, jail officials found chatman and another inmate responsible for the theft and gave each an additional 14 days in segregation. >> i was disappointed that we had to be drawn into this situation.
the staff has enough to deal with. i didn't want to be an extra burden to them. they were wonderful about it. >> so they just took advantage of an opportunity that was presented to them just by a split second someone looking away or someone not paying attention to the cart. so i'm okay with that. we were able to find those individuals that took the candy off the cart and bring them to justice. >> we hadn't broken any infractions. and for them it was more important that the people who did it be held accountable. but it was odd to suddenly have
to shift positions. we're there to work, to document people's stories and now suddenly we're getting involved with the kind of thing that we would usually be filming. >> the incidents provide yet another insight into a gang whose members have committed far more serious acts, such as assaulting on inmates and staff. but whose roots go back to when they were young teenagers in juvenile detention centers. >> there was our cart, had a lot of stuff on it camera gear and whatnot, and took candy, something they could have gotten off a commissary, they decided to take a little box of candy. it was so indicative of the heartless felon m.o. they take stuff from other people and then they can prove, look what i got, i got this from this other person, and it happened to us. >> i'm the star of the show, man. i'm the star, man. >> coming up -- >> i believe when it comes to another gang, why not beat them psychological? >> an ex-mexican mafia lieutenant explains his method of warfare.
they were in a special protective custody unit for gang members who had had enough. >> the ex-gang unit was night and day different than any of the active units we had been to. the inmates had a sense of relief that getting out of the gang provided them, and it showed. >> the ex-gang unit is the only place where those affiliated with warring gangs live together peacefully. but they're fully aware their decisions to leave their gangs carry consequences that could follow them forever. >> we always tell any ex-member of any major prison gang, your life is in danger. there is somebody out to get you. it is going to happen. just remember that you were part of a criminal enterprise and you left it, and there is by their bylaws a hit on you.
>> that's the way it goes. you're in it for life or you're dead, you know, there's no -- there's no way out of it. >> victor, who requested we only use his first name for security reasons, once a lieutenant in the mexican mafia. he defected, while serving a prior 23-year prison sentence for kidnapping and aggravated assault. victor was back in the bexar county jail on a parole violation. >> when a mafia member decides to defect after members of the mafia place a green light on that ex-member, there's a light on you, they will always beat you until you are no longer alive. so if they beat you one day, you happen to survive this assault, three weeks later you're walking down the street and see you, they're going to keep assaulting you until you're no longer living. >> i always try to stay a step ahead, checking my surrounding, you know, after a while, being from n. prison you more or less know, you can sense things when a guy starts acting a little strange, you know he's up to something. >> victor says, in the 1980s he was one of the first members of the texas mexican mafia. and rose to a high ranking in the gang. >> i had the power to order
hits, i had power to do a lot of stuff. i didn't believe in, how can i say this, physical violence, i believed, you know, when it comes to another gang, why not beat them psychologically? why not plan this information? >> for example, victor says in prison, he was once housed next door to a member of a rival gang. using a method called fishing in which inmates used string to pass items to cell to cell, victor put his plan into place. he would attempt to fish a magazine with a note inside to a nearby mexican mafia member. >> i would call to my gang brother, two cells down and purposely miss his cell for the magazine to land in the next guy's cell so he could get it, that's what i wanted him to do. in the note victor falsely written a particular inmate in the rival gang was really a member of the mexican mafia. >> and, he would read the letter and then he would pass it to his other gang brothers, and
sometimes it would end up stabbing their own brother thinking it was one of us. see, that's the kind of psychological warfare that i liked to ploy. >> victor says that he sees parallels between the early days of the mexican mafia and those of its younger wilder rival the tango orejones. >> the mexican mafia basically started like the orejones now, let's do this to protect ourselves so nobody else will get extorted so nobody's going to get beat up, but then eventually they start doing the same thing, it's like david and goliath thing. first you're david and then turn into goliath. >> ironically, segregating the orejones to curtail their growth might also be speeding their transformation into a more organized gang like the mexican mafia. >> unfortunately, by segregating them, we are creating the ground for this gang to become more of a structurized group.
we have reports of what are known as checks, the term the orejones created, and the check means you have to prove your heart to stay in the unit. and they're checking every inmate that comes into the unit. you're not going to force somebody to prove their heart unless you're trying to structurize, who is the weaklings, who are the actual members? they're weeding out those that don't belong and this is clearly identifying the factor for a structurized group. >> structure, often translates into a more effective criminal organization. but in jail, it's up to the gang investigators to prevent crime before it happens. >> one thing that really amazed me about officer rodriguez is how much dedication he had to his job and how much courage he displayed because officer rodriguez is not just dealing with these gang members inside the jail.
he will also be called sometimes to testify against them in court. >> i do have to testify on a lot of not only just gang members, but high-ranking gang members for very heinous crimes and at the end of the day i still have to go home and be with my family and live a completely different life than the life i'm living here. i've run into many gang members outside the facility. i've had death threats against me or i've had these guys saying that they're going to get me. i've had guys even attack me before. but i'm a peace officer, i'm always carry, i don't go home the same way every day. in the end, i'm still here. i'm not going anywhere. i love what i do. i cross my fingers. to me it's part of the job. i love it.
due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons into a world of chaos and danger. now, the scenes you've never seen. "lockup: raw." >> what is it? what is it? >> a fight. >> when our crews go behind prison walls, we know al