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The Mexican Mafia


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Rafael's debut book-a study of the Southern California-based Mexican mafia told mainly from the perspective of veteran Los Angeles deputy district attorney Anthony Manzella-is a revealing but flawed work. Despite occasional national headlines about drive-by shootings that claim innocent lives (including the granddaughter of an LAPD chief), most Americans are probably unfamiliar with the powerful, loosely organized street gangs that make up the Mexican mafia. Rafael does a workmanlike job of tracing the rise of these gangs, despite the occasional factual error (e.g., the RICO statute was used to indict criminal groups besides La Cosa Nostra before the Mexican mafia), but fails to dramatize his overly detailed account of Manzella's trials. Manzella is an interesting enough figure-a dedicated workaholic throwback who doesn't use a computer, or even an electric typewriter. But Rafael gives short shrift to the sociology of the rise of the Mexican mafia. Instead, he offers a final quote from Manzella ("We know exactly the kind of families that produce criminals. I'd like to go in there and take them out. But we can't do that') will leave many with a sour taste that undercuts Rafael's attempts to make the deputy DA a hero. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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