” SERGEANT SALAZAR ”
Sergeant Salazar of the LAPD, had difficulties while growing up thanks to many of the decisions made by his mother. His father was almost never home because he had to work two and sometimes three jobs to help make end meet. Sarge’s mother was determined that her children would successfully assimilate into the American culture, and based the majority of all her decisions on this. She was infatuated with Hollywood movie stars, and television characters after her family was able to afford a TV. (About 1960).
Her first born she named Diego de la Vega (AKA Zorro) Salazar. With her second born, she was crazy about Kirk Douglas and John Wayne, so she wanted him to be named Kirk John Salazar. Somehow the name on the birth certificate was spelled Cirk instead of Kirk, so his name came out as Cirk John Salazar. The Cirk was, of course, misspelled, but they still pronounced it as Kirk. Cirk was eventually to become Sarge. Mrs. Salazar’s third child born was a girl child. Katherine Hepburn and Susan Haywood became Katherine Sue Salazar.
As the school children got old enough to learn reading and writing Cirk began to get teased about his name, and since he was one of the smallest in his class he had little option but to take it. Especially since all the kids make fun of him. The worst of them was Mike Davis. Mike was a white boy and the biggest kid in the class. Being white gave Mike special privilege, and being the biggest gave him even more privilege.
Cirk’s family, parents and grandparents were native born American’s, but they lived in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood. This was mostly because of economics. The schools Cirk attended was a mix of Coloreds, Mexicans and Whites. The Mexicans and Coloreds were always at odds with each other. Hardly a week went by without there being some kind of rumble between the two races. I guess this was to be expected since the Whites were the top of the food chain, and neither the Coloreds nor the Mexicans wanted to feel like the bottom of the barrel. No one wants to feel like they are the bottom of society.
Momma Salazar had one big demand. Only English was to be spoken in her home and by her family. She, her husband and all three of the children spoke fluent English without even the slightest hint of a Mexican accent. She believed this would make all the difference for her children on how they were treated by teachers and prospective employers as they entered the job market. All three children were allowed to take Latin, French or German in high school, if they so desired, but no Spanish. Moma Salazar knew that all three children picked up a few cuss words in Spanish, (like all the races did), but she never knew that they learned the language. Diego and Kathy secretly went against their mothers wishes and learned to speak Spanish with the rest of the Mexican kids, but Cirk never did.
Since Cirk honored Moma Salazar’s wishes, this too caused resentment with many of the Mexican children. They would speak Spanish in front of him just to make him feel left out for being so uppity in their opinions. Surprisingly, another aspect of Cirk’s life that caused him grief was his lineage. This is something that most people would have thought would have made him a celebrity rather than something to have been teased about. It was well known, and documented, that Cirk’s great grandfather was the Pancho Villa the famed Mexican Revolutionary. But all this did was to make it where when the other children wanted to taunt him they would shout out “Villa Rides”, and then make gestures of galloping their pretend horses. Like in the movie Villa Rides with Yul Brynner and Robert Mitchum.
By the time Cirk was in the 9th grade he still hadn’t hit much of a growth spurt yet. He was still exceptionally small for his age, while many of the other boys had already begun to sprout up. Cirk was in the little neighborhood store “Almacenar de Garcia”, buying some penning candy when Mr. Garcia stopped to talk to him. Senior Garcia was a kindly old man about 70 years old. He had a warm smile and a kind word for all the children. After Cirk made this purchase of three pieces of candy Senior Garcia slipped another piece into his bag. Cirk gave him a very big toothy smile of appreciation. Mr. Garcia and he had always liked each other. Mr. Garcia liked to think of Cirk as a nieto (grandchild).
Unbeknownst to Cirk and Mr. Garcia another boy was hiding in the store, and after Cirk left the store the boy stole the five dimes from the March of Dimes donations while Mr. Garcia was in the back room cleaning up. Mr. Garcia came back to the register area and he noticed the March of Dimes donations were missing. He didn’t want to think that Cirk would have done it, but before he had much time to think about it the beat patrolman, Mr. Delaney came in and noticed it missing. He asked Mr. Garcia where it was and Garcia said that someone had stolen it.
“Who’s been in here since the last time you saw it Garcia?” he asked.
“The only one I saw was little Cirk Salazar, but I know he wouldn’t have taken it.” Said Garcia
“I’ll check it out. We can’t have these little thieves stealing from the crippled children.” And Delaney marched out of the store.
Delaney got on the call box, and had HQ send a patrol unit to pick him up and take him to the Salazar’s house. The next thing the Salazar’s, and all the neighbors, knew the police car came rolling up with the sirens blasting and Delaney was beating on the Salazar’s door. Cirk was forced to stand outside in front of God and the whole world to see, while Officer Delaney berated him, scolded him, and demanded that Cirk confess and give the money back immediately.
Of course Cirk couldn’t produce the money since he didn’t have it, and he could barely afford the three cents for the candy he had bought, let alone replace the money he had not stolen. Cirk couldn’t confess since he didn’t do it, and this set Officer Delaney off even more. After being thoroughly interrogated for several humiliating minutes Officer Delany told Cirk that we was on “House Arrest “ for the next month, and told his mother that he would be by after school every Friday afternoon and take Cirk for Community Service.
From that day forward the entire neighborhood called him “dedos pegajosos C.J.” meaning, sticky finger C.J. This was the ultimate insult in the Mexican community because, unlike the White population, the Mexicans consider it inappropriate to be called by your initials instead of your name. It was never discovered by the police or Senior Garcia, who had actually stolen the money from the March of Dimes, but no one ever looked further than “dedos pegajosos C.J.”.
There is a footnote of some interest to this story, back in those days a kid could buy a three piece pack of gun for a penny. It just so happened that a week after the March of Dimes theft Mike Davis, the poor urchin white boy, went to the store with 50 cents, five dimes. That he just happened to find, and bought 50 packs of gum with a special plan in mind.
A favorite scolding of teachers when they caught children chewing gum is class was to say “If you don’t have enough for the whole class, then spit it out.” Mike was prepared. When Miss Evans gave her speech Mike smiled from ear to ear and proudly walked up to where Miss Evans was holding out the trash can for him to spit out his gum, but instead spitting the gum out he handed her a pack of gun, then proceeded to hand out gum to the whole class. Cirk knew where the gum had come from and refused to take it.
Mike was the biggest kid in the class and didn’t like Cirk’s refusal of his gift. After school was over and the kids were walking home Mike confronted Cirk about not taking the gum. Cirk told him that he knew where Mike got the money and wasn’t about to chew his thieving gum. Mike beat the tar out of Cirk for his insolence; he got him down on the ground and stuffed dirt in Cirk’s mouth.
After Cirk graduated high school he decided he had had his fill of the old neighborhood. Cirk had an uncle that lived in LA, so he went to LA to live with Uncle Carlos. This was about the same time Cirk got a huge growth spurt, and shot up to about five foot eleven inches, but only weighed about 150 pounds. Quite skinny. He found some literature about Joe Weider, his body building routines and nutritional supplements, and the importance of proper eating.
Joe Weider is considered the Father of Body Building. He was born in Canada, but lived in LA until he died in 1902. Cirk took this as an omen. Joe was born somewhere else, and came to LA to find himself. This was also Cirk’s story. Cirk quickly discovered that Joe knew what he was talking about when it came to building bodies and bulking up. Before long Cirk,(who was now going by Kirk) was standing 5’11” and weighting in at 220 pounds of pure muscle. Not a man to be tampered with at this stage of his life. No would ever make him eat dirt again!
Uncle Carlos lived just a few blocks away from UCLA, Kirk enrolled and eventually majored in Law Enforcement and minored in (of all things) Spanish, which he quickly mastered.
Kirk made a new friend in one of his law enforcement classes named Jackson. Jackson had been in the military as a Green Barrett, and taught Kirk some of the Marshall Arts he had picked up in the military. They both felt that this would be very useful in their future careers as police officers.
Kirk and Jackson were both picked up quickly by the LAPA, and rightly so. They were excellent candidates with excellent credentials. Kirk quickly rose in the ranks to Sergeant. He had already changed name from Cirk to Kirk, but this no longer mattered since no one ever referred to him as anything but Sarge.
Sarge had been offered many promotions beyond sergeant, but he always turned them down. He always said that when he gets older maybe he’d take a promotion, but for now, he’s young and likes working the streets, and in particular he liked working in the gang and drug divisions.
LAPD discovered that a large supplier who wassending methamphetamine’s into LA was located in the Kansas City, Kansas area. It was suspected that the gang was working in the Mexican part of town. It was further believed that the gang was working with a large number of independent “Cookers” from the Ozarks region of Missouri.
These cooking operations put out a very strong odor, but because of the sparse populations in the Ozark area they are rarely caught from the smells. Most cooks were caught attempting to buy the chemicals they needed. Whoever was organizing the independent cooks was bringing in the necessary ingredients in cargo ships from overseas, and somehow transporting the chemicals into the Ozarks, and then transporting the Meth out of the Ozarks and having it end up in LA.
Because of Sarge’s connections to KC he was the first one the Chief thought of for this under-cover operation, but the Chief also had some serious reservations.
“Sarge, I know you’ve heard about the problems we’re having with the KC connection and the operation that we are about to launch and your name was the first one proposed to head it up. But I do have some concerns about using you.”
“What’s that Chief?”
“I know that you’re originally from KCK, that you’ve lived in the Mexican community there, and you have also told me that you and your family would sometimes go fishing down in the Ozarks around Branson.”
“Yea”, said Sarge with great confusion.
“Well, look at you Sarge!” How could anyone ever forget you? You’re 5’11” and 220 pounds of pure muscle. How many people look like that in this community? How could anyone ever forget you?”
“Chief. I didn’t get a growth spurt until after I moved here to LA. Back in KC I was a skinny 5’3” kid that couldn’t tip the scales at 100 pounds sopping wet, and believe it or not, I was constantly teased and picked on because of my puniness and the fact that I couldn’t speak Spanish. I didn’t learn Spanish until I moved out here and took it in college. My own mother won’t recognize me.” Sarge laughed.
“Great.” The Chief felt much better now.
The Chief always thought of Sarge as the Super Cop of LA drugs and gangs division. He spoke fluent Spanish when dealing with the gangs and street thugs, yet he spoke immaculate English when writing reports, dealing with Prosecutors and jurors; not even a hint of Spanish accent. Everyone could clearly hear what he was saying. Sarge was the perfect cop for all occasions.
“Off to KC”
Sarge and his team arrived in KC three days later. He set up his base of operation around Central and 10th Street. He knew this was where much of the criminal activity was and where the gangs liked to hang out. Sarge decided to hit this hard. He wanted quick results. Sarge knew that gang member were slow to let knew people into the fold, so he decided not to go that route. He also knew that getting an introduction from a trusted member took time, and building a violent reputation required a great deal of time and planning too. So he ruled all of these tactics out.
The only option left open in Sarge’s mind was trickery. He decided to take full advantage of his knowledge of the people, their families and the neighborhoods. Sarge had a couple of his men start asking around at the KCK police department, pawn shops and the down town local banks that owned most of the paper on mortgages. He wanted to follow the money. The LAPD under cover units were not sure if any of the KCKPD were involved in the lucrative drug ring, so they wanted to tell the locals as little as possible, yet still get the help they needed.
LAPD questioned several KCK beat cops. Asking them about local small time criminals who had suddenly seemed to be members of something bigger. Small thefts were down, yet their creditors were not after them for delinquent accounts. LA also wanted KCK to canvas pawn shops to see which regulars weren’t pawing things, and or were recovering items they had previously pawned. This would indicate that they had come into some serious money. The local banks were questioned. La wanted to know who had been behind in their mortgages, and suddenly got caught up, paid ahead, or even paid off.
Sarge took all this information to select the target he wanted from the people he knew.
“Bingo”, he had his man.
Sarge selective Miguel Valeah for his pigeon. Miguel was a big, easy going guy, but to put it nicely, he was simple minded and easily manipulated. The information gathered indicated that for some time now Miguel was living above his means. Even if only slightly. His car payment was current, his mortgage was current, he wasn’t pawning anything as he usually did, and no one seemed to be trying to collect anything from him.
Sarge had known Miguel, his extended family and all his friends from grade school and high school. They were all in the same class as Sarge all through grade, middle and high school. Sarge hadn’t kept in touch with Miguel, of course, but through conversations with his mother and Kathy, Sarge was still able to keep up with what was going on with the people from the neighborhood, who they were married to, where they lived, things like that.
Sarge set the plan in motion. He and two of the other LAPD Mexican officers had been following Miguel, they knew his car and where he liked to hang out during the day. This wasn’t difficult to discover since he was still hanging out on “The Wall” down at the old Whitmore grade school with the rest of the trouble making thugs. The three LAPD under cover narcs loaded into their “gang “ prepped car and stopped in front of Miguel down at Whitmore.
Sarge yelled in a strong Spanish accent, “Get in the Car Miguel.”
Miguel didn’t like it. He didn’t know any of these guys, but he didn’t think he had any choice. He was sure they were armed. The three drove Miguel to a deserted part of Rosedale Park. They got him out of the car, made him get down on his knees, and put a gun to his head.
Sarge did all the talking to Miguel.
“Miguel, I’m gonna keep this simple so you can understand it pendajo. The boss has heard that you been talkin to the wrong people about shit that’s none of your business.”
“I ain’t been talking to no one about nothing man, I swear.”
“We ain’t believing you man. Listen up Miguel and listen hard. We know your wife’s parents live over off 34th and Stateline. Your parents live on Francis Street, your sister and her family live over on Seminary, and your crib with your old lady and kids live up on Cambridge. You getting where I’m coming from dude?”
“Yea, man, I get it.” Said Miguel, “But I swear I ain’t said nothing. I know that Sergio sent you, but you better leave me alone or Wrigley’s gonna have your ass cabrone. If you know what I mean mother fucker.”
Miguel had just given them the names of the two bosses without even realizing it.
“We’re gonna pretend we believe you Miguel. But the boss said that if we thought you’re okay, then we should remind you not to miss the meeting tonight.”
Miguel looked confused and asked, “Is the meeting at the warehouse in the West Bottoms?”
“Sure Miguel, where else would it be?”
“You know man, maybe there meeting at Sergio’s house again like last time.”
Sarge had already gotten feedback that something big was going to happen in the very near future, and that there were going to be many people there, so he knew it wouldn’t be at anyone’s house, so he told Miguel to be at the main warehouse down by Kemper Arena.
Miguel was never what you would call self confident so he asked “Okay, Nine o’clock like usual?”
“Yeah stupid, same as usual.”
Sarge kept at Miguel a little more. “And don’t ever try to threaten me with Wrigley again. You ain’t nothing to him.”
“That’s what you think fucker. That gringo Wrigley and I have been friends since back in grade school at Columbian. We was same class and everything. I’ve known him since before he started going by Wrigley. We used to go watch the A’s play baseball when we was kids. That’s how far back we go.” said Miguel.
Now Sarge knew who the big boss is.
“Get back in the car man and we’ll take you back to that piece of shit you call a car.”
Miguel didn’t like him saying this. Miguel had a really “Bitchin” 64 Impala that he had paid a lot of money for and was very proud of it.
They drove Miguel back to where they had picked him up.
“Remember pendajo, keep your blabbing mouth shut or we’ll shut it for you. Remember, Loose lips sink shitheads.”
Now the team had all the information they needed. Time to call in all the troops!
Jackson was blown away.”How did you know all that information about his family and friends? I didn’t read that in any of the data we gathered.”
Sarge looked at Jackson and gave him a little sheepish smile and told him, “This is where I grew up. I already knew all this stuff. That’s why I selected Miguel. I know all about him and I know he’s easily manipulated. Miguel actually went to grade school with me, and so did Wrigley.”
At 9PM that night Sarge, his team and about 20-30 KCK officers raided the warehouse down by the Kemper after they saw Miguel’s car pull up. The police rush was a regular blitzkrieg. Not a shot was fired. When Sarge approached Wrigley, and Wrigley threw a punch at him, Sarge easily deflected the punch, reeled him around and slammed his face hard into a wooden crate. Sarge cuffed Wrigley and said “I’ve finally got you pendajo.”
“You’ve finally got me? What do you mean? Who the hell are you? I don’t know you”, said Wrigley.
Sarge’s answer was simple, “My dear friend Mike Davis. I’m still not eating your fucking gum?”
Then Sarge ended it with a well placed kidney punch.