Los Angeles

Imprisoned Mafia Hit Man's Secretive Speech in Downtown LA Prompts Call for Investigation

The president of the LA Police Commission called for an investigation into the use of LAPD resources to arrange a secretive meeting among an imprisoned ex-Mexican Mafia hit man, top law enforcement officials and wealthy business leaders, calling it "embarrassing."

Rene Enriquez, who is known as "Boxer," was given a police escort to a secured downtown LA location on Spring Street, where sources said he was to give a crowd of about 125 firsthand insight about the inner-workings of the criminal enterprise.

"A whole lot of city resources were wasted here when they shouldn't have been," Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said.

Enriquez' appearance required a "multi-hour SWAT and LAPD presence," Soboroff said.

The cost of the operation, which included crossing county lines, was not immediately known. It was unclear how many other agencies were involved in Enriquez' appearance.

Enriquez, who is the subject of the book "The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of 'Boxer' Enriquez, a Mexican Mob Killer," worked his way up from enforcer to shot caller for the organization known as La Eme before his arrest and conviction. He is serving two 20-to-life sentences for murder.

The meeting was meant to offer LA-area law enforcement chiefs a chance to learn how a "transnational criminal enterprise was built, branded and marketed," the LAPD said in a statement to NBC News that acknowledged an LAPD group met with a convicted criminial.

"This individual talked with the sophistication and knowledge of a corporate CEO," said LAPD deputy chief Michael Downing, who didn't confirm Enriquez was the speaker.

The cost of the event was relatively small, with about 23 officers guarding the perimeter, while police chiefs from cities like Long Beach and Fullerton attended the talk. The event was secure, Downing said.

"In retrospect, we probably could have picked a better location that didn't have such an impact on downtown Los Angeles," Downing said.

Downing added that the speaker was is a deceptive, manipulative individual "in jail for horrific crimes," and that "even though he's providing this information for us, (we) don't lose sight of who he is as an individual."

A source who attended the session said Enriquez had the air of a corporate leader, providing "a rare look into life of a criminal corporate executive." The source, who asked not to be named, said Enriquez discussed "gang franchising, marketing, sales, merchandising and branding."

“We live in a dangerous city,” said another man who attended the session.

A spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which is responsible for Enriquez, had no immediate comment on the appearance, and was checking late Wednesday to see whether it had been approved.

"People make mistakes and it's our responsibility to find out exactly what happened," Soboroff said. "We need to find out how exactly much that cost and see how much money we can recover. "

NBC4's Toni Guinyard and Willian Avila contributed to this report.

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