I have never been out of California, never even been to Vegas!  Now I am taking care of my wife and her kids, who I consider my own because I have been in their lives since they were babies.  All gangs are, is streets. Defending the street where you live! I am going to be who I am till I die. But at the same time, I don’t want people getting the wrong impression of me. 
I mean the only time someone is supposed to kill or defend themselves is when there is a danger or their family is in danger. But when you are defending a block, a fucking street dude? 

I’m from La Puente in the San Gabriel Valley. I feel at home in LA. My dad used to live in Compton, I would visit him. I live in Upland now, at my mom’s, but mostly stay at my lady’s at South Gate. From 1992 til I got out this time [2014] I was out about a year altogether. I just did 12 years! I have been out of prison 13 months. When I first got out in October I did good, I wasn’t using, I was not doing nothing, man. That’s how I first got involved with Homeboy’s. 
I went for tattoo removal. I went because my girl was like,  “You should take off some of your tattoos so that you can get a good job.” 

That is how it started. I would go to Homeboy’s for a minute and I would go talk to Father Greg. I have known Father Greg since I was 15, I met him one time in Central. He is a good guy, you know what I mean? He has done something that no man has ever done in LA and he is still doing it. Not only does the man care for you, but he pulls the strength out of you to do good, to do right. You don’t just change overnight. It is a process. I believe that is why they have the 18-month program.  I have been there six months, but I went through a lot of drama because I was in drug court when I first got out. I messed up, and it was a different county, so they were sweating that. When I got out I had to go to a sanction for missing a drug test. Mind you the day that I missed the drug test I tested for Homeboy Industries. Fabian, the drug counselor at Homeboy’s faxed the results to them, the picture, everything. He had done it two times before that and they had taken it, but this time the judge, like, I don’t know? I don’t know what was maybe all the new laws that are being passed?

 When I was like 11 or 12 they sent me to the City of Hope and I was a little bad ass, I was a good liar, a good thief.  I think this project is going to benefit a lot of people, once they hear our stories. Everybody in every city, state, the country can relate to gang life because there are gangs everywhere. But some people don’t realize it is a gang til later. Say if you need a guide, say you are going to a liquor store or the market or whatever, and you bump into a dude and he says, “I apologize,” whatever. Like he is real humble and all that, and you guys talk and introduce yourselves. Then you guys maybe a few weeks later go to a bar and then become friends. You tend to back up your friends.  Help your friend when he is in sorrow, pain, whatever.  So what are you going to do if two, three dudes run up on him and start beating the shit out of him? You are not going to run right? You’re going to try and help your friend. That comes not just from being a man that comes from your inner instinct. Especially if you are a Mexican. You have that Aztec blood. And it’s the same thing as gang life. 

These people live how they live, and seen opportunities to make money, to feed their kids, their family, their friends. Look, if you choose to take care of your family and kids and stuff, a lot of people think that people are going to frown on that. Nah, people respect that because you are taking care of your responsibility. It’s not what a lot of people think. Gangs get a bad rep. 
Look at the shit they show on TV about how it is in prison. It isn’t like that dude. People who are gay or have Rs on their jacket, they do not walk the yard. They are in protective custody. Makes you look like a dirtbag. But that is society. They want society to see us like that. They want you to see us as drug addicts. Let’s build a drug program!  “If he is a robber, let's keep him in prison. Because he just wants to rob and steal.” Whatever your problem is, instead of building things to help people, they just build one big old prison. 
One thing that upsets me is that Homeboy’s is doing a good thing. But the government is not supporting it. For the rest of the interview to be found in the book.