Mexican drug lord assassinated by killer clowns


Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix , the eldest of seven brothers of the Tijuana cartel.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, the eldest brother in Mexico's once-dominant Tijuana drug cartel, was shot to death by gunmen disguised as clowns at a children's party on Friday.

The 63-year-old drug lord was also known by the nicknames "El Pelón" (the baldie) or Menso, ("stupid/crazy"). He was assassinated by a man in a clown suit during a family gathering at an upscale resort in Cabo San Lucas, a popular tourist destination on the Baja California peninsula, state special investigations prosecutor Isai Arias told Associated Press on Saturday:

An official of the Baja California Sur state prosecutor's office told the AP that the costumes included a wig and a round red nose.

Read the rest

HOWTO read gang tags and disses on LA streets

"OnCentral," a KPCC/Southern California Public Radio reporting project focused on the communities of South LA, has published a terrific series of very detailed posts by José Martinez on graffitti and gang tagging. Here's part one, here's part two, and here's part three, just published today. The latter digs in to the nuances of gang tags that indicate hostile conversations between gangs, or specific gang members; and tags that reveal the presence of Mexican Mafia or various gangs acting in collaboration with local businesses. The snapshot above shows a handpainted sign on a liquor shop in the area, bearing the name of that shop—but it contains a hidden symbol for one of these organized crime groups, suggesting that the liquor store is in cahoots. (via Tony Pierce)

The Peacemaker, Ice-T produced TV series on gang mediation, debuts tonight


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A new A&E documentary TV series produced by rapper Ice-T debuts tonight: The Peacemaker, starring ex-gang member turned mediator (and now, television host) Malik Spellman.

The five-episode series starts tonight at 10pm.

And, I'm proud to say, Boing Boing Video's own editor-producer-shooter Eric Mittleman worked on the show—he had some pretty intense behind-the-scene tales to share of what it's like to work on a project about mediating gang violence, with current and former gang members, in gang-controlled neighborhoods around Los Angeles.

Snip from the show description:

For the last 20 years Spellman has dedicated his life to ending gang violence, putting it all on the line to mediate truces between rival gangs in Los Angeles - adversaries sometimes separated by less than one city block. Whether he's in his classroom teaching life skills to middle school students, or riding through South Central on his bicycle, Spellman stays true to his purpose: keeping kids safe, out of trouble, and free from violence. Each episode of THE PEACEMAKER executive produced by rapper and actor Ice-T, provides an unprecedented look at gang life, following Spellman as he coordinates and oversees tense moments of mediation between enemies with long histories of hate and violence.
Cyclists, didja catch that? Spellman's a two-wheeler.

The Boston Globe has a review here, NY Daily News here, there's a Facebook page for the show here, and the official website's here, with video. I'll be watching. Oh, and Ice-T is on Twitter now: @finallevel.

(Thanks, Eric Mittleman, congrats!)

Game-guilds can be modelled using the math of street gangs

The structure of guilds in video games mirrors the structures of criminal gangs in the real world, and both can be modelled using the same mathematics, say a group of Chinese and American scholars. Unfortunately, their paper isn't published in a proper open access journal, so we can't review their findings -- only the abstract.
Quantifying human group dynamics represents a unique challenge. Unlike animals and other biological systems, humans form groups in both real (offline) and virtual (online) spaces--from potentially dangerous street gangs populated mostly by disaffected male youths to the massive global guilds in online role-playing games for which membership currently exceeds tens of millions of people from all possible backgrounds, age groups, and genders. We have compiled and analyzed data for these two seemingly unrelated offline and online human activities and have uncovered an unexpected quantitative link between them. Although their overall dynamics differ visibly, we find that a common team-based model can accurately reproduce the quantitative features of each simply by adjusting the average tolerance level and attribute range for each population. By contrast, we find no evidence to support a version of the model based on like-seeking-like (i.e., kinship or "homophily").
Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic (via /.)

(Image: Guild Wars, a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike photo from dalvenjah's Flickr stream)