March 29: Courtroom Conversation “Who Controls Our Prisons?”

March 29: Courtroom Conversation “Who Controls Our Prisons?”

Date: March 29, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Cost: $25 with 10% discount for Museum Members

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Organized Crime inside the American Prison System


It’s intimidate or be intimidated. It’s organized crime inside our prisons. If you’re not an ally of the Mexican Mafia or the Aryan Brotherhood, you’re their enemy.

Who Controls Our Prisons?

Wide-ranging panel discussion on the growth of organized crime in U.S. Prisons.

In addition to the panelists, the presentation will include excerpts from an exclusive interview, conducted by The Mob Museum, with a former Mexican Mafia member.


  • Robert Marquez, authority on prison gangs and former agent with the California Department of Corrections
  • Richard Valdemar, retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy and internationally known expert on LA gangs, the Mexican Mafia and other prison gangs.

Courtroom Conversations: An ongoing series of moderated panel discussions exploring special insights into the history of Las Vegas, the Mob and law enforcement, featuring prominent speakers and high-profile public figures.

Featured Speakers

Robert S. Marquez  

Robert S. Marquez

Robert Marquez is a retired Special Agent previously employed by the Special Service Unit of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Marquez began his career with the CDCR in 1986 as a Correctional Officer when he was assigned to the California Correctional Institution. It was during this initial assignment that Marquez became aware of the prison gangs influence not only in the prison setting but how they also controlled and had influence on street gangs and its members; the prison gangs organizational structures; tattoos; methodologies; allies and enemies; rules governing their conduct; and strategies in indoctrination and recruitment of their followers and new members.

While a Correctional Sergeant at Pelican Bay State Prison in the early 2000s, Marquez was given the assignment of Institutional Gang Investigator and Security Squad Lieutenant. During this three-year assignment, Marquez conducted extensive investigations into the gang status of inmates resulting in over 300 prison gang validations of prison gang members, associates, and drop-outs. Also, Marquez, with the assistance of his staff, developed a gang management strategy known as the “short-corridor”, which more effectively utilized the physical plant design. This strategy resulted in diminished gang communications in the prison and with outside street gangs, an inability to prospect, mentor and make new members and resulted in to dozens of prison gang members defecting and becoming cooperators.

While with the Redding Police Department in the mid-2000s, Marquez developed and implemented the gang management strategy known as “Strike Teams”, whereby Marquez would select staff from across the state to assist him in going to the target prison and identifying gang members, the gang leadership and structure, documenting and validating said gang members, training the investigators and providing up-to-date training on gangs to the local prison staff.

Marquez also has helped produce training videos, spoken at law enforcement conferences, served as a training instructor, has served on state and regional boards and has testified as a gang expert in several trials. In 2012, Marquez was deputized as a deputy U.S. Marshal.

Richard Valdemar  

Richard Valdemar

An internationally known expert in both traditional and non-traditional gangs, Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 2004. For most of his 33 years with the LASD he was involved in combating Los Angeles gangs. For the last 20 years he was assigned to the Detective Division, Major Crimes Bureau. In 1977-78 he was assigned to the DEA Task Force and later to the U.S. Marshals, in the “Doc Holiday-Ray Ray Browning” federal drug conspiracy case against the leaders of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF). For more than 12 years he was part of the Federal Metropolitan Gang Task Force, cross designated as an FBI agent targeting the Mexican Mafia prison gang. Since 1985 he was a member of the California (Prison) Gang Task Force. He was the “gang expert” in the RICO prosecution of the Mexican Mafia in 1995, 1997 and the RICO of 1999 as well.

Before joining the LASD in 1970, he served three years as a Military Policeman with tours in Vietnam and Fort Huachuca, Arizona. After completing the LASD Academy, he served four years in Custody Division where he first was exposed to working prison gangs. His past experience also includes patrol and gang suppression assignments in East Los Angeles, and his home town, Compton, California.  Valdemar’s prior experience includes being selected in 1978 as one of the original 12 founding deputies to form the Sheriff’s Department‘s “Operation Safe Streets” anti-gang unit. He received anti-terrorist training in 1984 for the Olympics from the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Transportation and was the Detective Division’s Terrorist Liaison Officer when he retired.

Valdemar has been a regular law enforcement trainer and instructor for several groups, including the LASD Advanced Officers Gang School and California Gang Investigator’s Association. Valdemar has given expert testimony before the California Senate Hearing Committee, the County and the Federal Grand Jury and in numerous Federal, Superior and Municipal Court proceedings.

Valdemar has been a consultant for the college textbooks, “Barrio Gangs” by Dr. James Diego Vigil, and “Gangs – A Guide to Understanding Street Gangs” by Dr. Al Valdez.  He is a character in the novel “The Murder Children” by John Ball, and a quoted consultant in Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo’s book, “In Mortal Danger.” Recently he has been featured in the books “Mexican Mafia” by Tony Rafael, “Black Hand” by Chris Blatchford, documentary and book “Drug Wars – Silver or Lead” by Gary “Rusty” Fleming and “No Boundaries – Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement” by Tom Diaz.

He has been featured in several training broadcasts and supervised the real Hispanic and African-American gang members used in the Michael Jackson music video “Beat It”.  He was a technical advisor for the movies “Drug Wars – The Kiki Camerena Story” and “A Man Apart” starring Vin Diesel and Lorenz Tate. In 2006 he was featured on the History Channel for segments on “Military Policemen in Combat” and the “History of the Aryan Brotherhood” prison gang. He is the technical advisor for the “Gangland” series on the History Channel. He was also featured on Fox News Channel national broadcast “American Gangs: Ties to Terror?”  with Newt Gingrich, and segments for MSNBC Scarborough Country and Fox News Hannity & Colmes on the subjects of “Gangs in the Military” and “Gangs and Illegal Immigration”.

Current projects include writing a gang blog for the Police Magazine web site on gangs ( and working on books about the early days of the OSS gang unit, Terrorism, Police Gang Training, and several motion picture projects.  He is an active volunteer in several civic and police organizations and continues to pursue activities to benefit Law Enforcement and the American people.