Mexican Mafia Chronicles: Champ Reynoso Dies

Word was recently passed to me that another of the pioneers of the country’s most damaging prison gangs, the Mexican Mafia, has died.

Adolph “Champ” Reynoso passed at a Colorado hospital near the federal maximum-security lockup where he’d spent his last many years. He was 75.

Reynoso was part of L.A. crime lore. He was a member of Big Hazard, an East LA street gang.

Later, he was made a member of the Mexican Mafia while in prison. He was one of the 22 Eme members indicted in the first federal RICO case against the gang — coming in 1995, and hingeing on the testimony of Ernie “Chuco” Castro, up to that point one of the most influential members of the organization.

The trial pulled back the veil on the mafia in several ways – one of which was to reveal its scheme for using street gang members to tax drug dealers in the barrios of Southern California, the revenue for which was funneled to mafia members and their associates.

The scheme remains in place today and has turned the Mexican Mafia into more than a prison gang –rather, an organization with enormous influence beyond prison walls.

Years later, now 61, Reynoso was identified as a leader of the Eme in the Supermax prison at Florence, Colorado, in testimony about a hit that took place within the gang at the prison.

At his passing, he was deemed the highest-ranking active Mexican Mafia member.

The last few years have seen the passing of several Eme figures from those years — those who formed or spread the Eme: Peter “Sana” Ojeda, Frank “Frankie B” Buelna, Ruben Rodriguez, “Black Dan” Barela. Joe Morgan and Benjamin “Topo” Peters died years ago. Many others have dropped out of the gang while in prison – an exodus that began with Castro, who went into federal witness protection, and, before him, Ramon “Mundo” Mendoza.

Most of the older Eme members, like Reynoso, were heroin addicts on the street — reflecting the fact that their criminal careers began in the late 1960s, early 1970s — a time when heroin crept into the Mexican-American neighborhoods of Southern California with a vengeance.




Filed under Drugs, Gangs, Southern California

11 Responses to Mexican Mafia Chronicles: Champ Reynoso Dies

  1. andrew

    he looks like a mix between Willem Dafoe and Dennis Reynolds in the last pic

  2. Youngster with Game

    Thanks for your reporting

  3. I knew champ since childhood..was heavy hearted wen i heard..he was a damn good brother..R.I.P. CAMPION…ALWAYS A BRO. WHOS HURTING……

  4. Gabriel Chavez

    Top Dog ! Rest my big Brother ! God bless you and your family ! We have always been proud of you big brother !I salute you my Big Homie ! Respects Gabriel#1Big Hazard Joker’s Kanpol X3 and from the entire Hazard Gang ! Total respects !

  5. To my carnal Champ BIG HAZARD may you rest in paradise and to the familia , my deepest condolences. from Priest Big Hazard Jokers

  6. Adele Della Chavez

    Champ passed away from complications while having surgery for tumor removal, he had on his back. He had three tumors.

  7. browser

    This “Champ” was not part of the 1995 Rico indictment. That was another “Champ” from OC. This guy that your article is about was already in the Feds for many years before that case.

  8. Deedee Chavez

    Hello Sam, I personally knew Adolfo “Champ” from the time I was a little girl. I was born and raised in Ramona Gardens Big Hazard. My mother knew him very well, as m6 step dad was very good friends of him as well. My mother is 95 yrs old and I mentioned to her that Champ passed away, but as I kept reading, it didn’t say from what. We’d like to know if possible.
    Thank you .
    So today grandma’s homeboy Champ passed away. incerely
    All the good ones, what we call the good one, who watched over us are all leaving us. It’s a sad time for a lit of my family members

  9. Brian Beckner

    Thanks, and I always enjoy you reporting on all things Mexico….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *