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Crime & Justice

Officials say prison hunger strike leader still in control of Mexican Mafia

Mexican Mafia member Arturo Castellanos, on May 5, 2009.
Mexican Mafia member Arturo Castellanos, on May 5, 2009.
California Department of Correct
Mexican Mafia member Arturo Castellanos, on May 5, 2009.
Image of a prison note, or "kite," thought to be sent by Mexican Mafia leader Arturo Castellanos.

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This year's California inmate hunger strike was big news. The strike, which began with more than 30,000 inmates refusing meals dwindled to only a hundred or so after a couple of months. But it still drew nationwide attention to the issue of prison overcrowding and solitary confinement.

The strike was orchestrated by a few inmates at the Pelican Bay maximum security prison, one of them was Arturo Castellanos, a convicted murderer who has been held in isolation at Pelican Bay since 1990.

RELATED: How Imprisoned Mexican Mafia Leader Exerts Secret Control Over LA Street Gangs

Now federal officials have allegedly discovered evidence that Castellanos has not just orchestrated the hunger strike, but is still in a position of control in the Mexican Mafia gang. 

The evidence in question? One part seems to rely on a small hand scrawled note known as a "kite" in prison jargon. The feds allege the letter was written by Castellanos and sent to members of the Florencia 13 street gang in Los Angeles: 

The document outlines of series of rules, covering how street gangs are to be governed, how drug sales, prostitution and other activities are organized and taxed (with a percentage going to gang leaders behind bars), how disputes are resolved, how Mexican nationals are to be respected and the constant hunt for snitches.

Michael Montgomery, reporter with KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting who has obtained a copy of this kite, joins the show with more. 

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