Mexican settlers from Guanajuato and Michoacán arrived in Willowfield in 1815 to 1817 and it was used by them as lands for their farm animals to graze and rest on. Following the collapse of Alta California in 1848, the Mexican settlers left what is now Willowfield. In the same year, the municipal government of Los Santos razed the settlement, which consisted of a small village named Zacapu, to the ground and plotted suburban development of a neighborhood which was to be incorporated into the South Central district of the city. In 1866, suburban development of the neighborhood finally got underway and was completed by 1870 and it was designated by the municipal and state government to be a census designated place. It wasn't until forty three years later in 1913 that the neighborhood was formally incorporated into South Central.
The predominately Caucasian American, suburban middle-class neighborhood of Willowfield saw almost negligible crime rates, negligible poverty and a very strong workforce for the first thirty six years of its existence.
Beginning with the entry of the United States into the Second World War in 1941, many military aged men in Willowfield from the ages of 18 - 35 joined all branches of the United States Armed Forces in order to support the American war effort. These young men from the neighborhood served in the Pacific, Europe and North Africa.
After the Second World War ended with Allied victory in 1945, the aforementioned young men from Willowfield returned to their neighborhood and assumed residence in affordable housing for returning veterans. Other veterans from elsewhere in South Central, Los Santos as a whole and even other parts of San Andreas settled in these affordable housing projects built for returning veterans.
Beginning in 1947 and lasting until 1956, the Second World War veterans who settled in Willowfield began leaving the neighborhood for wealthier parts of the city in the metropolitan suburbs of West Los Santos. Popular destinations included Verona, Vinewood, Temple and Rodeo.
In 1949, when the Second World War veterans who moved into the neighborhood for affordable housing began vacating it in larger numbers, lower income and working class minorities such as Latino Americans and African Americans began migrating into Willowfield and the rest of South Central primarily from East Los Santos and the Las Colinas Valley. This caused the remaining Caucasian American suburban population within the neighborhood to leave in the phenomenon of white flight.
The housing that the Second World War veterans once occupied in Willowfield was rapidly converted into some of the first social housing units for impoverished families in South Central. The white flight in the neighborhood happened from 1949 until 1956 and it was notorious for not being peaceful. Racial tensions between Latino Americans, African Americans and Caucasian Americans reached all time highs in all of South Central and Willowfield was not exempt. The neighborhood was victimized with sporadically occurring racially motivated riots in the seven years of white flight. During this period, Latino American and African American street gangs and organized crime groups from East Los Santos inserted themselves within the period of uncertainty and at its worst, chaos and used the tumultuous times to profit on the black market.
From 1956 until 1968, the neighborhood largely remained Latino American and African American, with a minority of Caucasian American and Native American residents who identified as Urban Indians.
After the federal United States government passed the 1965 Immigration and Neutrality Act, immigrants from East Asia and Southeast Asia began arriving in the west coast and east coast of the country. On the west coast, the major destinations for these immigrants were in Washington, Oregon and San Andreas. In San Andreas, the two destination cities were San Fierro and Los Santos. Within Los Santos, these already impoverished immigrants flocked to the slums of East Los Santos, East Beach and South Central. Willowfield saw a steady flow of refugees and socioeconomic immigrants, primarily from China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the aftermath of the wars in Southeast Asia, in particular the Vietnam War. Immigration from East Asia and Southeast Asia peaked in the late 1970s and slowed down in the early 1990s. Most of the earliest East Asian and Southeast Asian immigrants to Willowfield and their descendants eventually left the neighborhood for the Asian communities of Little Toyko in West Los Santos and the Asian communities of East Beach. A minority of them remained and of those that remained, sponsored their families remaining in their countries of origin to settle in the neighborhood.
In the 1980s through to the late 1990s, war refugees and later socioeconomic immigrants from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua settled in Willowfield after immigrating to Los Santos by way of both legal and illegal methods.
In the 2000s, already impoverished Muslim immigrants from North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and to a lesser extent Kosovo and the Southern Caucasus immigrated to South Central and some of them settled in Willowfield. These Muslim immigrants are primarily family units who have fled civil strife, civil war and American-led military invasions in their home countries.
Willowfield's racial demographics as reported by the most recent census in Los Santos in 2012 are:
40% Latino American.
35% African American.
10% Caucasian American.
8% Asian American.
4% Pacific Islander.
2% Native American / unspecified.
1% European (Muslim immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and former Soviet Union).
Willowfield as of 2017 has a population of 8,000 residents. It has remained around the same since the last census was taken in 2012.
Willowfield is serviced by the Willowfield Elementary School, the Willowfield Junior High School, McCaine Junior High School and the Willowfield High School. Two alternative high schools called Second Chance and Discovering Potential are present in the neighborhood and service students with developmental disabilities as well as students with a history of juvenile delinquency.
A lack of quality educational material in the forms of outdated curriculum, old educational tools such as textbooks and the such, among other problems, are present in all Willowfield schools.
All Willowfield schools suffer from infrastructural decay and are in urgent need of renovations. The last renovation of a school in the locality happened with the Willowfield Elementary School in 1999.
Bullying runs rampant in all Willowfield schools. School staff are often unable or unwilling to intervene in bullying. This lack of intervention enables the already mild to severe bullying to escalate into school violence. Because of the school violence within Willowfield's schools, metal detectors used in old airport security systems are posted to all entrances and exits to the school buildings. Two armed peace officers from the Los Santos Police Department are posted to all of the schools everyday.
Athletic programs in all Willowfield schools are mediocre at best and a failure at worst due to a lack of funding, horrible coaching as well as a lack of student interest and motivation.
The high school dropout rate in Willowfield as of 2012 was 56%. The median grade for dropping out of high school was 11 and the median age was 15.
Willowfield-based street gang sets such as those from the 18th Street gang, the Sureños, the Mara Salvatrucha, the Bloods and the Crips are known to recruit youths from local schools. The most vulnerable students, such as those who hardly attend, the bullies and the victims of bullying are prioritized for street gang recruitment. Local street gangs are known to recruit students from schools who are as young as eight years old. Often times, if a student refuses to comply with any given street gang set's recruitment efforts, they are forced to commit crimes for the street gangs against their own will under the threat of physical violence and or death. The sets of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang in the neighborhood have always been notorious for recruiting older children from the Willowfield Elementary School, Willowfield Junior High School and McCaine Junior High School in order to aide in violent missions which leads to their inevitably brutal deaths by beatings, stabbings and shootings at the hands of rival Mara Salvatrucha sets and street gangs in most instances.
Approximately 57% of Willowfield's residents live under the poverty line and Willowfield has a staggering unemployment rate of 62%.
Willowfield's local economy is no longer dominated by people who were born and raised in the neighborhood. The majority of the retail businesses, heavy industry and trades in the locality are owned and operated by immigrants from East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Criminal activities within Willowfield small businesses such as drug dealing as well as more organized extortion rackets greatly contributes to the decline in capital within the neighborhood. Additional criminal activities such as hijacking rackets in the Dorchester-Bork Industrial District also has a greatly negative impact on the day to day functionality of the assembly and manufacturing businesses contained within.
Due to the large involvement with street gangs in Willowfield's economy, it is very corrupt and has been modified to benefit criminals and street gang set members more than the neighborhood's populace at large.
Many people who want to find employment in Willowfield have to settle for dead-end jobs within the retail industry, the assembly and manufacturing lines of the Dorchester-Bork Industrial District or the scrapyards. Businesses in the neighborhood which specialize in the trades such as construction, home renovations and automotives are failing due to a lack of manpower and funding. A considerable amount of the neighborhood's working population are employed outside of it within the assembly and manufacturing factory lines in East Los Santos, the trades in other South Central neighborhoods or the retail industry elsewhere in South Central and other regions of the city.
Because of the destitute economic prospects that residents of Willowfield face, a lot of them turn to blue collar criminal activity in order to monetarily provide for themselves. A considerable amount of the locality's populace who are involved with criminal activity are either tied to street gang sets in some way, shape or form or are initiated members of them. Due to the amount of broken and socioeconomically dysfunctional families in the neighborhood, criminal activity and especially street gangs offer many of the local youths protection, a sense of family belonging and monetary benefits that they cannot obtain with their own biological families.
It is estimated by researchers into the crime in South Central Los Santos that around 30% of all youths aged twelve to twenty five in Willowfield are initiated members of local street gang sets.
Areas in Willowfield which are especially known for criminal activity include the Hyatt and Preston Parks, as well as the Willowfield Plaza. The most common criminal activities to occur in these aforementioned areas is the sale of drugs, the sale of firearms, burglaries and home invasions. These areas are usually unoccupied by people at nighttime except for those involved with neighborhood crime, affiliates and members of street gang sets and the local homeless population.
Bars, nightclubs and strip clubs in the neighborhood are drug dealing hotspots. Bar and club management are paid off by drug dealers and or are intimidated through physical force to allow the dealing of hard drugs throughout their businesses. Fights and brawls in bars, nightclubs and strip clubs happen on a regular basis. The police are frequently dispatched to neighborhood bars, nightclubs and strip clubs in order to remove and or arrest the drug dealers as well as to intervene in fighting and brawling.
Convenience stores and other family owned small businesses in the neighborhood are routinely extorted by street gang sets. Small business owners who are immigrants from Latin America are especially treated harshly by the predominately Latino American street gang sets in the area from the Eighteenth Street gang, the Sureños and the Mara Salvatrucha.
Sex crimes such as sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape happen in Willowfield on a semi-regular basis but the prevalence of the victims reporting of misdemeanors and felonies is very low. The vast majority of sex crimes committed against people in the neighborhood are done by street gang sets, in particular the sets from the Mara Salvatrucha and to a lesser extent the Eighteenth Street gang and the Sureños. Well over half of those victimized by sex crimes in the neighborhood are innocent people who are wholly uninvolved with criminal activity and street gangs.
Hijacking of trucking transport shipments is known to happen on an occasional basis in the Dorchester-Bork Industrial District of South Willowfield. The cargo in the trucking shipments are stolen and sold off within black market. For the most part, this takes place as a part of local street gang set rackets.
Crimes such as assaults, muggings, robberies, armed robberies and car thefts, among many different others, happen everyday throughout all of Willowfield.
Street gangs have a monopoly on the drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, automotive vehicle theft, extortion and hijacking rings in Willowfield.
The first street gangs in Willowfield popped up between the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons in 1949 and were comprised of veteran East Los Santos street gang members of Latino American and African American descent.
In the early 1950s to the early 1970s, more street gangs with historical origins in East Los Santos popped up in Willowfield and began recruitment of local youths as young as twelve and as old as twenty five.
By the mid to late 1970s, the majority of the Latino American and African American street gangs in Willowfield had joined forces with the 18th Street gang, the Sureños, the Bloods and the Crips.
During the 1970s and into the 1980s, especially during the American crack epidemic, street gang warfare escalated to unprecedented heights in Willowfield and record highs for murders peaked in the years of 1986 - 1993.
The 1990s were characterized by a peak in street gang violence, accompanied by wide-sweeping street gang injunctions and police casefiles against local street gangs which crippled street gang activity in Willowfield for over ten years.
From 1995 onward, street gang activity in Willowfield was limited to street gang members from local 18th Street gang, Sureño, Mara Salvatrucha, Blood and Crip sets operating under the radar.
Levels of criminal activity in Willowfield greatly fluctuated from 1995 until 2010. But, levels of criminal activity have steadily been on the rise since 2010.
Since 2010, a resurgence in street gang related criminal activity in Willowfield has been going on and is entering its seventh year. Law enforcement action against this resurgence has proven to be largely ineffective and has only yielded strong results in the short term.
THE 18TH STREET WILLOWFIELD GANGSTERS: A HISTORY
The 3 founders of the Willowfield Gangsters:
Left to right: John Aguado, Victor Alcalá and Gregory Viniegra.
John is 19, Victor is 23 and Gregory is 20 years old in this picture taken on September 28, 1957.
The 18th Street Willowfield Gangsters have been semi-active in Willowfield with periods of defunctness since their founding by Mexican American residents of Willowfield, as the Willowfield Gangsters, in 1958. The three main founders of the street gang, John Aguado, Victor Alcalá and Gregory Viniegra were members of the 7th Street Gangsters in East Los Santos.
From 1958 into the early 1970s, the original East Los Santos-born shotcallers came and went and the street gang's higher echelons were comprised of Mexican Americans and African Americans who were born and raised in Willowfield come 1974. It was around the time of Victor Alcalá's retirement in 1974 that the marijuana, psychedelic drug and heroin trafficking enterprise that he set up with his fellow shotcallers from East Los Santos, and later Willowfield, became violent.
The drug trade conflicts within street gangs in the neighborhood from 1970 until 1977 escalated from brawls in the streets, as well as fights in local swap meets, community centers, sports club meets, boy scout musters and in schools to street gang warfare with melee weapons and firearms in the streets. Street gangs tirelessly fought each other over territory that was used to sell primarily marijuana, psychedelic drugs and heroin in the neighborhood.
In August 1977, recently initiated Willowfield Gangsters member and illegal Mexican immigrant, sixteen year old year old Jorge "Gauge" Ramirez, publicly murdered twenty year old Edward "Bumpy" Johnson as he left the neighborhood's Walmart superstore with his newborn nephew and twenty six year old sister by shooting him once in the abdomen with a with a pistol. Jorge's reason for shooting Edward dead was that Edward had disrespected Jorge's girlfriend by sexually harassing her and had disrespected the Willowfield Gangsters by not only selling heroin on their turf, but by urinating on and defecating against their mural for fallen members on Arbutus Street.
Jorge "Gauge" Ramirez was eventually tried as an adult upon turning eighteen and was sentenced to a maximum security San Andreas state prison for the first degree murder and weapon felonies on a twenty five year to life sentence. In the seventeenth year of his sentence in 1996, he attempted to stab a corrections officer to death in the High Desert State Prison but was shot and killed in the process.
Edward "Bumpy" Johnson was a long-time member of the Village Town Pirus, a Blood set that he had been a member of since he was fourteen years old. His murder at the hands of Jorge "Gauge" Ramirez, who expressed no remorse and regret for his actions when questioned by police and when speaking for himself in court, began the first street gang war that the Willowfield Gangsters were directly involved with. The war between the Willowfield Gangsters and the Village Town Pirus began in 1977 and dragged on until a formal truce temporarily ended it in 1982. But, the fighting was resumed in 1985 during the heat of the American crack epidemic. It wasn't until 1989 that the vicious fighting between the two street gangs finally ended, largely because the Village Town Pirus had been rapidly losing its members to murder, states witnesses and lengthy incarcerations in the years preceding.
Street gang warfare in the streets of Willowfield escalated throughout the American crack epidemic of the 1980s and the 1990s. Aside from their war with the Village Town Pirus, the Willowfield Gangsters found themselves at war with local Sureño street gang sets such as the Crazy Vatos 13 and Central Avenue Crips. Other street gangs who had their own problems with the Willowfield Gangsters intervened on the side of their enemies. This led the Willowfield Gangsters to be outnumbered by rival street gangs three to one by 1989. Pressure from municipal and state law enforcement agencies and bureaus in 1987 only weakened the street gang further. In order to obtain wider protection, the shotcallers of the Willowfield Gangsters at the time met with shotcallers from the 18th Street gang in Los Santos and agreed to join the 18th Street gang's umbrella. In 1990, the Willowfield Gangsters became the 18th Street Willowfield Gangsters and simultaneously began paying street taxes to operatives of the Mexican Mafia (eMe) who were active in South Central.
Municipal, state and federal law enforcement intervention hit Willowfield's street gangs hard in the later years of the American crack epidemic.
From 1987 onward, the Los Santos Police Department and the San Andreas Sheriff's Department in conjunction with the San Andreas Bureau of Investigation began cracking down on the street gangs in the neighborhood. Eventually come 1990, due to the severity of the drug and firearm trafficking within the neighborhood, as well as lesser known rackets such as the automotive vehicle theft industry, among others, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco aided municipal and state law enforcement in cracking down hard against street gangs in the neighborhood. From 1990 onward to 1994, street gangs in the neighborhood were crippled by wide-sweeping injunctions and later the conclusions of municipal, state and federal criminal investigations. A considerable amount of street gang members from the 18th Street gang, the Sureños, the Bloods and the Crips were incarcerated for state and federal felonies which resulted from their criminal activities within their respective street gangs.
With most of Willowfield's original street gangs decimated by lengthy and exhaustive street gang wars over drug turf and simultaneous law enforcement intervention throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, the neighborhood's street gang activity was drastically slashed in half for the remainder of the 1990s. From 1995 onward to the early 2000s, the only considerable street gang activity in the neighborhood involved the Mara Salvatrucha expanding their presence into Willowfield. Sporadic fighting between the Willowfield Gangsters and the Western Locos Salvatruchos occurred from 1995 until 2003, when the latter set became defunct in the neighborhood.
18th Street Willowfield Gangsters pose with the Los Flores Boulevard Dieciocheros and the 18th Street 415s in front of an 18th Street mural dedicated to deceased members of the gang in an alleyway off of Winona Avenue. Photograph circa September 1994.
THE RESSURECTION OF THE 18TH STREET WILLOWFIELD GANGSTERS IN 2014 - 2015
The 18th Street Willowfield Gangsters were resurrected by immediate and extended family of 18th Street Willowfield Gangsters members who gangbanged in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The street gang's stronghold was in Willowfield, and although they lacked in number, they made up for it with their sheer force and connections to bigger fish in the criminal underworld in Los Santos and immediately outside of it.
The street gang came out from the shadows in the summer of 2014 under new leadership and re-took their neighborhood in wide sweeping, short term gang wars that struck their neighborhood like the plague. The gang's activity peaked around the months of September to December 2014, under the proven and reliable leadership of James Paredes, Idris Prugo and Sonia Martinez.
A new generation following the autumn to winter 2014 one rose up under the leadership of Idris Prugo and Sebastian Ojeda, which saw the remainder of old generation members fade out of relevance. New generations of the gang constantly came in and this was because many youths who were looking for employment and direction in life to flocked to what was readily available for their taking; that was the street gang.
A period of peaceful internal and external relations followed the demise of the autumn to winter 2014 generations, which saw James Paredes, Idris Prugo and Sonia Martinez take a backseat within the gang and saw Sebastian Ojeda take the lead.
Later on in 2015, James Paredes was incarcerated in the maximum security San Andreas Correctional Facility in Las Venturas County and rumors were started that stated that he was a police informant and that he freely associated with convicted sex offenders while behind bars in the state prison. Upon returning to Willowfield, he, to his surprise, found that the neighborhood's locals were very hostile towards him, which resulted in him fleeing the city. Sonia Martinez, shortly thereafter the flight of James Paredes, retired from the gang in order to raise her son, Brian Prugo, with Idris Prugo.
These events all led to Sebastian Ojeda taking the reigns of the gang and continuing to lead it into a rather harmonious existence.
With fewer and fewer youths and young adults tricking into the gang, coupled with alarmingly rapid growing rates of desertion and incarceration, their recruitment drive suffered the final nail in the coffin when the war between the gang and El Corona 13 broke out, which saw the murders and public assassinations of many new and many key members of the street gang.
Despite the war's end, it did not reinvigorate interest in the gang and key middlemen, known as enforcers, which funneled money from the street members, known as soldiers, to the leaders, known as shotcallers, became no-shows and were considered by the rest of the gang to be deserters.
On December 24th and December 25th in 2015, federal agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives converged on multiple businesses and dwellings throughout all of Willowfield and netted a total of 6 arrests on individuals who met dozens of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act predicates.
These 6 arrests were out of a total of 8 people on a federal indictment list; 2 of those people's bodies were discovered by federal agents during raids on apartments in the early afternoon of December 24th. The aforementioned 2 people had been both stabbed and bludgeoned to death in their sleep within the bedrooms of their apartments during the night prior to December 24. Federal authorities later classed the murders as hired hits that were orchestrated by assassins in the criminal underworld, and, despite strenuous efforts to bring the killers to justice, no credible or useful leads ever came out.
With the recent gang wars and the indictments of key members of the gang's organized crime operations, many of the latter being middle aged men who ended street-level operations long ago, the remnants of the gang have either entered into retirement in within the neighborhood, left to helplessly and hopelessly watch as new gangs spring up and take over what was once theirs, or have fled the city, state or country for their own safety or for their own interests. Despite many retired and deserted members of the street gang still living and working within black market activity throughout South Central Los Santos, the moral will to salvage the scraps and to build the street gang back up is virtually non-existent.
The gang is now defunct and its members have taken to their own individualistic criminal activities or are committing criminal activities for different causes (namely other street gangs and other organized crime groups) that are based elsewhere in Los Santos, elsewhere in San Andreas and elsewhere throughout the Pacific and Western United States.