Mexican Mafia Prison Hit Ensnares Pomona’s La Eme Skipper “Big Mike” Lerma, ‘20 Murder Charged Out Of L.A.

October 19, 2021 — According to a federal indictment filed last week, Mexican Mafia shot caller Michael (Big Mike) Lerma ordered the murder of jail inmate Steve Bencom in the summer of 2020 for refusing to pay “La Eme” a drug debt he accrued behind bars.

The 65-year old Lerma is alleged to run the Mexican Mafia’s branch in Pomona, California. The indictment was made up of both murder and racketeering counts.

Mexican Mafia members Jose (Swifty) Gonzales, Carlos (Popeye) Gonzales and Juan (Squeaky) Sanchez are charged with strangling Bencom inside his cell at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center on June 28, 2020. They hail from Pomona and work for Big Mike Lerma, per court filings. If convicted, all four face life prison sentences.

Lerma controls drug dealing, gambling and extortion rackets both on the street in Pomona and inside the L.A. County Jail facilities, according to the indictment. La Eme was founded during the late 1950s inside the California corrections system and in the 1970s and 80s it’s influence and operations moved outside prison walls.

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