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The story of Joaquin Murieta

The story of Joaquin Murieta and his fellow criminals began, later glorified as heroes of resistance to American expansion.

Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
California gangster. Hood. F. Remington

In December 1850, the gang dealt its first blow. At night, twelve people attacked the John Marsh ranch. During the robbery, they killed one man, but saved the life of two others. The bandits made a mistake, leaving witnesses, and in their subsequent raids they tried not to make such mistakes. Ten days after the robbery of the Marsha ranch, a gang seized the Digby Smith ranch. After the three people in the house let themselves be tied, two of them had their skulls cut open, and the third was cut off. Leaving, the self-satisfied bandits burned down the ranch. In February, they again attempted to commit a robbery, but were repelled by well-armed wakeiro. Realizing that now, after several attacks, the settlers would be on their guard, Claudio moved closer to the gold mines, where his people robbed and killed lonely travelers.

Joaquin Murieta joined the gang of Claudio Feliz in September 1851 and took part in the killings and robberies, but when the bandits began to attack the heels, he hastened to leave the criminal business and settled in Los Angeles. Claudio, meanwhile, continued to ramp up. Among his victims were whites, blacks, Chinese and Mexicans. He did not care whom to kill, if only it would bring income. This was his main mistake – the compatriots turned away from him, and now he could not count on their help if necessary. Moreover, the Mexicans themselves organized a hunt for him as a rabid wolf, and soon the gang of Claudio Felisa was cornered. According to eyewitnesses, during the ensuing battle between the bandits and the pursuers, Claudio was “shot to pieces.”

Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
Tray for sifting gold nuggets and sand. California, approx. 1860s

Soon, Joaquin Murieta returned to the criminal trade. Together with his wife’s brother Reyes Felice, he was suspected of killing major police general Joshua Bin. Reyes was caught and hanged. It was rumored that Joaquin abandoned his wife’s brother and fled, leaving him without help. The publisher of the Alta California newspaper wrote: “Murieta was suspected of the murder of General Bean in the San Gabriel mission, but attempts to seize him were unsuccessful. Since then, every murder or robbery has been attributed to Joaquin. Sometimes it’s Joaquin Carrillo who committed all these crimes, sometimes Joaquin Murieta, then Joaquin, someone else, but always Joaquin. ”

Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
The Chinese were the easiest prey of Murieta’s bandits. Hood. A. Rodriguez

Indeed, no one could name the leader of the gang. Moreover, no one knew if one gang or several of them were operating in the district. It was rumored that the gang consisted of five Joaquins – Murieta, Carrillo, Rapture, Bothellier and Valenzuela. It is interesting to note that the ex-husband of Joaquin Murieta’s mother bore the name Carrillo, and later the young man sometimes really introduced himself as Joaquin Carrillo. Another gang member was Manuel Garcia, nicknamed the Three-Fingered Jack. He was particularly disliked by gold prospectors of Chinese descent. Within two months, the gang stole about $ 100,000 in gold, stole more than a hundred horses and killed 22 people, most of whom were Chinese. Asians usually went unarmed, it was easy to kill and rob them, and therefore they became the main goal of the Five Joaquin gang. In some cases, bandits cut the throat of poor Chinese just for fun. So the revenge of Joaquin Murieta for white Americans for the destitute does not hold water.

In early May 1853, California Governor John Bigler signed into law to organize a California Rangers squad with the goal of destroying a “band of robbers led by five Joaquins.” The commander of the rangers was appointed Harry Love, who was awarded the rank of captain.

The Rangers Love was the only and very mercantile interest. Each participant was paid a salary of $ 150 per month, which at that time was quite a large sum. In addition, the entire team relied on the payment of a prize of $ 1,000 for each killed Joaquin. In addition, the Chinese diaspora, frightened by the constant killing of its people, has collected an additional bonus of $ 1,000.

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