‘Chicano Squad’ Podcast Explores All-Latino Homicide Team Formed in Late 1970s

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Hosted by actress, writer and advocate Cristela Alonzo (TV’s Cristela), Chicano Squad is a new podcast that revisits the formation of an all-Latino homicide team in Houston, Texas, in the late 1970s, prompted by the brutal murder of a young Latino veteran at the hands of local police officers.

It was on May 5, 1977 when 23-year-old Mexican American and Vietnam War veteran Jose Campos Torres, after an incident at a bar, was beaten by officers in the Houston Police Department and thrown into a nearby creek where he was found dead days later.

Campos Torres’ death led to protests by Latinos, whose communities were already facing discrimination, police violence and a series of unsolved murders. The officers who killed Campos Torres served nine months in prison for civil rights violations. Two of them were convicted of negligent homicide and given a year of probation and fined $1.

“We never got justice,” his sister told the Houston Chronicle in 2011. “All those cops, they just got a slap on the wrist, and you know what? Where’s my brother? He’s gone. The cops got to go home to their families while he was floating in the water for three days.”

Chicano Squad, which is on its fourth episode, offers listeners an in-depth look at what was happening in Houston at the time, how the Campos Torres murder was the catalyst for the formation of the squad and how the squad handled its heavy caseload, which included 52 murder cases with no leads.

New episodes of Chicano Squad air every Tuesday on your favorite podcast platform.