The process was routine. L.A. County Sheriff's homicide investigator Kevin Lloyd was flipping through snapshots of tattooed gang members.Then one caught his attention.
Inked on the pudgy chest of a young Pico Rivera gangster who had been picked up and released on a minor offense was the scene of a 2004 liquor store slaying that had stumped Lloyd for more than four years.
Each key detail was right there: the Christmas lights that lined the roof of the liquor store where 23-year-old John Juarez was gunned down, the direction his body fell, the bowed street lamp across the way and the street sign — all under the chilling banner of RIVERA KILLS, a reference to the gang Rivera-13.
As if to seal the deal, below the collarbone of the gang member known by the alias "Chopper" was a miniature helicopter raining down bullets on the scene.
Lloyd's discovery of the tattoo in 2008 launched a bizarre investigation that soon led to Anthony Garcia's arrest for the shooting. Then sheriff's detectives, posing as gang members, began talking to Garcia, 25, in his holding cell. They got a confession that this week led to a first-degree murder conviction in a killing investigators had once all but given up hope of solving.
For Lloyd, the image on the chest of the delicate, doe-eyed gang member brought back a rush of memories. The snapshot was taken inside the sheriff's Pico Rivera station after Garcia was arrested in a routine traffic stop and booked on suspicion of driving with a suspended license.
Before they are released, suspected gang members typically are asked to remove their shirts and have their tattoos photographed by graffiti team deputies. Taggers often mark their own bodies with the same signatures they spray on buses and storefronts — and eyewitnesses to crimes sometimes help close cases by recalling distinctive tattoos.
Homicide Lt. Dave Dolson said gang members frequently get symbolic tattoos to bolster their street cred: three dots on the hand to signify "mi vida loca" ("my crazy life"), sketches of prisons where they've done time, gang insignia prominently stenciled on their heads and torsos.
2008年，洛杉矶负责谋杀案件的探员凯文·洛依德（Kevin Lloyd）在翻阅当地一群黑帮分子的纹身照片，一名隶属于Pico Rivera帮派的年轻男子引起了他的注意：
安东尼·加西亚（Anthony Garcia）胸口上的纹身描绘的是洛依德四年前接手而一直没有线索的酒类专卖店枪杀案现场……店牌上标着“LIQUOR”（酒、酒精）、天花板上有圣诞节的灯装饰、店外的路灯，以及被害者的尸体，上方写着大大的“RIVERA KILLS”，旁边更有一架武装直升机在开火——加西亚在帮派中的外号是“Chopper”，既指斧头，也可以指直升机。纹身上的图案，正是他引以为豪的杀人经历。