The Star-News


Deadly border crossing

Sat, Jan 29 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Susan Walter

On May 20, 1929 a car crossed the Mexican border into the United States.

In the car was a week's proceeds consisting of $600 in cash and checks worth $70,000 from the Agua Caliente casino.

An additional $10,000 in cash and checks were from the Foreign Club. All of it was stashed behind the driver's seat of a 1929 tan Cadillac.

Driving the car was Jose Perez Borrego, accompanied by Nemisio Rudolfo Monroy, a guard. Both were armed, as was usual on these money runs, but nothing untoward was expected. The auto was bound for the Bank of Italy in San Diego.

In Nestor, a brand new-later found to be stolen and repainted - Model A Ford began to follow the money car. Its occupants were Marty Colson and Robert Lee Cochran.

At The Old Dike at 32nd Street in National City, Colson and Cochran opened fire with a machine gun, puncturing the rear tires. The caddy stopped. From the Ford leaped a hoodlum shouting "Stick 'em up!"

What was supposed to happen, according to testimony in court later, was that the Cadillac occupants were expected to surrender and hand over the loot.

Because this was a rigged run.

Our two thugs had been coached for this heist by Marcel "The Greek" Dellon who was, according to his rap sheet, a mob associated bootlegger.

But things went seriously wrong. Apparently someone didn't tell the Caddie occupants about the plan. Instead of handing over the money, Monroy and Borrego opened fire, but missed the assailants, who, surprised by this unexpected reaction returned fire spraying the Cadillac with a hail of bullets.

They found their marks; both Borrego and Monroy were later found dead in their car. Colston, injured by a slug in his shoulder, rushed over to the Caddy, reached in, and jerked the loot from behind the driver's seat.

This activity had been witnessed by a number of drivers and their passengers.

In most cases, these people assumed it was a shoot out between police and bootleggers, or that two gangs of criminals were battling over ill gotten gains.

Prudently, they avoided getting involved. However, one woman, Sally Stanley, shocked by the incident, gave chase. Soon she and her passenger realized their danger, abandoned the attempt, and called the police, reporting the incident and the license plate of the Model A.

The bad guys drove north, ditched the car and holed up. The resulting police work and court hearings didn't occur here.

But if you want all of the story, check out an exceptionally well researched book, called "Satan's Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America's Greatest Gaming Resort", by Paul J. Vanderwood. He details how that now defunct establishment affected our region.

And it really wasn't very pretty, because among other things, the first mob associated use of a tommy gun in the county was used in National City.

 


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