Vasquez Gang – Outlaw Gang of California

Tiburcio Vasquez

Tiburcio Vasquez

The Vasquez Gang, led by Tiburcio Vasquez, committed armed robbery and rustled horses and cattle up and down central and southern California from the 1860s to 1875.

Excusing their actions by saying they were simply “punishing” the whites for discrimination against those of Mexican and Spanish descent, the gang never took advantage of Hispanics, leading to their being sometimes being viewed as “folk heroes.” Though members of the gang changed throughout the years, some included Abdon Leiva, who would wind up giving State’s evidence against Vasquez; Tomas Redondo, alias Procopio or Red-Handed Dick; the blood-thirsty villain Juan Soto; and Vasquez’s chief lieutenant Clodovio Chavez.

Though wanted men, the pursuit of the outlaws increased dramatically after they robbed a store in Tres Pinos, California, taking some $200 in gold, and leaving behind three dead innocent bystanders in 1873. A reward of $1,000 was placed on Tiburcio Vasquez, that over time, increased to $15,000, sending lawmen from Fresno, Tulare, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, and Monterey Counties scrambling after the elusive leader.

Vasquez gang member Abdon Leiva turned states evidence against Tiburcio Vasquez

Vasquez gang member Abdon Leiva turned states evidence against Tiburcio Vasquez

Vasquez was finally caught in May 1874, tried, and hanged on March 19, 1875. Vasquez’s loyal lieutenant, Clodovio Chavez, fled to Arizona, where he was killed by lawmen in November 1875 near Yuma, Arizona. Juan Soto was killed in a gunfight with Alameda County Sheriff, Harry Morse.


© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated June 2021.

Also See: 

Outlaw Gangs

Outlaws on the Frontier

Outlaws & Scoundrels Photo Gallery

Tiburcio Vasquez – California Desperado