By 1926 the Mexican government of Plutarco Elías Calles had sparked widespread discontent with its radical social policies. Plots to overthrow the administration ran rampant. One of the strangest conspiracies arose within a clique of exiled Mexican military officers . . . in Hollywood.
Bill Mills takes readers inside the forgotten story of General Enrique Estrada and his Southern California army. Secretly gathering recruits from city barrios and Imperial Valley farms, Estrada and his staff of ex-generals not only built an invasion force but stockpiled an arsenal of small arms to supply it. Attempts to acquire armored vehicles and airplanes had moved forward when law enforcement got wind of the clandestine military activity. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, newly reorganized under J. Edgar Hoover, assigned a four-man team to unravel the plot. Racing against time, the agents pitted old-school legwork against Estrada’s determination and, as the day of the invasion arrived, confronted the general’s caravan fewer than ten miles from the Mexican border.
Packed with intrigue, The Estrada Plot is the unlikely true crime drama of how the early FBI foiled an invasion from within the United States.
Bill Mills writes about twentieth-century clandestine operations and espionage history. He is the author of The League: The True Story of Average Americans on the Hunt for World War I Spies and Treacherous Passage: Germany’s Secret Plot against the United States in Mexico during World War I (Potomac, 2017). He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.
"The Estrada Plot would be a wonderful source for undergraduate lecture classes, as well as for history enthusiasts interested in a well-woven and well-researched tale of 'true crime' along the U.S.–Mexico border."—Julian F. Dodson, Journal of Arizona History
“A well-documented and fascinating read, The Estrada Plot describes how early FBI agents in California thwarted an effort by former secretary of war Enrique Estrada to invade Mexico with an assembled army and air force to overthrow the government. Without access to modern high-tech surveillance tools, these early FBI agents used informants, paper trails, and gumshoe detective skills to stop Estrada’s secret army.”—Nancy Savage, executive director, Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
“The Estrada Plot introduces us to a fascinating but forgotten chapter of the nascent FBI and its cross-border battles with Mexico. It’s a story from the past that has special resonance today.”—Neil Swidey, author of Trapped Under the Sea and The Assist
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments 1. The Road to Exile 2. Rumors of War 3. Merchants of Death 4. Chasing after Shadows 5. Pursuit to the Border 6. The Longest Trial on Record 7. A Change of Fortunes Notes Bibliography Index