10 Things to Know About The Legend of Honcho Wayne Day, The Godfather of Watts

10 Things to Know About The Legend of Honcho Wayne Day, The Godfather of Watts


10 Things to Know About The Legend of Honcho Wayne Day: The Godfather of Watts Photo: YouTube

Wayne Day, known as Honcho, was a leader of a notorious Los Angeles street gang called the Grape Street Crips who dominated the area of Watts.

Before he was arrested in 1996, Honcho led his gang to become one of the top drug rings in the country.
When he was 40, Honcho was arrested at a motel on the Las Vegas Strip, FBI officials said in a statement. He was charged with distribution and conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, and possession and conspiracy to possess goods stolen from interstate commerce.

FBI agents and police officers in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, and Jackson, Miss., arrested dozens of Honcho’s alleged confederates and seized more than $500,000 in cash, more than 40 kilograms of crack and powder cocaine, and five kilograms of amphetamines, The Los Angeles Times reported.

It marked the end of Honcho’s reign.

Here are 10 things to know about the legend of Honcho Wayne Day, The Godfather of Watts.

1. The Grape Street Watts Crips

The Grape Street Watts Crips is a Crip gang subset based in Watts whose members wear the colors blue, gray, and purple.

The Grape Street gang was formed in the 1950s and was named the Watts Varrio Grape Street (WVG). Initially, it was mainly a “Chicano” gang before later morphing into a traditional Crip gang with mainly Black members, Police Magazine reported. African Americans from Grape Street split from the Latino Watts Varrio Grape after the Latinos proclaimed allegiance to the Mexican Mafia. The Black members adopted the name Eastside Grape Street Watts Crips. Now known as the Grape Street Watts Crips, it is still active today.

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, the Day family became prominent Grape Street gang members.

Honcho told StreetTV in 2018 that he get got into the gang game at the age of 15. He initially joined the Crips in Compton before taking over Watts.

2. Grape Street crime ring

Honcho led a national crime ring that distributed cocaine and crack from Mexico to cities in the Midwest and South, and in the process, he profited by millions of dollars, The Los Angeles Times reported. 

3. Jordan Downs projects

Infamous Watts housing project the Jordan Downs was first opened in 1944 for war workers, according to the YouTube show Mobb Ties. The Jordan Downs later became the home of the Grape Street Crips with Honcho as the leader. With the gang headquartered at the Jordan Downs, Honcho “took the Crips to a whole new level” of organized crime, according to Mobb Ties.

4. Honcho’s sentence

In 1997, Honcho was sentenced to 19 years, five months in federal prison, and five years of supervised release. The judge also ruled that he obstructed justice by lying on the stand during the trial, The Los Angeles Times reported. He was sentenced on several other related charges.

5. Far-reaching crime ring

The Grape Street Crips crime ring sent cocaine and crack to cities in the Midwest and South. Millions of dollars was sent back to Los Angeles, where it was used to buy more drugs from Mexican suppliers, officials said.

6. Honcho nickname

The slang name “Honcho” is a shortened slang term for “head honcho,” meaning the boss.

7. Godfather of Watts

Honcho was often called the “Godfather of Watts.”

8. ‘Menace II Society’ connection

Several scenes in the movie “Menace II Society” were filmed in the Jordan Downs projects as well as other Grape Street Watts turf, Police Magazine reported.

9. Honcho’s mother, Betty Day

While Honcho was building a reputation as a notorious gang leader, his parents seem to have been standup citizens and worked in the community.

Honcho’s father, Arthur Day, ran a trucking business.

His mother, Betty Day, was an activist and a big presence in Watts, so much so that she was called the “Godmother of Watts.” Betty Day was a “legend in Watts, her home for more than 60 years,” L.A. Weekly reported.

She worked against gang violence as the president of the Watts Gang Task Force Council and was connected with local politicians, including Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa, the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013. Betty Day dealt regularly with the Los Angeles Police (LAPD) Chief Bratton, Police Magazine reported. She also served on the LAPD’s Southeast Division community advisory board.

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10. Honcho: gangster- turned-law-abiding citizen

Honcho was released from prison in 2007 and went on to live a “law-abiding life,” according to Mobb Ties. His father said he came and went to work at his trucking business, hauling tomatoes.