Joseph Raymond Lucero: Neron “Creeper” Vargas

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Lucero
Lucero

Joseph Raymond Lucero

I found Lucero to be one of the more surprising cast members. Take a look…

The Beginning

Joseph Raymond “Joey Ray” Lucero was born on September 28, 1977 in San Diego. That is to say, a third-generation gang member whose parents, brothers, and uncles all struggled with heroin addiction. Joey Ray’s troubles with the law began at the age of eight. In fact, he was in youth detention and later California state prison for twelve of his first 26 years.

Joseph on Joey Ray

“I was arrested and sent to juvenile hall for the first time at 8 years old for burglary, then I had a couple of assaults which sent me to another juvenile facility, 3 times I was sent to Rites of Passage in Nevada, then to Gladiator School California Youth Authority, finally to California State Prison. ” Lucero recalls.

Lucero’s life was spiraling out of control. When all you know is being behind locked doors, it becomes a trigger for anxiety. His earliest memories are of his mother selling heroin from the house and his father involved in gangs.

Release from California Youth Authority

The shirtless picture above was on July 24, 1996, fresh out of the California Youth Authority. He was 18 1/2 years old and had spent 6 years there. Lucero lives behind bars from the age of 12 to 19. 37 days after his release in 1996, he returned to prison for another 6 years.

A Product of an Environment Created by his Parents

I grew up with no color lines. We were all poor at the welfare office. It was white, black, yellow, brown, orange… pink. I would watch Facts of Life, The Cosby Show, Silver Spoons. To me, that was something I wished for.” said Lucero. That didn’t usually happen for the ghetto boys. In the ghetto the social norm is to teach your kids which streets they can walk on at night for fear of retaliation or one of them just catching a stray bullet. And further, the social norm to wear a certain color and represent a certain neighborhood, as if the world around them is a threat… which in most cases in the hood this is a reality.

So, is it these children’s fault to believe that this “gang life” or “brotherhood” is all that life has to offer them?  These children learn that the gang members are willing to catch a bullet for them, even kill another man in their honor. Then they discover the same is expected in return from them. It sounds eerily familiar to something a Veteran would say about his war brothers. But, “Joey Ray” Lucero had aspirations to change his original form to something great. He wanted it for himself, and later as an adult, for his children.

Joseph Jr.’s Birth and Joey Ray’s Decision

When his son was born while he was in state prison, Lucero made the decision to stop gang-banging. He became active with the 12-step program Criminals and Gang members Anonymous (CGA), which was the foundation upon which he built his efforts to leave his former life behind. He broke the cycle and turned his life around for himself and his family.

“While in State Prison I made the hardest decision of my life. I knew I wanted to be a dad. I knew I wanted to have a normal life, but normal life didn’t seem attainable or within reach.”

“I’m afraid of very few things but I was afraid. I didn’t know what life was going to be like if I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison. I wasn’t just being told by a counselor that if I didn’t change, this was the life I was going to look forward to. With this, my son was going to grow up just like me. He’s going to be a gangster, he’s going to be a felon, he’s going to have all this pain because of me. I had a belief system and was loyal to my homeboys and was putting him now in the same cycle that I found myself at in the beginning.”

Final release

On April 8, 2003 Lucero was released on parole. It was at this time that he began his quest to prove that he could make it as a father and a contributing member of the community. Father Greg Boyle offered him a job at Homeboy Industries, and he utilized his CGA experience to do outreach and speaking for Homeboy that change is possible.  Through telling his story, Joey has been able to help bring awareness to the issues facing the formerly incarcerated. 

“I went to this 12-step group based on a lifestyle addiction and I surrendered. I found a sponsor and went through the 12 steps. I started to have hope and started to learn my belief system was misguided. I was released April 8, 2003. I started to carry this message of “Change Is Possible” thanks to the love and support from the first man who taught me about myself, Richard Mejico, second to the man whom I call Pop. Then Father Greg Boyle gave me the opportunity and the platform to prove myself and to become a real man by working at Homeboy Industries.” said Lucero. “Joey Ray” is just one of many success stories to come out of Homeboys Industries.

Real Daddy Gang

#RealDaddyGang is a hashtag Lucero himself frequently uses on his Instagram and Twitter. The decision he made in prison to change his life around, so that he could really be a father to his son, and spare his son the life he was born into, has clearly been a success.

In addition to his son, Joseph Raymond Lucero, Jr., Joey Ray has added two little princesses to his brood… Brooklyn Love Lucero and Evelyn Faith Lucero.

I did not see any references to a current spouse, but did see one photo of Joey with the mother of his children, with the following caption: “IT’S IMPORTANT TO MY KIDS THAT I SUPPORT AND BE COOL WITH THERE MOTHER… NO MATTER HOW I FEEL I RESPECT THAT..AINT EASY THOUGH.LOL  #illdoanythingformykids #imadad #realtraditionsbeingpasseddown”

 

“The fact is, today I’m still chasing this dream and still fighting for sobriety one day at a time.”

The “New Life” and the Acting Bug

On to a New Life… Chasing a New High.

Joseph’s introduction to acting came in the 2006 Blockbuster hit, ‘Gridiron Gang’ with The Rock and Xzibit. “The writer, Jeff McGuire, who was a God send, chose me and wrote me in as (Chavez #25), the heavily tattooed kid. And since then, I’ve been chasing that dream” a grateful Lucero said.

In addition, in 2007 opportunity knocked again for Lucero with the documentary Father G and the Homeboys.  

Also, Lucero has appeared in episodes of the television series ERThe ShieldCold Case, The CloserCriminal Minds, and Shameless. He is presently cast as “Creeper” in the Sons of Anarchy spin-off series Mayans MC.

MAYANS MC

Joseph Raymond Lucero as Neron “Creeper” Vargas, an ex-junkie from Los Angeles and road captain of the Santo Padre charter.  All in all, there is little known about Creeper except that he got shot and was taken to the club’s “doctor” in Tijuana. Then, we discovered that he has been recuperating at Victoria’s brothel. Finally, he left with his Mayan brothers at the end of Episode 5 to return to the clubhouse.

 

I for one cannot help but wonder what Lucero’s “Creeper” has in store of us next.

Check back here each week for recaps and spoilers. Again, please join my Facebook group Mayans MC Fan Group  and “Like” my Facebook Page Mayans MC Fan Group Page … See you there for great chats and discussion about episodes!