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Thursday, April 28, 2022

3 Orange County, California Mexican Mafia Members & 28 Associates Indicted on Federal Racketeering, Murder and Drug Trafficking Charges

"Socalj" For Borderland Beat

A 33-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges 31 members and associates of the Orange County Mexican Mafia with racketeering offenses, two murders, six attempted murders, and related drug and gun charges.

Officials say the gang, known as “La Eme” preyed on vulnerable communities using fear and violence, controlled the majority of street gangs throughout Orange County, and received “taxes” paid by those gangs to allow them to deal drugs in that area. The reputed head of the Orange County branch of the Mexican Mafia, key leaders in the street gang, and multiple other associates have been named in a federal racketeering indictment unsealed Wednesday that alleges murder, attempted murder, drug dealing, and weapons charges.

The federal indictment incorporates two cases involving reputed Orange County Mexican Mafia chief Johnny Martinez, 46, that have lingered in Orange County Superior Court and encountered legal roadblocks that jeopardized the prosecutions. One murder case against him was thrown out by a judge, and another was on the verge of dismissal based on a new state law requiring more active participation by a co-defendant in a killing.

Now the reputed gang boss faces an assortment of federal allegations detailed in the 106-page indictment that names 30 other defendants. Federal prosecutors allege the racketeering conspiracy began in 2016 and continued through this year. The indictment alleges multiple murders, extortion, robbery, and drug trafficking. Local authorities say Martinez rose to power following the 2018 death of Peter Ojeda in prison, where he was serving a 15-year sentence.

Like Ojeda, Martinez is accused of running the gang from jail and prison, ordering hits on rival gangs and drug dealers in and out of custody who fail to "pay taxes" through various means of communication such as smuggled contraband phones and using girlfriends and wives to convey messages on the outside.  During the yearslong investigation, dubbed “Operation Night Owl,” authorities conducted undercover purchases of meth and heroin from O.C. Mexican Mafia associates who were allegedly selling the drugs on behalf of Johnny Martinez and the gang.

In addition to these alleged violent acts, law enforcement investigated the OC Mexican Mafia’s methamphetamine and heroin trafficking activities on the streets, as well as in the prisons and jails. Authorities conducted multiple undercover purchases of methamphetamine and heroin from OC Mexican Mafia associates who were selling narcotics on behalf of Johnny Martinez and the OC Mexican Mafia.

An image taken from a doorbell-type video camera before a homicide involving the Orange County Mexican detailed in a federal indictment is seen in a photo provided by the FBI.

Acting on behalf of Martinez, Gregory Munoz, who was in prison at the time, is accused of ordering a robbery that led to the death of 35-year-old Robert Rios in Placentia on Jan. 19, 2017, the indictment alleges. Ysrael Jacob Cordova, Ricardo Valenzuela, and Augustine Valazquez, who was convicted of murder in the case in state court, were allegedly ordered to carry out the robbery that turned deadly.

Charles Frederick Coghill, who was also charged in state court in connection with Rios' murder, was a key witness for the prosecution in Velazquez's trial. Coghill was not named in the federal complaint.

Coghill drove Cordova, Velazquez, and Valenzuela to Rios' residence in the 900 block of Vista Avenue, state prosecutors said in Velazquez's trial. Velazquez was shot in the leg as Rios fought back, and Coghill later dropped Velazquez off at his home, where he called a friend to give him a ride to a hospital in San Diego, prosecutors said in the trial last year.


Munoz had a subsequent falling out with the gang and he was stripped of his shot-caller status in March 2017, the federal complaint alleges. Sources have said that Munoz and Martinez had a personal falling out when Johnny Martinez failed to tell Munoz his girlfriend was cheating on him, and Martinez felt disrespected by Munoz's griping about it. On March 28, 2017, Martinez directed the gang to attack Munoz in Calipatria State Prison, the federal indictment alleges.


Munoz was slashed with shivs by gang members on April 6, 2017, the complaint alleges. Meanwhile, Martinez and others named in the indictment set up methamphetamine and heroin deals, but unknown to them, two of the dealers were confidential informants, according to the complaint.

In August 2017, Martinez, Omar Mejia, and Robert Martinez -- no relation to Johnny -- conspired to kill Munoz, who was then out of custody, the indictment alleges. Robert Martinez and Frank Mosqueda attacked Munoz, with Mosqueda shooting Munoz multiple times in the back, according to the indictment. But Munoz somehow survived the ambush.

On Aug. 20, 2017, Martinez ordered the killing of Richard Villeda "for stealing money and drugs from defendant Martinez," the indictment alleges. Villeda was shot to death just after midnight on Aug. 21, 2017. in the 800 block of East Culver Avenue. Defendants Kevin Trejo, James Mendez, and Mike Escobar "lured" the victim into a vehicle with Escobar behind the wheel, the indictment alleges.

The indictment also details confrontations with a tire shop owner for dealing drugs out of the business without permission and running protection rackets for marijuana dispensaries. Defendant Robert Aguirre was accused of "greenlighting" one unnamed man for an attack in October 2017. The victim was shot as he ran from gang members on Oct. 24, 2017.

The indictment alleges that on one occasion in November 2017, defendant Luis Heriberto Vasquez handed over $1,625 in street taxes from local gang members to Martinez, who presided over the transaction from a smuggled-in cell phone. That same month, Martinez and defendant Dennis Ortiz arranged to smuggle contraband cell phones into Salinas Valley State Prison, which were sold for $1,000 apiece, the indictment alleges.

On Dec. 1, 2017, a Theo Lacy Jail inmate was slashed at the direction of the gang, the indictment alleges. That same month, Ortiz allegedly ordered another man "be killed for warning other gang members of violations that were pending against them," the indictment alleges.

Another Mexican Mafia-directed attack was carried out on Christmas Day, 2017, the indictment alleges. On New Year's Day, 2018, Martinez and Mejia allegedly used the Signal app to discuss killing another defendant, Michael Cooper, while in custody at Calipatria State Prison, the indictment alleges. Cooper's sin was ordering an attack on another gang member that wasn't authorized by Martinez and for "being suspected of causing a police raid against" the gang, according to the indictment.

Cooper was attacked with shivs on Jan. 5, 2018, but survived the assault, according to the indictment.

Robert Martinez, along with defendants Robert Amezcua and Mher Darbinyan, aka "Hollywood Mike," attempted to kill Cooper again, "stabbing him in the face and neck area" with a shiv, the indictment alleges. Another inmate in Theo Lacy had his throat slit and was "stomped" on July 29, 2020, at the behest of Johnny Martinez for "threatening to discuss the Mexican Mafia with law enforcement," the indictment alleges.

The attempts by Orange County District Attorney's Office prosecutors to make cases against Johnny Martinez and the others in the Robert Rios murder and attempted murder of Munoz have been beset with problems. After charging them, prosecutors went to a grand jury for an indictment in 2018, but it was thrown out for procedural errors in the presentation of evidence.

The defendants were charged again and were ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing. But Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue granted a motion preventing prosecutors from mentioning Johnny Martinez or the conspiracy to order the hit on Rios because the judge determined that a gang expert from the Orange County Sheriff's Department lied about his training as part of a wide-ranging evidence-booking scandal in the department. Later, Donahue threw out the murder case against Martinez for lack of evidence, and defense attorneys have been seeking similar motions in the Rios case.

With those cases faltering, the first indication that the U.S. Attorney's Office was stepping into the fray came on April 4, when county prosecutors moved to dismiss an attempted murder case against Robert Martinez -- knowing he was being named in the federal indictment.


The indictment alleges that the Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme, was comprised mostly of senior members of Latino street gangs who came together to control and profit from the activities of other Latino gangs operating in Southern California and within the California penal system. It is alleged that the Mexican Mafia members divided control of various areas in Southern California, with the member in control of a specific area controlling the criminal activities in that territory and receiving “taxes” paid by gangs to allow them to deal drugs in that area.

In addition to this widespread “tax” collection, it is alleged that the OC Mexican Mafia directly engaged in drug distribution in and out of prisons and jails. The indictment also alleges that the OC Mexican Mafia maintained authority over Latino street gangs through murder, attempted murder, and violent assaults with weapons including firearms.

“Cases targeting criminal enterprises like the Mexican Mafia require close collaboration with our local and federal partners and employ a variety of sophisticated techniques to overcome their evasive tactics,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The Mexican Mafia in Orange County controls the majority of local gangs and rules by threatening violence and exacting violence on their enemies or against their own members who don’t follow strict rules. This indictment is the latest in our continuing joint efforts to target gangs and drug networks that fuel the violence in our communities.”

The indictment alleges that in or around 2016, and continuing to at least in or around April 2022, defendants Johnny Martinez, Robert Aguirre, and Dennis Ortiz were the OC Mexican Mafia members in charge of criminal activities in Orange County and within Orange County jail and prison facilities. Defendants Omar Mejia, Miguel Jose Alvarado, Luis Heriberto Vasquez, Michael Cooper, and Abraham Guajardo held positions of shot-callers or mouthpieces for Martinez, Aguirre, and Ortiz. Defendant Robert Martinez held a position of authority within the Orange County Jail as Johnny Martinez’s representative. Defendant Brenda Vanessa Campos Martinez served as a secretary for Johnny Martinez, and defendant Danielle Canales served in a similar capacity for Johnny Martinez and Cooper. 

Violent crimes alleged against the OC Mexican Mafia include:

The Jan. 19, 2017, armed robbery and shooting death of R.R.;
The Aug. 21, 2017, shooting death of R.V., who was shot seven times in the back of the head and body, and left dead on the street in Orange;
The Aug. 5, 2017, attempted murder of defendant Munoz, who had fallen out of favor with the OC Mexican Mafia and was shot seven times;
The Dec. 1, 2017, attempted murder of D.D., a representative of a Latino street gang, who was allegedly abusing his power and authority within the OC Mexican Mafia enterprise;
The Dec. 12, 2017, attempted murder of E.O., an OC Mexican Mafia associate incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison, who was believed to have violated the OC Mexican Mafia’s code by warning individuals that they were targeted for violence by the OC Mexican Mafia, and who suffered multiple injuries, including puncture wounds to his torso;
The Dec. 25, 2017, attempted murder of R.M. for showing disrespect to defendant Johnny Martinez;
The July 29, 2020, attempted murder of F.B., a member of an Orange County Latino street gang incarcerated at the Theo Lacy Facility, who was targeted because he purportedly claimed that he would speak to law enforcement about the Mexican Mafia, and whose throat was slit; and
The two murder attempts on Jan. 5, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2019, of defendant Cooper, who had fallen out of favor with defendants Johnny Martinez and Aguirre, and who in one incident was stabbed multiple times in the head and back area, and in the second was cut in the throat and face.

“The Santa Ana Police Department is committed to working alongside local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that violent, career criminals are incarcerated and are brought to justice,” said Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin. “Today’s operation was a result of years of dedicated investigation into some of the most dangerous gang members that plague our communities.”

“Today’s arrests are the culmination of a multi-year investigation that IRS-CI is proud to be a part of”, said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner. “The subjects of this investigation engaged is some of the most horrific acts imaginable, and we are glad to have done our part to help end their corrupt influence over our community.”

Out of the 31 defendants charged in the indictment, 21 were already in custody, and nine were arrested last night and this morning. Those arrested today are expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana, and those already in custody will make initial appearances once each defendant is in federal custody.

The RICO statute provides for a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for acts performed as part of the criminal organization. The VICAR statute provides for a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for murder, a maximum sentence of 20 years for assault with a dangerous weapon, a maximum sentence of 10 years for attempted murder, and a maximum sentence of three years for attempted assault with a dangerous weapon. The charge of possessing, using, carrying, and discharging a firearm in furtherance of/during and in relation to a crime of violence carries a maximum sentence of life, with a mandatory sentence of at least five years and up to 10 years. 

The charge of causing death using a firearm carries a maximum sentence of life. Distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin carry a maximum sentence of life, and a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years and up to 10 years. Felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

38 comments:

  1. The big homie Crow. He just got made around 2014 after they got kicked outof the SHU. The Bulldogs jumped him at visit

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  2. Excellent 馃憤 catch more going to the slammer. Yeaaaaaaaaa!

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    1. 1:23 if they are not held INCOMMUNICADO, they are just going to college...
      So many lawyers getting their ass manhandled by a bunch of cheap ass criminals is as unbelievable as EMES going from prison to prison spreading their BS.

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  3. Mexicans are the strongest crime group in the US

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    1. Oh brother you TROLL again.

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    2. Mexican criminals at this point in time are just a bunch of shitty assholes, never on to the money, always bent on revenge for petty shit and tailing each other's women's lard ass tails when they are free.

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  4. Mexicans runs the West Coast..but I'm wonder about the East Coast 馃

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    1. Idiots are all over the world but I wonder if they're all over the world

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    2. Wow it's pretty amazing so like being on the West Coast I definitely feel like everything is run by Mexicans it's unbelievable like I don't know what is going on in the East Coast but if it's anything like the West Coast literally every damn number I call is making me dial two for Spanish oh no that's a mistake it's dial one for Spanish and the East Coast it's dialed too so I guess they're just not running the East Coast as much as the west but do you think they're running the North and South as well I don't know all I know is if I had a compass I would hit you in the freaking head with it you idiot

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    3. War on drugs supply and demand Mexicans cross it Mexican Americans Dispers it the blacks sell it and the whites buy it law enforcement catch it confiscate money everyone wins unless you over do it .

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    4. 9:15 dear Joey, put your phone on vibrator, stick it up your ass, and shut the fuck up while you trot like a Kangaroo..

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    5. Joey watch out for sir, he loves to massage nalgas for tacos.

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    6. Joey's nalgas are getting the softening before the deluge por being un pinche bato mam贸n

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    7. La EME They fuck each other in prison!!!

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    8. Can you tell them that in their face?

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    9. The cartels just move their merchandise across the border it's the gangs who distributes it they don't have crap on this side people should stop kissing their rear ends especially with those stupid songs.

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    10. 1:12 I can't, I am not in prison with them and plan not to be.

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  5. Orange county to Pelican bay for forty years in solitary!!!

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    1. 5:16 respect nuts face,
      don't make him cry...

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    2. Damn 40 years on a computer playing solitaire not only makes you think you got big balls but also makes you believe some crazy things

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  6. Damn, La EME allows white boys in the gang. White members of non-white gangs will rat you out faster than any other group. Ditch you like skid-marked toilet paper.

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    1. Look up Joe Pegleg Morgan, white cofounder of La EME or Tim Mcghee, Sureno gang leader who killed at least 12 rivals

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    2. @7:03 You're a fool if you don't think Pegleg Morgan passed EME secrets to the Aryan Brotherhood.

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    3. Laugh out loud James Brown sounds like he really has been deep in the white gangs or should I say really deep in the white community that doesn't join white gangs which is a interesting cuz basically the one thing they're definitely not going to do is snitch considering that they don't have any backup except of course if they're snitching on the blacks which would make sense since that's common sense obviously am I right am I right come on now let me do a little dance for you James Brown watch me moonwalk and tap dance my way to the CO we all know that's not natural that you have such insight on white people's inside the The slammer but I think you're just confused with that other side where they allow gays and such I wouldn't be surprised if they're snitching on each other to get their boyfriends jealous just so they can get it taken on them like I'm sure you're all about that while you screaming that one song called I don't even remember sorry not a James Brown fan I really apologize that r Kelly was probably already taken I'm sure you would have picked that first I Believe I can fly I believe I'm pretty fly for a White Guy but I'm so damn dark that they don't know I'm all around that they don't know cuz I'm not even making a sound yes I'm like a shadow you don't think I'm there but I'm there and watching you snitching like a assholes and you better believe if I really had any knowledge I would soar straight into the damn door or maybe just go right to all fours too bad they got to snitch on me though

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    4. You're a fool if you don't think you're a fool even if you feel good you're still a freaking fool I love that you're so fascinated by the Caucasian people because they really don't give a rat's ass about you

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    5. The Mongols pride and joy, former Governor of Montana Jesse Ventura is a white honky motherfacker and latino Mongols love his motherfucking ass, Me Too; He is also a professional big mouth,
      more of him to love

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    6. @ 9:16 I say bad things about white people because of all the dirt they did to my ancestors. I have not forgotten or forgiven.
      But actually I am in awe of the things that white people can accomplish. Swim with great white sharks. Climb skyscrapers without the use of ropes. Only white people have the balls to pull off that shit. I've always said that other races want to know God. The white man wants to BE God. The white man looks upon the gods as his peers and not someone to prostrate themselves before.
      Splitting an atom? That's some God-level shit right there.

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  7. Oh man it's crazy I remember Casper he's in the lineup this picture one complete to the left on the second row it's just ironic because it was his first stint locked up where he saw a ghost and his eyes have always been stuck that way ever since and the funny part is his name is Casper because the ghost showed him it's huge ghost penis and so it wasn't exactly a friendly Ghost but his eyes have still never went back to normal I'm just wondering and this is what I got my money on is bubba going to make that ghost seem like the Pillsbury doughboy I don't know either way I'm sure his anus better definitely not also get stuck open like his eyes did but you know he could be a good bargain chip for the whole gang of bloods

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  8. Man these guys really run it I mean seriously you think you're going to be able to get away with your cup of noodles without them getting their cut for those 3 minutes in the microwave shoot you better start learning how to soak that in some cold water overnight get used to that crunchy crunch crunch those guys are no joke I have seen straight up I mean talking about straight up bakery status up in their cells you would think Little Miss Muffin got robbed by them at ma these guys are some beasts when it comes to commentary you think you are going to be able to make some money on the down low by reselling on days far from the commissary dates no Surrey they're going to be taking your commissary and selling your butt. I know it's not fair but that's just the way it is so you better go and find Rico because after the mental suffering you're going to go through you're going to want to find Rico for why these guys are in there for so long obviously you're going to refuse to believe Rico is not a person but a law and that he's a snitch that's the only way all these guys could be together on the same card because a snitch pretty soon

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  9. I'm I suppose to be impressed 馃槀 what else is new ?

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  10. James Brown what's wrong with your homeboy big nutts truther always saying bullshit comments, apparently he is racist, this is the wrong site about mouthing off against people in Mexico, Mexico has 80% that hard working and the 20% that want the easy money being a criminal in cartels.Your homie needs to wash his balls.

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