Four years ago, the relatively unknown Malos Hechos motorcycle gang made headlines when its members brutally beat two men outside a central Fresno nightclub -- a crime that was captured on video and widely played on social media.
On Tuesday, Christopher Martinez Sr., the president of Malos Hechos, was sentenced in U.S. District Court iin Fresno to 97 months, or eight years, in federal prison on a felony drug charge, putting an end to a gang that police say was small in size, but extremely violent.
Martinez, 47, was one of four high-ranking members of Malos Hechos who were arrested in July 2016 during a multi-agency gang sweep in Fresno. The others arrested in the sweep were his son, Christopher Martinez Jr.; Randy Seja and Felix Gago.
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At a news conference back then, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer credited the success of the operation to his department working closely with the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.
On Wednesday, Dyer said Malos Hechos was “extremely violent and well organized.” Because the gang had few members, it allowed police “to eliminate them quickly,” he said.
“Had we not dismantled Malos Hechos when we did, I am confident they would have rapidly increased in size and become much more dangerous,” Dyer said.
The dismantling of Malos Hechos, Dyer said, proves once again that the police strategy of going after gang leaders is the right course.
Just three months ago, Dyer declared the notorious Dog Pound Gangster street gang in Fresno dismantled after the last of its ringleaders pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with others to kill a rival. Deandre Stanfield is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9. Prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence of 10 years.
“We have experienced a 28 percent reduction in gang shootings this year,” the chief said, but noting “there is still far too much gang violence in our city.”
Federal court documents say Martinez is known as Shark; his son is called Luda; Seja is knows as Scarface; and Gago is known as Krayon. Their clubhouse in southeast Fresno was on Maple Avenue north of Tulare Avenue and near Burroughs Elementary School.
Their arrests were the result of police surveillance and wiretaps. According to an affidavit by ATF special agent Sherri Reynolds, Malos Hechos was formed in November 2013 as an offshoot or subset of the Eastside Bulldogs street gang, becoming the first “Fresno Bulldog Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG).“
Before its creation, Martinez, his son and other founders met with “high-ranking members of the Hells Angels Fresno Chapter to discuss the creation of the OMG,” Reynolds’ affidavit says.
During the meeting, it was decided that Malos Hechos members would wear a three-piece patch that utilized the same colors as the Hells Angels, the affidavit says. Malos Hechos would pay the Hell Angels a “tax” for each vest used.
In addition, the affidavit says, Malos Hechos attempted to model itself after the Hells Angels by selling T-shirts that said: “Either You’re With Us or Against Us” and “Support Your Local Malos Hechos.”
Fresno police first came into contact with Malos Hechos in March 2014, when they responded to an assault outside the Crossroads nightclub at Shields and Cedar avenues. At the time, Dyer said, police knew that the motorcycle gang was actively trying to recruit members, mostly from existing Bulldogs members.
Court records say Martinez has a lengthy criminal record, but had been staying out of trouble until the altercation at Crossroads. For his role, Martinez pleaded no contest to assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm. In November 2014, he was sentenced to a year in jail.
Christopher Martinez Jr. also was involved in the altercation. He received six months in jail after pleading no contest to assault and possession of methamphetamine.
Before their arrests on federal drug charges, Reynolds’ affidavit says, investigators were talking to sources and reviewing the defendants’ social media posts. A Facebook post by the elder Martinez included mug shots of the defendants after the Crossroads altercation “to improve their status as an OMG,” the affidavit says.
In another Facebook post, someone implied that Malos Hechos was imitating the Sons of Anarchy, a television show about a violent motorcycle gang. “SOA is fake,” the elder Martinez said in response to the Facebook post. “We’re Real hahahahaha!!!”
The affidavit says the wiretaps captured Martinez, his son, Gago, Seja and others discussing narcotics transactions in 2016.
And while the gang was under surveillance, one of its members, Daniel Martin Telles, left the clubhouse in February 2016 brandishing a gun, the affidavit says. “As police officers approached Telles, he fired multiple shots at the officers,” the affidavit says. Telles was arrested; in April 2016, he was found hanging inside his cell in the Fresno County Jail.
Martinez’s plea agreement says he admitted that from February 2016 to July 2016 he conspired with his son, Seja and Gago to possess methamphetamine with the intent distribute it.
Gago and Seja obtained the methamphetamine and Martinez and his son distributed it, the plea agreement says. In total, Martinez admitted to conspiring to distributing 2 pounds and 11 ounces of methamphetamine.
Court records say federal probation officials wanted the elder Martinez to serve a prison term of up to 135 months, or 11 years and three months, But Fresno defense lawyer Salvatore Sciandra said the plea agreement called for 97 months in prison.
Sciandra said in court papers Martinez didn’t have a good childhood: he was exposed to drug trafficking and drug abuse since birth. In addition, Martinez’s father left the family to serve 17 years in prison and his mother abandoned her son “in favor of a male companion,” Sciandra said. In spite of this, Martinez still took care of his mother and father “in their old age,” Sciandra said.
Seja also has pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 24.
In November Gago was sentenced to 116 months, or nearly 10 years, in prison after pleading no contest to a drug charge. Christopher Martinez Jr. is awaiting his trial on a drug charge that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.