Central American gangsters suspected in Santa Maria murders

March 4, 2016

703px-MS-13_tattoo_2

Authorities arrested 15 foreign nationals from Honduras and El Salvador early Thursday morning as part of a multi-state operation targeting suspects in the city of Santa Maria’s recent murder spree. All of the suspects who were arrested are members or associates of the multinational gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin said.

The immigration status of the suspects is not yet known. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently investigating the suspects’ backgrounds. Many of the suspects have two, three or four names.

Amid a string of gang violence, murders in Santa Maria increased from three in 2014 to 13 in 2015. Another six homicides occurred in the city in January.

Investigators believe MS-13 committed the majority of the murders, Martin said at a press conference Thursday.

The two known local street gangs in Santa Maria were behind one or two of the homicides, Martin said. Also, Santa Maria police arrested a 15-year-old girl in January for murdering her newborn infant.

Additionally, Santa Maria is the city where an illegal immigrant allegedly raped and murdered a 64-year-old woman last July.

On Thursday morning, SWAT teams from up and down the Central Coast served search warrants at a total of 11 locations. Eight of the searches occurred in Santa Maria, while two took place in Bakersfield and one warrant was served in Oxnard.

Additionally, FBI agents served a search warrant in Columbus, Ohio. Arrests occurred at all 11 of the California locations, as well as in Ohio.

In addition to making 15 arrests, officers detained 40 other suspects. Many of those 40 individuals were turned over to ICE, and some were released, Martin said.

The operation targeting Santa Maria murder suspects has been dubbed Operation Matador. Participating agencies included Santa Maria police, Oxnard police, Lompoc police, the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s and DA’s offices, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, ICE and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Suspects who were arrested are facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder with criminal street gang special allegations, actively participating in a criminal street gang and conspiracy to be an active participant in a criminal street gang. Authorities have not charged any of the suspects with murder, but that may happen soon, Martin said.

Over the last four weeks, at least six additional homicides were prevented during the investigation, Martin said.

MS-13 moved into Santa Maria about a year and a half or two years ago, Martin said. Most of the victims MS-13 targeted were other gang members.

“I think they were trying to own the town,” Martin said.

The Santa Maria chief vowed to eradicate M-13 from the city. An investigation into the case remains active, and more arrests could occur.

Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez

Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez

Last year, Santa Maria garnered national attention after Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, an illegal immigrant who had just been released from jail, broke into the home of 64-year-old Marilyn Pharis. Along with another man, Martinez Ramirez beat Pharis with a hammer and sexually assaulted her, according to Santa Maria police.

Pharis died eight days after the attack, and the resulting murder case became the subject of a United States Senate Judiciary Committee investigation. Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) questioned why Martinez Ramirez was not deported following prior arrests and convictions.

Likewise, Martin pinned the blame for Pharis’s death on state and federal lawmakers.

“I am not remiss to say that from Washington, D.C. to Sacramento there’s a blood trail into the bedroom of Marilyn Pharis,” Santa Maria’s chief stated following the murder.


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27 Comments

  1. itsnotok says:

    And so it goes. The willing accomplices in the City and County government attempting to put the Genie back in the bottle. This dis-function, with Criminal groups like this attempting to control communities through fear and intimidation because of the lawlessness of Government unwilling to secure our borders and the business communities desire for cheap labor. Combine that with the money being made by AG in Santa Maria $1.5 Billion in 2014 with $460 Billion by the Berry industry alone. Able Maldonado being a major player in all this because of his AG operations and he is MIA. Hey Able, what do you say about all this. Wow the crickets are chirping. Why won’t someone interview Mr Maldonado and get his take on all this. Ask him “the former “Lieutenant Governor of the state of California! Why won’t someone in the Media start doing some investigative journalism into how many people work illegally for the # 1 industry in Santa Maria? Wow what a story but no one will. Maybe some international television network will? You think?

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    In the recent past, El Salvadorians have had their differences. Down there when you are found dead and on the wrong side of revolution, your body gets hauled just out of town then pitched along side the road for the dogs to eat. Now think about that mindset moving into this country when their legal status becomes a topic for discussion. If it were my choice, the trial would be held in their country, another land where U.S. currency is their only legal tender. A big savings for our budget!

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  3. CentralcoastRN says:

    Listen guys, they are doing the jobs Americans just won’t do.

    People aren’t just going to rape and murder themselves now, will they?
    These drugs aren’t going to traffic themselves. Americans, you up for stashing Los drogas?
    How bout’ some anchor babies? Y’all wanna pump out about 5? That helps with a steady stream of “dream” income.

    Quit being racist about this. They are working HARD. Get in the shade and quit basking in all that white privilege. Wow.

    (-7) 11 Total Votes - 2 up - 9 down
    • kayaknut says:

      “Listen guys, they are doing the jobs Americans just won’t do”, it is more to the point that they are doing jobs Americans don’t need to do, the government has made it more lucrative to not work than work for some, so why go out and look for work, just stay home collect your assistance and the complain about illegals taking jobs.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  4. Rambunctious says:

    Language, borders, culture,

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
  5. Josey Wales says:

    Santa Maria City Officials made a conscious decision to pursue ‘Sanctuary City’ policies, and the consequences have been deadly for city residents. The Santa Maria City Council allowed the illegal alien population to take root in Santa Maria so the Big Ag farmers (campaign donors) could enjoy cheaper labor, and now the criminal street gangs have taken root.

    Now that they are receiving scrutiny, Santa Maria city officials attempt to deny that they turned the community into a “Sanctuary City’, but locals know exactly what is happening. After the vicious rape, torture, sodomizing, and murder of Mrs. Marilyn Pharis, a US military veteran, by a seven-time convicted illegal alien, Santa Maria denied that they refused to cooperate with ICE during the deportation hearing-but that is exactly what they did.

    The matter is getting some federal attention.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is asking the Department of Homeland Security for details on the Ramirez case and the agency’s interactions with local law enforcement agencies.
    “Clearly, there has been a total breakdown in cooperation between local and federal law enforcement that allowed this alleged killer to be released and, despite his lengthy and violent criminal record, never deported,” Grassley said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
    The senator quoted Police Chief Ralph Martin statement to reporters from last week:
    “I am not remiss to say that from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento, to the Santa Maria City Council, there’s a blood trail into the bedroom of Marilyn Pharis.” 
    Grassley added, “Clearly, sanctuary city policies are wreaking havoc on citizens, and especially on women.”

    Cleaning up the violent crime epidemic in Santa Maria will necessitate a new city council, a council who will not prioritize the farmer’s need for cheaper labor over the safety and security of its own citizens

    Recall Mayor Patino.

    (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down
  6. mkaney says:

    Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Martin is a clueless idiot. MS 13 wasn’t here to “dominate” the town. The old school Santa Maria gang bangers met them in prison and brought them to Santa Maria to clean things up. The gang culture there had degenerated from a proud neighborhood-based tight-lipped culture with rules (like no guns), to a culture of male prostitution, snitch or be snitched on, steal from your mother cess pool thanks to the way the corrupt police operated there for years. Once the place was cleaned up a bit, MS 13 would have been the exclusive provider of drugs to the local gangs.

    Ironically, this probably would have led to 20 more years of gang activity that was less visible to the general population, much less violence, and higher quality black market products.

    Insight is an amazing thing, and something you can gain only by showing respect and humility to people, not by out-thugging them.

    (-17) 23 Total Votes - 3 up - 20 down
    • SamLouis says:

      A “proud neighborhood-based tight-lipped culture” of murder, drug dealing and extortion?

      Are you being serious?

      (22) 22 Total Votes - 22 up - 0 down
      • mkaney says:

        I don’t recall murder being a huge problem in the past, or extortion. What do I care about drug dealing? There is no direct victim. I can’t stand drunks, do I have a fit that a store down the street sells liquor? Nope. The murder and extortion come as a result of people other people having a fit over what is essentially the same exact activity. Gangs have always existed, in every race. They grow up around black markets especially for protection and enforcement in a sector void of legal remedy.

        When we stepped up enforcement activity without our war on drugs, we created a self fulfilling prophecy. Here is the fulfillment of your prophecy.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  7. horse_soldier says:

    Santa Maria must get serious about crime. This is a good start.

    (23) 25 Total Votes - 24 up - 1 down
  8. 65buick says:

    Anyone know what the red symbol is on top of the hills? (Located inside the triangle center)

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • mkaney says:

      It is a Phrygian cap on top of a staff. It symbolizes liberty. The hills are volcanoes that represent the 5 original countries of the United Provinces of Central America.

      (-3) 5 Total Votes - 1 up - 4 down
      • SamLouis says:

        Are you sure? It looks like a labia cap to me. A cap symbolizing the wearer (or tattooee) to be a pussy for taking the easy and often murderous way out.

        The labia cap distinguishes murders, drug pushers and other sundry extortionists from real men. How appropriate.

        (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down

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