Central American gangsters suspected in Santa Maria murders

March 4, 2016


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.


I think it’s time to erect some old time pillories and gallows on the lawn of SM’s City Hall. Treat these people like the terrorists they are.

If an illegal alien from Honduras or El Salvador has tattoos like the one shown above and if there’s proof that they’re involved in criminal activity then expedite their trials (as they publicly rot in the pillories) and then just hang them. Hang them all.

I don’t think it would take too many sessions of these pillories/hangings for members of m-13 to leave the Central Coast.


How long before o’bozo orders them released? I really wish I was kidding but I’m not.

Josey Wales

Santa Maria city officials have embraced ‘Sanctuary City’ policies as a nod to the wealthy farmers who pad their re-election accounts, and now their city has a poor national reputation. Corruption is rampant at city hall, and Mayor Alice Patino denounced and voted against having ICE set up a holding facility in the town.

Taxpayers in santa Maria have been fleeced and real estate values in Santa Maria have dropped as families avoid that violent and dangerous town.

They should recall Mayor Alice Patino.


Build the wall and let the border patrol, immigration agents and all the other cops DO THEIR JOBS..

Local cops are afraid of getting a personnel complaint because all the “touchy feely-discovering my emotions” types who head our local law enforcement use the business model of the customer always being right. Even dhen the customer is a gang member.

For us citizens, we need to give the cops the benefit of the doubt the next time we see one using force to subdue someone.

If we don’t then we all better make friends with the crooks.


All kidding aside, what would it take to largely rid SM/Guadalupe of gangs? It’s still a geographically isolated place. Crime isn’t spilling over from Nipomo, Orcutt, Garey or the Pacific Ocean.

It seems to me that it’s going to take five things. First, SMART policing. Second, a populous that is willing to endure aggressive policing (applying the broken window theory and the use of COMPSTAT or similar, etc.) Third, the gathering and use of solid anti-gang intelligence. Fourth, assistance from the Federal Government in dealing with trouble-making illegals) and fifth, the bucks to pay for all of this.

Is SM’s Chief of Police any good? What’s the SB County Sheriff’s Office presence like around SM? What’s law enforcement like in Guadalupe?

Maybe to save itself, SLO’s County line needs to be moved to include SM?


A wall would be nice, but we’d have to dig down about 50 feet to make it harder to tunnel under. God only knows how crazy the cartels are with tunneling, the one for El Chapo was what, over a mile long? Not to mention the periodic tunnel we find into houses here that are used for smuggling whatever in and out.


Good idea. Dig 50 feet down and use more detection technology to monitor what’s going on underground.


We need the wall.


And a working prison system, including execution.


We need a wall, a moat, and a minefield!!


It would take someone with really “yuge” hands to build a wall like that

Rich in MB

a Huge What…ha ha ha


What a racist article.

These are just poor hardworking refugees looking for a better life for their families.

How’s that open border policy working out?

Rich in MB

Ya…but I want my cheap veggies!

Folks if you support the open border policy, then you support these monsters being here?

Wait a second….was el Trumpo right?

Are murderers coming to the USA from Mexico….well I’ll be darned….