By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.
A green light seems like such a positive thing. Unless it is issued by a member of the Mexican Mafia. When a person is green lit by them, it means certain death. Still, greed is a funny thing. Why not a bit of drugs and cash? How will the imprisoned shot callers find out?
47-year-old Johnny “Crow” Martinez (photo above) has been serving 15 years to life since being convicted of racketeering in 2016. He became one of the Mexican Mafia’s top bosses after the death of longtime leader Peter Ojeda in 2018.
The Tax Collector
The Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme, was founded behind bars in the 1950s and eventually managed to exert its influence far outside prison walls. It collects “taxes” from various California street gangs and manages drug trafficking and other criminal activities from inside the prison system.
It is able to do so because one very simple reality: Every criminal will find himself locked up at one time or another in his career. When he finds himself in a cell, he will have to face the Mexican Mafia. At that point he is judged by his actions on the streets. Did he pay his tax? If not, there will be hell to pay.
That is why La Eme rules the streets and why a shot caller like Martinez is able to direct men on the outside to commit murder on his behalf. This strikes fears in the hearts of many hardened gangsters, but, again, greed is a funny thing.
Thief is green lit
A member of a Costa Mesa street gang trafficked drugs and collected “taxes” from gangs in Orange County for Martinez. An important task not to be taken lightly. Certainly not one where you would try to stiff your boss. Yet that is exactly what the gangster did. Twice. Stealing money and drugs.
Sitting in his cell, Martinez found out. La Eme has ears and eyes everywhere.
On August 21, 2017, 40-year-old Mike “Risky” Escobar, a member of the Little Hood gang in Anaheim; 44-year-old James “Buck” Mendez, a Sureño gang member from Garden Grove; and 36-year-old Kevin “Minor” Trejo, a member of the Jeffrey Street gang in Anaheim, decided to take the thieving gangster for a ride.
Just before midnight they arrived at his home and drove in Anaheim to a residential neighborhood in Orange. There they shot him seven times in the back and once in the head.
Escobar, Mendez, and Trejo were found guilty by a federal jury on October 13, 2023, of acting on orders from Martinez, who issued the order to kill the gangster because he on two occasions stole drugs and money controlled by Martinez, the jury found.
Each man faces a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison.
Martinez is a co-defendant in this case and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He is scheduled to go to trial on June 25, 2024. He was also charged with ordering the January 2017 killing of Robert Rios because he refused to pay the Mexican Mafia drugs and money he owed. Armed gangsters paid him a visit at his home and shot him dead when he refused to pay.
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