A motorcycle gang leader who led others to steal Jeep Wranglers in a high-tech way in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and elsewhere has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.
Jimmy Josue Martinez, 33, who was also known as “Motas,” was transferred to a federal prison in Victorville as of July 1 after being sentenced June 24 in U.S. District Court in San Diego.
Judge John Houston ordered him to pay $246,396 in restitution to four insurance companies that was listed as victims of approximately 150 stolen Jeep Wranglers in San Diego County. The cars were taken to Mexico to be sold or stripped for parts.
Martinez was a member of the Hooligan motorcycle gang that was based in Tijuana and he led a theft crew that would employ scouts to target a specific Jeep. His crew would get the vehicle identification number from the dashboard or elsewhere and make a duplicate transponder key, according to court records.
The theft crew would surreptitiously obtain computer codes from the Chrysler’s database and they would later return to the Jeep and take it. The thieves would disable the car alarms and steal the car with a duplicate key, often in the middle of the night.
Martinez pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit transportation of stolen vehicles in foreign commerce. At the time of his guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said “the joy ride is over for Mr. Martinez.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Galvin urged the 37-month term, while Martinez’s attorney, Julie Blair, recommended 24 months. He could have received a maximum five-year term in prison.
There were nine other Hooligan gang members charged with Martinez, and most have been sentenced. The most recent sentencing was Sebastian Ponce who got 15 months after pleading guilty to stealing a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. Ponce was ordered to pay $18,553 in restitution, according to court records.
The restitution order for Martinez specifies he pay $91,157 to Geico Insurance, $71,347 to USAA, $50,630 to Progressive, and $33,262 to Allstate.
Approximately 50 percent of money placed on Martinez’s books in prison will be diverted to the insurance companies, according to his sentencing documents. He will also be subject to paying the insurance companies back even after he is released from prison. He will be banned from associating with other Hooligan members even after his release.
“This case is a reminder that our proximity to the international border provides increased opportunity for transnational organized crime,” said Suzanne Turner, the FBI Acting Special Agent in charge.
“The Hooligans crime group took advantage of this proximity by stealing millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles from San Deigns in order to hide, chop, sell, and profit from those vehicles in Mexico,” said Turner.
As an example of the value of the cars taken, an excerpt from the indictment lists two 2007 Jeep Wranglers worth $22,225 and $21,709, which were stolen in Pacific Beach in January, and September 2014. A 2008 Wrangler worth $33,685 was stolen in Ocean Beach in June 2014, the indictment says.
Court records listed Mario “Cifre” Echeverria-Ibarra, Adan Esteban Sanchez Aguirre, and Narcisco Zamora Banuelos as fugitives after warrants for their arrests were issued on May 24, 2017.