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Press Release

Three Gang Members Convicted of Racketeering Murder

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal jury in Santa Ana, California, convicted three Orange County men today of murder in aid of racketeering as part of their association with the Mexican Mafia, a prison gang.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on Aug. 21, 2017, Mike Escobar, aka Risky, 40, a member of the Little Hood gang in Anaheim; James Mendez, aka Buck, 44, a Sureño gang member from Garden Grove; and Kevin Trejo, aka Minor, 36, a member of the Jeffrey Street gang in Anaheim, murdered their victim in Orange, California. Escobar, Mendez, and Trejo tricked the victim into driving with them from the victim’s home in Anaheim to a residential neighborhood near Orange, where they shot him seven times in the back and once in the head. Escobar, Mendez, and Trejo were acting on orders from co-defendant Johnny Martinez, aka Crow, 47, a member of the Mexican Mafia. Martinez issued the order to kill the victim because he stole drugs and money controlled by Martinez on two occasions.

The jury convicted Escobar, Mendez, and Trejo of murder in aid of racketeering. They are scheduled to be sentenced on March 25, 2024, and each face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney E. Martin Estrada for the Central District of California, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Assistant Director in Charge Donald Alway of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI Los Angeles Field Office, Orange County Resident Agency; Orange Police Department; Santa Ana Police Department; Anaheim Police Department; Fullerton Police Department; Placentia Police Department; Orange County Sheriff’s Department; Orange County Probation Department; Orange County District Attorney’s Office; and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Grace Bowen and Christopher Matthews of the Criminal Division’s Violent Crime and Racketeering Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg Staples and Gregory Scally for the Central District of California are prosecuting the case.

Updated October 16, 2023

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-1137