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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Leader of Hooligans Motorcycle Gang Admits Stealing Jeeps throughout San Diego County

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew J. Galvin (619) 546-9721 and Joseph S. Green (619) 546-6955

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 26, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Jimmy Josue Martinez, a leader of the Hooligans motorcycle gang, pleaded guilty today and admitted to participating in a sophisticated scheme to steal dozens of Jeep Wranglers in San Diego County using handheld electronic devices and stolen codes. 

According to court records, the Hooligans are responsible for the theft of more than 150 Jeep Wranglers worth approximately $4.5 million within San Diego County since 2014. The Hooligans used high-tech methods to disable security systems and steal Jeeps in just a few minutes, in the middle of the night, while unsuspecting owners slept nearby. After stealing the Jeeps in San Diego County, the Hooligans transported them to Tijuana, Mexico, where the vehicles were sold or stripped for parts. 

In his plea agreement, Martinez admitted to stealing Jeeps in Pacific Beach, Serra Mesa, Chula Vista, Mission Valley, Ocean Beach, Hillcrest and North Park. Martinez also admitted to leading one of the Hooligans theft crews, which would target a specific Jeep days before the actual theft would take place. Martinez and members of his theft crew obtained the vehicle identification number in advance and then managed to get secret key codes, which allowed them to create a duplicate key for that particular Jeep. Then, during the theft, they disabled the alarm system, programmed the duplicate key using a handheld electronic device, and quietly drove away without notice.

In November 2014, San Diego Police Department patrol units attempted to stop Martinez after he participated in the theft of a Jeep in Mira Mesa. Martinez failed to pull over and drove south along Interstate 805 at speeds exceeding 120 miles per hour. Customs and Border Patrol officers unsuccessfully attempted to stop Martinez at the United States/Mexico border.  In his plea agreement, Martinez admitted to ramming a vehicle stopped in front of him multiple times in order to maneuver around concrete barriers and drive south into Mexico.

“The joy ride is over for Mr. Martinez,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “These thefts were audacious and sophisticated and created hassle and heartache for scores of Jeep owners. I congratulate prosecutors Andrew Galvin and Joseph S. Green, the FBI and members of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force for putting together a strong case against a gang that, unfortunately, has lived up to its name.”

“This case is a reminder that our proximity to the international border provides increased opportunity for transnational organized crime,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner.  “The Hooligans crime group took advantage of this proximity by stealing millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles from San Diegans in order to hide, chop, sell, and profit from those vehicles in Mexico. The FBI worked day and night, alongside our partners at the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT), to bring Martinez, the leader of this transnational organization, to justice.”

Martinez and eight other members of the Hooligans were charged in a grand jury indictment in May 2017.  As part of his plea, Martinez agreed to pay at least $246,396 in restitution. Martinez will appear for sentencing on June 24, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge John A. Houston. Of the nine Hooligans charged, six have pleaded guilty and three remain fugitives.

DEFENDANT:                                             Case Number 17-CR-1314-JAH

Jimmy Josue Martinez                                    Age:    33                                Tijuana, Mexico

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Commit Transportation of Stolen Vehicles in Foreign Commerce – Title, 18 U.S.C., Section 371

Maximum penalty: 5 years’ imprisonment; $250,000 fine; restitution.

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which includes the following agencies:
U.S. Border Patrol
California Highway Patrol
National Insurance Crime Bureau
California Department of Insurance
California Department of Motor Vehicles
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
San Diego County Probation Department
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations
and police departments from La Mesa, Chula Vista, National City, Oceanside and San Diego

Press Release Number: 
CAS19-0326-Martinez
Updated March 26, 2019