Self-Professed Cartel Hitman Charged With 9 Murders In California
A man suspected of being a Mexican cartel hitman has been charged with nine murders in California.Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they believe 51-year-old Jose Manuel Martinez killed eight men in Central Valley (in Tulare County and Kern County) and one in San Bernardino County over 30 years throughout the U.S., according to the L.A. Times. The victims, between the ages of 22 and 56, were found stabbed and some riddled with bullets between 1980 to 2011. Ranchers often found the bodies on the side of the road or in orange groves. Authorities accused Martinez of killing his victims in front of their family members, including his children.
Martinez, who told prosecutors he was a "debt collector" for a Mexican drug cartel, said he murdered more than 30 people, according to The Bakersfield Californian. The Times reported Martinez said he had been killing since he was 16 and would take 25 percent of the debts he collected.
"I'm the guy that pays you a visit if you don't pay," he told investigators, reported CNN.
He's already in custody in Alabama for another murder charge stemming from an "execution-style" killing to punish a man who "disrespected" Martinez's daughter, Tim McWhorter, captain of the investigation division at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office told Reuters. While all his other alleged murders were part of his enforcer job for the cartel, this one was considered personal. Authorities had arrested Martinez at an Arizona border in 2013 when they did a records check on him and found he was wanted for a murder in Alabama.
However, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward told The Bakersfield Californian that authorities want to extradite Martinez to California. The suspected contract killer could face the death penalty in this case because Tulare County also charged him with attempted murder, kidnapping and murder for financial gain, Reuters reported.
He's also being linked to a double murder in Ocala, Florida where his DNA matched a cigarette butt found in the victim's car.
"Killing people doesn't seem to affect him," Lawrence County, Alabama Sheriff's Capt. Tim McWhorder told CNN.