Gang Sweep Adds Detail to Murder Story

  • 07/11/2019
  • Terelle Jerricks

By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor with contribution by Melina Paris

June marked the one-year anniversary of Walter Crespo’s murder. The alleged perpetrator, Juan Martinez, was a Rancho San Pedro gang member who went by the name “Flaco” in the streets. He was arrested, but no one seemed to know exactly what happened to the murder weapon. However, the unsealing of the federal indictments of more than a dozen members of the Rancho San Pedro gang revealed new details on that murder.

Crespo was killed June 11, 2018, shot multiple times while standing outside in the east-west alley of West 5th Street. Sources close to Crespo say the shooting occurred after he had a confrontation with a neighbor, Carol Bodman, who was allegedly dealing drugs out of her apartment.

Two weeks after Crespo’s death, Bodman was arrested and charged with having knowledge of a crime after iniial reports on Crespo’s death.

Crespo’s mother, Cindy Hebert, revealed to Random Lengths that Crespo and Bodman lived in the same building and that Crespo confronted Bodman about her alleged drug dealing out of their building.

Hebert asserted that Bodman manipulated Martinez from the beginning to go after Crespo.  Crespo’s close friend, Eddie Baca, said Crespo had confronted Bodman about her alleged drug dealing from the building. Bodman persuaded Martinez to give Crespo a message to back off and even supplied a weapon, which was found to be registered to Bodman.

Martinez initially pleaded not guilty. He later pleaded guilty when he was arrested on a parole violation in September 2018.

The indictment that was unsealed on June 26, 2019, alleges that Martinez’s murder weapon was bought through a straw-sale along with an additional .32 revolver two days later. Those guns were purchased by a confidential informant to the police.

The two unsealed federal grand jury indictments charging 14 members and associates of the Rancho San Pedro street gang documented the operations of a drugs and firearms supply chain involving three businesses along Pacific Avenue including the Barton Hill Hotel, the Enigma Bar and Auggie’s Tavern (a bar formerly known as the Indian Room). The indictments resulted from a two-year joint LAPD and DEA investigation which predated Crespo’s murder by a year.

Four of the 13 defendants named in the main federal indictment were arrested June 26. Seven others were already in state custody, while three more are fugitives. Federal authorities say another 10 members and associates of the gang were arrested on local charges during the sweep,  which also seized 45 firearms.

The indictment links certain gang members to murders, attacks on rivals gangs and the disciplining of fellow gang members. The indictment reveals the ways the gang funneled money to three Mexican Mafia members who are currently serving prison time for murder.

Several of those indicted were also charged with substantive drug-trafficking offenses and three more were further charged with being felons in possession of firearms. If convicted as charged, all 13 defendants face potential life sentences in federal prison.

A second federal indictment charged one member with possessing ammunition after being convicted of a domestic violence offense, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

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