SAN DIEGO – On March 26, 2019, Jimmy Josue Martinez, 33, of Tijuana, Mexico, a leader of the Hooligans motorcycle gang, pleaded guilty 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.
“Thank you to state, local and federal investigators who worked this case day and night to bring these criminals to justice,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Vehicle owners work hard to purchase their vehicles, and often struggle to make monthly payments, and to think that these criminals were helping themselves in the middle of the night, is extremely frustrating.”
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, typically in the middle of the night while unsuspecting owners were asleep. 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 numerous areas of San Diego County. 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.
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 is scheduled for sentencing on June 24, 2019 and faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. Of the nine Hooligans charged, six have pleaded guilty and three remain fugitives.
Agencies that investigated this case include:
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