By Cheyenne Galloway
MODESTO, CA – Stanislaus County Superior Court last Thursday focused on an accused and his alleged involvement with the North Mauritania criminal street gang of Modesto—the case was ultimately continued to determine if the defense could provide the court with information to allow the accused to be released with electronic monitoring.
The nature of the case seems convoluted, involving whether or not the accused was a street gang member.
Deputy District Attorney Patrick Hogan outlined several instances that suggest the accused has possible involvement with gang and criminal activity, but defense lawyer Kelli Mendez said the accused cannot fully be characterized as a gang member based on where he lives and his friends.
The court started by delving into additional information obtained aimed to justify the GPS monitoring request, which prompted the defense to contact a private monitoring service because of Stanislaus County’s lack of GPS monitoring for pretrial monitoring.
According to the accused’s attorney, she could not obtain any information from this specific private monitoring company; nonetheless, she informed the court that the accused has a residence separate from the co-accused in this case.
Along with the different living arrangements, the accused has a job as a food packer and also wishes to take the necessary classes to pass the California real estate exam and receive his license.
DDA Hogan said, “So if that address is the same address where the incident took place, I have some concerns about that. Based on the markup on this case, there have apparently been multiple contacts with known Mauritanian gang members at that address on Inez Drive in Modesto.”
The DDA then outlined an incident that occurred in May 2021 when Modesto police investigated the house located on Inez Drive. During their search, they discovered countless documented Mauritanians; however, all except one of those individuals located by Modesto police are co-defendants, with the only other co-defendants being a man and a Jane Doe.
DDA Hogan admitted that there is a possibility that the two accused could have been living there or present during the search, but it is unclear who was in the house and who was not while the police investigation occurred.
Hogan added, “Other Mauritanian gang members were present during the search; officers located trash bags with ammunition and 40 caliber and nine-millimeter magazines, but admitted another Mauritanian gang member, Luis Hernandez, took ownership of the above-mentioned items and was eventually arrested for their possession and affiliation with the paraphernalia.
DDA Hogan said the accused has also on multiple occasions been known to associate with known members of the Mauritania criminal street gang outside of that residence, noting the events of Jan. 21, 2021.
The prosecutor said, on that date, the accused communicated with an individual called Isaiah de Los Rios during a traffic stop, noting, “I can represent to the court that I have personally convicted Mr. De Los Rios of a gang-related vandalism case. I know him to be on active gang probation at this time.”
During their investigation, Modesto police also conducted a phone search concerning the contents of the accused’s cellular device, outlined in a report by an investigator of the Modesto police department.
Based on the information provided by this search, multiple photographs depict the accused with other gang members, where they throw up gang hand signs to the camera.
In conjunction with these photos, Hogan argued Modesto officers are aware of the accused’s Instagram account handle, which spells out “Rich.dawg14.” Concurrently, his bio on Instagram reads, “WW$Modesto,” said the DDA.
Moreover, the accused allegedly has involvement with the Snapchat account, “DAWGDADON1414,” that DDA P. Hogan claimed is affiliated with the gang. He reached this conclusion, he told the court, because the number 14 is associated with the Mauritania criminal street gang.
In Martinez’s social media, added the prosecution, the accused also identifies with “West Side Modesto,” which DDA Hogan argued is associated with the Mauritania criminal street gang, particularly a specific subset within the North Mauritania street gang.
“The fact that the accused is openly displaying himself as a member of the North Mauritania criminal street gang based on his associations, as well as his social media accounts, strongly indicates his current membership in that particular criminal street gang regardless of whether he denies membership,” said Hogan.
“The fact that this residence has been associated with prior law enforcement activity is a deep concern of the People; the fact that ammunition was located at that (residence) with other active Mauritania criminal street gang members is also a concern,” said the prosecutor.
DDA Hogan introduced the accused’s contact with minors, understood to be members or associates of the Mauritania street gang. The attorney speculated the accused’s residence might be used as a focal point/meeting center for members of the gang, specifically minor gang members, that allows the gang to conduct criminal activity and socialize with each other.
Leading with “it seems like no one’s fault between the two of us,” DDA Hogan concluded his argument by noting DPD Mendez did not have the complete copy of the complaint, which lacked two pages that included details on count five, which charges a toddler was present in the residence with multiple narcotics around and active gang activity present.
The DDA believes it is appropriate for the accused to remain in custody as they await the trial.
DPD Mendez argued her client’s residence is separate from the one described in the case, and from any other co-accused, specifically the main co-accused and another female co-accused, who is located in Houston. The accused plans to stay in Modesto with his mother.
DPD Mendez contested information provided by DDA Hogan regarding the paraphernalia on the property located on Inez Dr. in Modesto, noting it was found in the male co-accused’s room, an area that he (co-accused) has exclusive control.
In addition to the accused’s lack of ownership over the confiscated evidence, DPD Mendez explained, her client “was not home when this initially, I guess, had occurred. He had arrived home, and then the search commenced ad-hoc shortly after he had arrived home.”
“So the co-defendant had been home for several hours by himself. It is unknown…what he was doing, when he was absent, but when he left the residence, things were not in the house the way it was found at that state,” the defense said.
DPD Mendez maintained conjecture is at play, arguing being in a car with someone allegedly affiliated with gang activity does not constitute the accused’s involvement with gang activity and membership, stating, “We need more than that here. We need some clear and convincing evidence at minimum to give that any credence.”
Judge Westbrook refused to release the accused pretrial on GPS monitoring because there are unresolved arraignments for the co-accused. Additionally, there are pending discoveries, including some video evidence provided by the federal government.