VISALIA, Calif., April 10 (UPI) -- A man who has said he killed dozens of people during a 30-year career as an enforcer for Mexican drug lords has been charged with nine murders in California.
Jose Manuel Martinez, 51, is being held in Alabama, where he has been charged with a single killing. He was arrested last year as he crossed the border between Arizona and Mexico.
Prosecutors in California announced Tuesday that Martinez was being charged with killing nine men there between 1980 and 2011. During part of that time, he lived in Richgrove, a small town in Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley.
Christal Derington, a former Tulare County Sheriff's Detective, said that Martinez was "pleasant and cooperative" when she talked to him in Alabama after his arrest. She said she had an earlier encounter with him in 2012 when she questioned him about home invasion robberies.
In most of the California killings, the bodies were found in fields or on the sides of roads, investigators said. One man was allegedly gunned down in his bed while his children were in the house in Pixley, another small Tulare County town.
Martinez has allegedly admitted killing more than 30 people, telling investigators he was a debt collector for the drug cartels working on a 25 percent commission.
“It’s how he fed his family, is how he explained it,” T.J. Watts, a sheriff's detective in Marion County in Alabama, told CNN last year.
[Los Angeles Times]