Earlier this month, a U.S. district court judge sentenced Mexican Mafia member Jose "Bat" Marquez to life in prison. He was convicted after a four-day trial for trafficking methamphetamine from a prison cell.

Most law enforcement officials would consider this a success; however, it was too little, too late for those of us familiar with his criminal past. As an enforcer for the Mexican Mafia prison gang and violent Arellano-Felix Cartel, Marquez should have been prosecuted for numerous murders and conspiracies to murder. A proper sentence would have been death.

Jose Marquez was born on the U.S. side of the border. Marquez grew up in the barrios of San Diego, joining the Del Sol street gang in his early teens. He had numerous brushes with the law and by 19 he had been arrested for grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. When he was 20, he was convicted for drug sales and sentenced to seven years as a drug-addicted felon. He was released after less than two years. Three months later, he was arrested again for burglary. This time he was sentenced to six years in state prison.

In prison, the Sureño loyal to the Mexican Mafia prison gang was moved to San Quentin after assaulting a Norteño inmate with a shovel. He was arrested twice that year in San Quentin prison on weapon possession charges.

In June of 1987, Jose Marquez was again paroled and in 1988 he teamed up with "Roy Boy" Rivas, another San Diego gang member. The two attempted to kill Reggie Magana. In January of 1989, Marquez and Rivas teamed up to stab a drunken party crasher at Marquez's house on Market Street. Later, the Marquez-Rivas hit team murdered a man in a Tijuana junkyard, shooting the victim with .380 and 9mm rounds.

In September of 1989, Marquez was convicted and sentenced to a five-year sentence for methamphetamine sales. Prison did not hamper Marquez's propensity for murder.

In March of 1991, acting on Bat Marquez's orders, Roy Boy Rivas and Ken "Boogaloo" Flores murdered Christopher Garcia in San Diego. For this murder, Roy Boy Rivas was rewarded with membership in the Mexican Mafia sponsored by Bat Marquez, "Black Dan" Barella, and Mario "Gato" Marquez at Donovan State Prison in October of 1991.

In November, Roy Boy Rivas and Bat Marquez are transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison—the most secure prison in California. Most of the Mexican Mafia are housed here in the prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU).

When Rivas is paroled in April of 1992, he's contacted by fellow San Diego gang member David "Popeye" Barron, who was a methamphetamine cook with ephedrine connections in Mexico. Barron gives Rivas $5,000 and a sack of meth to sell.

Later in 1992, Rivas and Marquez would sponsor fellow San Diego gang member David "Popeye" Barron into the Mexican Mafia.

In 1994, Marquez is again paroled and Rivas is arrested and returned to R.J. Donovan State Prison for a short stay.

On June 25, 1994 (a Saturday), Bat attended a meeting with about a dozen of his Mexican Mafia carnals (brothers) at the Days Inn Motel in Monterey Park just east of Los Angeles. Little did they know that the Los Angeles Metropolitan Violent Gang Task Force led by the FBI and my surveillance team with the Los Angeles County Sheriff were covertly and electronically monitoring this meeting with video and audio.

Beside the extortion of Edward James Olmos for his insults to the Eme in the film "American Me" (1992), Mexican Mafia members discussed the alliance with the Arellano-Felix Cartel and the proposed contract on "Chapo" Guzman, the leader of the rival Sinaloa Cartel.

Bat soon returned to prison in December of 1994, after he was arrested for auto theft and gun possession with Steve Ochoa in San Ysidro, Calif., just south of San Diego.[PAGEBREAK]

In January of 1995, Roy Boy Rivas returned to Pelican Bay. Bat's old crime partner and Mexican Mafia brother, Roy Boy, would eventually fall out of grace with his Eme carnals and find himself on the "green light" hit list.

In April of 1995, Bat Marquez received a 32-month sentence for possessing a firearm as a felon. One year later, Bat Marquez and Ruben "Droopy" Davis conspired to murder fellow mafia members Roy Boy Rivas and Donald "Little Man" Ortiz in prison. Rivas and Droopy Davis both dropped out of the Mexican Mafia and debriefed at Pelican Bay before Roy Boy and Little Man could be killed.

In June of 1997, Bat Marquez was again paroled. A surveillance team was assembled to follow Marquez after his release from prison. The team followed him and his vehicle into the San Diego area and then watched him run across the border into Tijuana! Bat Marquez joined Popeye Barron in Mexico. The two acted as enforcers for the Tijuana Cartel and provided security for the Arellano-Felix family.

In November of 1997, Bat Marquez was part of a hit team that murdered two Mexican police officers in front of the Tijuana courthouse. In an article in the Zeta newspaper, the courageous editor Jesus Blancornelas named Barron and Marquez as the shooters. As a result, Blancornelas was ambushed in his vehicle by Popeye Barron's hit team on Nov. 27, 1997. Blancornelas was badly wounded. His bodyguard was killed. A ricocheting round struck Popeye Barron in the head, killing him.

Although Bat Marquez continued to work for the Arellano-Felix Cartel, he was not considered as valuable an asset as Barron. Bat was a heavy methamphetamine user, and he was a wanted man on both sides of the border. Bat did not enjoy the loyalty of the Arellano-Felix family, and Bat's continued use of speed and alcohol made him reckless and unreliable.

On the U.S. side of the border, Chris Blatchford—a Los Angeles Channel 11 Fox news investigative reporter, had done several news stories about the Mexican Mafia, Popeye, and Bat. These stories exposed the RICO trial videos of Mexican Mafia members, who were recorded at meetings voicing plans to take over the Arellano-Felix cartel.

The Mexican Mafia sent gang member Richard "Cheeks" Buchanan to join Bat's crew in Tijuana in early 1998. Some of the gang members on Bat's crew in Mexico included Enrique "Taz" Loaiza, Alex "Clyde" Gomez, Emiliano "Milo" Villa Rodriguez, Hector "Lonely" Lara, Jose "Night Owl" Felix Pardo, Jorge "Crow" Orozco, Isaias "Sleepy" Rivas, Robert Sandoval, and Elizabeth "Osita" (little bear) Rojas.

Actually several San Diego crews operated on both sides of the border at this time. Teams led by Mexican Mafia members Barron, Robert "Tawa" Romero, Frank "Chino" Madriaga, and Salvador "Sal" Colabella all acted as enforcers for the Arellano-Felix family and the Tijuana Cartel.

In June of 1998, "Bulldog" from Chino Madriaga's crew helped move Bat out of the Arellano's Tijuana safe house to another house in La Gloria District. In August, Bat was arrested in Puerto Nuevo for the theft of a flower pot and jailed. The following November, Mexican authorities indicted Bat for murder and attempted murder.

A year later, Bat Marquez is out of custody and a suspect in the murder of Abel "Sonny" Chavez and his girlfriend in Tecate, Mexico. By this time, Marquez is no longer working directly with the Arellano-Felix brothers. He's now working for a lesser member of the cartel, Gustavo Rivera.

In October of 1999, Bat holds a meeting in the Logan Heights gang area of San Diego, even though he's a wanted fugitive listed on the BOLO board of every cop in San Diego. He continues to cross the border unmolested.

In March of 2000, a San Diego detective obtains Bat's telephone numbers from Elizabeth "Osita" Rojas. These numbers would prove to be invaluable in the investigation and helped to track him and bring Bat to justice.

In May of 2002, U.S. authorities indict Bat Marquez and his boss, Gustavo Rivera. Mexican authorities arrest Marquez in November of 2003.

After several years in custody in Mexico and much diplomatic haggling between Mexican and U.S. justice officials, Marquez was extradited from Mexico into the custody of the U.S. Marshals in January of 2007.

Following his life sentence, Marquez was imprisoned in ADX Florence Colorado—the most secure federal prison in the U.S. His confinement in the SHU with his Mexican Mafia brothers ensures that Bat Marquez will continue to be involved with drug running and murder. Only death can stop the Bat's blood lust.


Richard Valdemar
Richard Valdemar

Sergeant (Ret.)

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

View Bio