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Dealing With the Devil

Brandy DuVall went through hell before she died. She left no angels as witnesses.

The Crenshaw Mafia Gangster Bloods had started out as a black gang near 104th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles. They'd shown up in Denver in the mid-Eighties, and their power had been growing ever since. The CMG Bloods split Denver by race and territory. CMG on the east side of town was predominantly black and claimed the Park Hill area down to Aurora and into Montbello; they'd turned some neighborhoods into battle zones in their perpetual fight with the Crips, the first of the two big California gangs to bring their guns and crack-cocaine trade to Denver.

CMG on the west side had come along later. It was mostly Latino, although by 1997 the gang had white, Asian and black members. Generally, they claimed anything west of downtown to Lakewood and south into Bear Valley.

The police believed that both CMG gangs cooperated in their various criminal activities. (By comparison, black and Latino Crips gangs in Denver rarely shared anything other than a name and an affinity for the color blue. In fact, they were often violent rivals.)

The Metro Area Gang Task Force had been after the Martinez brothers for some time without much luck. Witnesses to assaults tended to take off or recant; the few charges that stuck had been dismissed by the courts. Antonio had a non-fatal shooting on his juvenile record, and the brothers were both popped on a marijuana charge that hadn't come to much. Otherwise, nada.

Now, however, their run seemed to be coming to an end. Danny had an arrest warrant out for failing to participate in a court-ordered drug-and-alcohol rehab program. And, Romero said, his unit was working with a Lakewood Police Department detective, Scott Richardson, who'd been trying for a year to pin the July 1996 murder of a young woman on Samuel Quintana and two other Deuce-Seven members, Alejandro "Speed" Ornelas and his brother, Gerard.

The Denver police had had better luck busting up the Park Hill CMG. In November 1996, a Denver grand jury had indicted ten members for running an "illicit enterprise" that included murder, drug trafficking and other violent acts. Five of the ten were charged with the murder of Eric Thomas, a Crip who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in October 1993. Those indictments marked the first time that the Denver District Attorney's Office had used the state's racketeering law--known as the Colorado Organized Crime Act--to go after a street gang.

In May 1997, seven CMG members accepted plea bargains that included dropping the murder charge in connection with Thomas's killing. Denver authorities hailed the convictions as the destruction of the Park Hill CMG.

And now, if the Jeffco investigators' suspicions about who'd killed Brandy DuVall were correct, CMG on the west side was self-destructing. Her death didn't even have the twisted logic of a gangland hit. It wasn't "business"; it was pure brutality. Her body was dumped where it was likely to be discovered; there were plenty of witnesses. Brandy's murderers were practically asking for a date with a lethal injection, compliments of the state.

Jose Martinez was told there'd be no charges if he cooperated and testified. When he hesitated, saying he'd be killed by the gang, Jeffco investigators promised to put him in an out-of-state witness-protection program.

Jose agreed. On June 14, 1997, as the police listened in, he placed a telephone call to Sammy Quintana. "Uncle Joe," as he was known to the gang members, began the conversation by asking Sammy why he thought the police had come to his house.

"What are you talkin' about?" Quintana asked.
"You know what I'm talkin' about," Martinez replied.
"Hey, I know what the fuck you're talkin' about," Quintana growled, "but what are you talkin' about?...They over at your house or what?"

"You know why they're here...I told you to leave that girl alone."
"Hey," Quintana warned, "don't start speakin' no shit."
"You got me into trouble," Martinez responded. "Now you got to get me out of it."

Quintana paused, then said, "All right...Call Danny boy." He gave Martinez a pager number and hung up.

Martinez paged his nephew. When Danny Martinez called back, he was wary. He asked several times if his uncle was with the "po-pos," the police. He wanted to know where Jose was and, when his uncle wouldn't answer, wanted to know why he wouldn't.

Danny Martinez denied having anything to do with a girl at his uncle's house. "There was a bitch there with Zeebo. There was a bitch there with Pancho. There was another bitch that came, and there was another bitch there," he said. "I don't even fuckin' know who they were, and I never seen them in my fuckin' life, and I'll never see them again, probably."

After hanging up, Jose Martinez identified Danny Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Samuel Quintana and David Warren from a photo lineup. A couple of days later he picked a photograph of then-sixteen-year-old Frank Vigil Jr.--Little Bang--out of another lineup.

On June 15, a new informant told Jeffco authorities that he'd been present when several members of the Deuce-Seven CMG sexually assaulted Brandy DuVall. He'd run from the house but assumed the same group had later killed her. This informant added two names to the list of suspects: Maurice "Trap" Warren, the eighteen-year-old brother of David, and nineteen-year-old Jacob "Smiley" Casados.

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