Blood Brothers

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Sal Martinez heard about the killing the next day. It was all over the streets. Word was that the Ornelases and Quintana had gone looking for him and that Alejandro and Quintana had shot Venus.

Sal didn't tell the police what he knew, which he says shows that he's no snitch. "Or they could have arrested them that day," he adds. "It just blew my mind...I mean, I was just there. I wouldn't want that to happen to my mom or sister or my daughter. I felt bad that she got killed because they were trying to get me. But that's the way it is on the streets."

Lakewood police detective Scott Richardson even called him, Sal says, to tell him that Bango and Speed were saying that Sal had stolen the murder weapon from them, used it and then put it back in their car, where police found it. But Sal says he still refused to talk. He would take care of Bango and Speed in his own way.

That's if he could get to them first. Word on the streets was that Bango's group had "jacked" some big-time Mexican gangsters for a few kilos of marijuana.

But it was their attitude toward women that caught up with them first. On the night of May 30, fifteen-year-old Brandy Duvall was seen leaving the house of a friend. Her body was found the next day, lying next to Clear Creek on a highway west of Golden.

Sal heard what had happened to Brandy on the streets--just as he had learned what had happened to Venus Montoya. She had been raped repeatedly and had pleaded for her life. Fearing that she would tell the police what had happened, though, the gang members took her to the mountains, where they took turns stabbing her, according to court records.

"That poor little girl...that just don't make no sense," says Sal. "I wouldn't call it's just the way they are."

A police informant called the Jefferson County Sheriff's office and said that Brandy had been taken by members of the Westside CMG Bloods to a home in Adams County. The cops arrested several gang members there. Charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of Brandy Duvall were Bango Martinez, Zig-Zag Quintana, Baby G Warren, Maurice Warren, Fran-cisco Martinez, Frank Vigil and Jacob Casados.

Soon afterward, Detective Richardson arrested the Ornelas brothers. Along with Quintana, who was already in jail, they were then charged with the first-degree murder of Venus Montoya.

In court documents to support the Montoya murder charges, the trio's motive was described as wanting to kill Sal Martinez for being a snitch. Venus was just in the wrong place.

"The funny thing is, they're all rollin' over on each other," Sal laughs. "They said I was a snitch, but they can hardly wait to snitch on each other."

For the moment, the arrests have taken care of Sal Martinez's enemies--although the rumor that Sal was a snitch lives on, and as long as it does, he's in danger.

Even so, Sal is a Blood, and he says he will always be a Blood. In the meantime, though, there's that upward mobility thing. He says he hasn't been bangin' for more than a year; he's currently trying to make it as a musician. His group, Vino GLOC-9 (Gangsters Lost on Cloud-9), will release its first "gansta" rap record on the Threat Records label later this summer.

"There's a lot of money in music," Sal says. "You can retire in five, ten years. And the money's legit. I want that...I want a nice house, kids, nice cars--someplace safe."

He's had only one arrest since 1995, after an argument with his girlfriend in which he broke a coffee table. He regrets not finishing high school and is contemplating getting his GED. He'd stop his own kids from joining a gang, he says. "There was no one--not a homeboy or family--there to stop me."

But some habits--unlike people--are hard to kill. For example, he has never called Venus Montoya's family to say he was sorry that she died because of a feud between him and Bango.

"I couldn't explain it to them," he says. "There'd be a lot of anger towards me. I'm sorry, but I can't bring her back by saying I'm sorry.

"That's how it is, that's how it goes. That's life on the streets."

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Steve Jackson