Longform

The Gang's All Here

Page 5 of 9

The gang unit had picked up "Jesse," a Westside CMG Blood who was known to associate with the Ornelas brothers, Alejandro and Gerard.

Jesse (not his real name) was talking to the Denver cops. He swore that he didn't have anything to do with the drive-by. But when Richardson interviewed him later, Jesse said he did know something about the Montoya killing. He identified the gray car as belonging to Samuel Merced Quintana Jr., a Westside CMG who was the son of a Denver County sheriff's deputy. Quintana was known to his compatriots as "Zig-Zag" and had a long criminal record that included numerous assaults, drug deals and weapons violations.

Alejandro "Speed" Ornelas, 21, and 22-year-old Zig-Zag Quintana had killed Venus, Jesse said; Gerard "G-Loc" Ornelas, 25, had helped them plan and carry out their mission. They'd been looking for Sal Martinez because they believed he was supplying the Denver police with information about drug dealing that implicated Bango Martinez and Alejandro Ornelas. And in their world, a snitch had to die.

Sal Martinez was marked for a hit, but he couldn't be found. Then that Thursday night, one of the Ornelases' uncles had seen him visiting the girls at the Sheridan apartment complex. According to Jesse, Alejandro Ornelas and Quintana had gone to check for themselves. When they spotted Sal Martinez and Biggs, they'd hurried home to get their weapons and change into black clothing.

When they returned to the apartment complex just before dawn, Jesse said, Alejandro Ornelas was carrying the assault rifle and Quintana the 9mm. When his partner started shooting, Quintana dropped the 9mm clip.

After the murder, the two young men hid their weapons in a field. Alejandro had been angry with Quintana for losing the clip--he feared that police would be able to find fingerprints on it. But the two gang members relaxed when they read that Sanchez and Garcia had been picked up by the cops. So sure were they that they were in the clear, they went to the field and retrieved their weapons.

Alejandro Ornelas had bragged to Jesse about the killing. "I smoked that bitch, and I'm gonna chill and hang out for a while," he'd said. Gerard Ornelas had confirmed that his brother "smoked that bitch."

None of them had known Venus Montoya. But Sal Martinez had been in her apartment at one time, and that was enough for them.

Quintana was upset that the Ornelas brothers had talked with Jesse about the shooting. And his concerns were justified when the police raided the brothers' apartment and found an assault rifle, black gloves and a black ski mask.

Quintana and Alejandro Ornelas got to work on their alibi. There had been a party, they decided, and some "Baby Gs"--young gangster wannabes--had taken their guns, returning them sometime later.

Word was out with the Westside CMG Bloods that Jesse was not to be trusted. Richard "Mickey" Avila called and told him not to talk to police. Quintana, Gerard Ornelas and Francisco "Bisco" Guzman were more direct: They told Jesse they thought he was a snitch and said he'd better go "take care of business" and try to explain himself. They warned him that whoever talked could count on being the next CMG target. It was the equivalent of a death sentence, Jesse told the cops.

Everyone came to Venus's funeral but the younger of her two brothers. He'd pleaded with the authorities to let him out of prison long enough to say goodbye, but his request was denied. Instead, he sat alone in his cell with dark thoughts of revenge.

Becky prayed that the police would catch Venus's killers, but she didn't cling to any false hopes. After all, everybody knew who had killed her son, but the police had said there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him. It galled her to see the man out walking the streets years after she'd buried her son.

As the weeks turned into months, Becky feared that Venus's murderers might never be punished, either.

Becky felt like someone had torn her heart out and left a gaping hole. Of all the children she had lost, Venus's death was the hardest. She had been so young, so full of life and love.

Perhaps it was fortunate that Becky was left with Angel, her great-grandson, to look after. The little boy wandered from room to room looking for his mother. When would she come to get him? Why wasn't she home?

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Steve Jackson