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'Hooligans' gang leader pleads guilty to scheme to steal dozens of jeeps in San Diego

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 20:13:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The leader of a San Diego motorcycle gang pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in a scheme to seal dozens of Jeep Wranglers in San Diego County.

Jimmy Josue Martinez, a leader of the Hooligans motorcycle gang, pleaded guilty Tuesday, admitting to participating in the scheme.

According to court records, the gang is responsible for the theft of more than 150 of the vehicles since 2014, totaling about $4.5 million.

Records show that the Hooligans used high-tech methods to disable security systems and steal the Jeeps before taking them to Tijuana to be sold or stripped for parts.

RELATED: Three arrested, 6 sought in San Diego Jeep Wrangler theft ring

As part of the plea agreement, Martinez admitted to stealing the Jeeps in Pacific Beach, Serra Mesa, Chula Vista, Mission Valley, Ocean Beach, Hillcrest and North Park.

Martinez and members of his crew would obtain the vehicle identification number in advance before getting secret key codes which allowed them to create a duplicate key for a particular Jeep.

“The joy ride is over for Mr. Martinez,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “These thefts were audacious and sophisticated and created hassle and heartache for scores of Jeep owners. I congratulate prosecutors Andrew Galvin and Joseph S. Green, the FBI and members of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force for putting together a strong case against a gang that, unfortunately, has lived up to its name.”

Along with Martinez, eight other members of the gang were charged in a grand jury indictment in 2017.

Of the nine charged, six have pleaded guilty and three are fugitives.