Last Thursday, Los Angeles Chief of Police William Bratton (above) announced at a well orchestrated press conference that the murder of a Mongols Motorcycle Club patch holder named Manual Vincent “Hitman” Martin had been solved.
The virtually Orwellian press event capped the arrests of 20 alleged members of the Toonerville clique in northeast Los Angeles. The police operation, which apparently did not have a contrived name, was carried out by members of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Glendale Police Department and other unnamed agencies. Toonerville is a mostly Latino clique. Bratton called Toonerville one of the ten most dangerous gangs in Los Angeles.
Four people were arrested for murder, four for attempted murder and twelve more were arrested on suspicion of violating drug or gun laws. The most prominent agency involved in enforcement of gun laws in the United States in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Martin Was Riding Home
The raids concluded an investigation that began with the murder of Martin in the early morning hours of October 8th, 2008. Martin, 30, of Venice, California had spent the evening of October 7th in a bar at a party for another Mongol.
Three undercover ATF Agents including Special Agent Darrin Kozlowski also attended the party. The three Undercover Agents rode to the party with Martin. The party was held in the final three weeks of Operation Black Rain, the ATF undercover investigation of the Mongols. According to witnesses, the ATF Agents spent much of the night trying to start a fight with the bar’s bouncers and other patrons.
A member of the Toonerville clique was also at the same bar that night.
The ATF Agents left the bar about 90 minutes before Martin.
Thirteen shots were fired at Martin as he rode with another biker on the connector road between the 2 and the 210 Freeways. He was struck once in the chest.
After the shooting, the police were extraordinarily coy. The next morning Sergeant Tom Lorenz of the Glendale Police Department speculated that the shooting might have been a “case of road rage.” Lorenz went on to say “We are investigating whether or not it does involve an outlaw motorcycle gang. At this particular time, we have not confirmed it.”
A reliable source has said that after the shooting Koslowski tried to convince other Mongols that Martin was killed by a member of the Toonerville clique.
Last Thursday, police said the Toonerville arrests were the logical result of Martin’s murder. Glendale Sergeant Lorenz said, “Obviously since that shooting, it’s been nine months of a grueling investigation.”
According to police, the ensuing inquiry substantiated Koslowski’s accusation. The alleged murderer was arrested by another, unnamed police agency on other charges. That suspect has not yet been named or charged with murder.