The epic federal trial of MS -13 members and Edwin Ramos’s upcoming trial raise the following:
#1 Did the gangbanger who worked for the feds create a climate that sparked killings?
The claim: That in his zeal to help the feds take down MS- 13, Roberto “Bad Boy” Acosta— aka federal informant 1211— wasn’t just ratting out the gang. He was “an agent provocateur for the very violence he was informing about” (SF Weekly)—violence that led directly to the Bologna murders.
The evidence: After arriving from Honduras in 2005, Acosta pushed the 20th Street MS- 13 members to do more jale (crimes to boost the gang’s hard-core image)and “regulated” scofflaws with imposed beatings. When other gangs began rejecting his program of charging them for selling drugs or fake documents on the 20th Street gang’s Mission District turf, war broke out, which led to a drive-by shooting and then the Bologna tragedy.
How prosecutors respond: Bad Boy didn’t lead the gang astray; in fact, say the feds, the big surge of murders came after he was out as a leader, causing a power vacuum. The feds have no answer for the charge that their top snitch murdered eight people in Honduras in the year before he moved to the Bay Area and infiltrated 20th Street; he recently confessed and now faces five years in prison for lying to his government keepers.
#2 Was Ramos even part of the gang?
The claim: That Edwin “Popeye” Ramos quit MS- 13 two years before the Bologna murders because he objected to the violent direction in which its leaders (who also happened to be government informants) were steering it. He was “jumped out” of 20th Street and never rejoined, lawyer Marla Zamora insists, though she doesn’t deny that his marriage to Jackie Martinez put him in “back in the mix” with Martinez’s brother "Goofy” and uncle “Mickey,” both MS- 13 members who
would testify for the feds.
The evidence: The Chronicle’s photo of Ramos and his wife shows him wearing red—the color of MS- 13’s archenemies, the Norteños.
How prosecutors respond: Preposterous—just look at the evidence in Operation Devil Horns, in which Goofy Martinez testified that Ramos left 20th Street to join the even more militant Pasadena Loco Sureños, and Ramos’s cell phone contact list read like the federal indictment.
#3 Is Flaco the real killer?
The claim: That Wilfredo “Flaco” Reyes killed the Bologna family—and that the SFPD ignored the evidence because they had Edwin Ramos in hand.
The evidence: When arrested, Ramos instantly fingered Flaco; he insists the shotcaller for the Pasadena Loco Sureños clique of MS- 13 was in the passenger seat as they cruised the Excelsior, mistook the Bologna boys for “chapos,” or enemies, pulled out a .9 mm semiautomatic, and fired. Witnesses confirm that at least two people were in Ramos’s car, and cell phone traffic that day shows Flaco in contact with Ramos and the wounded MS- 13 member they were avenging. But once Ramos was in custody—and ID ’d as the driver by Christopher Bologna (who didn’t see the shooting, only the gun’s flash)—the SFPD waited days to pursue Flaco, though they knew where he lived, worked, and hung out. By the time they moved, he was gone. Defense attorney Andrea Lindsay interprets the cops’ thinking: “Edwin was perfect—supposedly this illegal immigrant, an MS- 13 kid. Case closed. Can’t find Flaco, let’s just focus on Edwin and give the victims’ family closure.”
How prosecutors respond: Whether Flaco or someone else was in the car, Ramos has admitted he drove it—which makes him guilty of first-degree murder. Police didn’t go after Flaco because they firmly believe that Ramos was the shooter, “not because they’re lazy,” says a D.A.’s Office spokesperson.