Marion Co. man confesses to killing for Mexican drug cartel, police say


MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A Marion County man confessed to killing two men nearly seven years ago when he went to collect payment for a Mexican drug cartel.

Investigators said the man also confessed to many other unsolved murders.

They said he not only confessed to shooting two men who were found dead on a road, but also to 11 killings in California and several more murders.

After seven years of searching for the person who shot and killed the two men, Marion County detectives thought the case was cold -- until now.

Detectives said they found a cigarette butt in a soda can that was in the victims' truck and they sent it off for DNA testing.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said the DNA matched Jose Manuel Martinez, who was already in custody for a different homicide case.

When Marion County Detective TJ Watts questioned Martinez, he said Martinez confessed to being a debt collector for drug cartels in Mexico.

"From his statement, he's killed over 30 people throughout the United States. So this is what he does. He's an individual that goes around, collects debts for the cartels and kills people," Watts said.

Watts said Martinez also confessed to killing Javier Huerta and Gustavo Rivas in Marion County.

"He didn't want them to be able to identify him at a later date. And that's why he killed them," Watts said.

Investigators said Huerta owed Martinez drug money and Rivas was an innocent friend caught up in the crime.

Detectives said Martinez has confessed to so many other killings, other law enforcement agencies have launched investigations.