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Suspected gang member accused of making threat

MANATEE — A man in court on charges of racketeering was arrested again after he reportedly threatened a witness testifying in his trial.

Jimmy Sanchez, 23, of Palmetto, who authorities say they believe is a member of SUR 13, was arrested Thursday on a new charge of harassing a witness.

The witness, who is an inmate in the Manatee County jail, contacted deputies Wednesday after she received word from another female inmate Sanchez would retaliate if she testified against him in court.

The woman initially told authorities she would refuse to testify out of fear.

However, a prosecutor in Sanchez’s trial said the threats did not dissuade the witness from testifying in court Friday.

The trial continued Friday as law enforcement officers and gang members testified.

The woman told deputies she received the threat when she was on a transport bus at the jail. Another inmate told her Sanchez called her a snitch and said she was “good as dead,” according to an arrest report.

Sanchez allegedly told the inmate that since he was facing 65 years, “he might as well make it worthwhile by getting (the woman) and her grandparents,” according to records.

The inmate passed the message on and told the woman she believed Sanchez was serious.

Dave Bristow, public information officer for Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said measures are being taken to protect the woman. He said he could not disclose what was being done.

Sanchez and the woman are kept on opposite wings of the jail.

Sanchez sat in court Friday as more witnesses were called to testify in his case. He occasionally glanced back at family members seated behind him.

The trial is scheduled to last until Feb. 27. Sanchez is the second alleged gang member to take his racketeering case to trial. Brown Pride Loco Eric Santiago was tried last year and received a 30-year sentence.

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.