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Sheriff: Murder suspect has gang ties

MANATEE — An 18-year-old Manatee woman accused of having ties to a violent local street gang has been arrested on a charge of murder after authorities say she helped plan a robbery during which a man was placed on his knees and shot to death.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Maria Guadalupe Sanchez on Tuesday in the July 15 shooting death of Rolando Martinez-Rosales, 51.

Sheriff’s detectives said in court Wednesday that Sanchez lured Martinez-Rosales out of a bar on the night he was shot and set him up for an ambush in order to rob him. It’s a ploy detectives say she has used in the past on at least one other occasion.

Sanchez is believed to “lure Hispanic males out of Hispanic nightclubs to be ambushed,” sheriff’s Detective Jeffrey Bliss told Circuit Judge Debra Riva.

Though detectives say Sanchez is not believed to have shot Martinez-Rosales, her actions in planning the robbery amount to murder because an associate of Sanchez’s later shot him to death, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

Sheriff’s reports say Sanchez met Martinez-Rosales at the Cuernavacas Bar, 830 U.S. 301 Blvd. E., on the night of the shooting. Sanchez and a female cousin left the bar with Martinez-Rosales and two of his friends.

They had planned to get pizza, but Sanchez asked Martinez-Rosales if he would stop by her home in the 4000 block of Eighth Street Court East, to pick up a cell phone charger.

Sanchez and her cousin told the men to wait in the car while they went inside. Instead, the women went around the back of the duplex and several armed men surrounded the vehicle, stealing money, jewelry and a cell phone, according to the sheriff’s office.

Martinez-Rosales and the other victims tried to escape the car, but one of his friends was pistol-whipped, while Martinez-Rosales ran away. He ran for a short distance, but the gunmen caught up to him, put him on his knees and fired one shot into the back of his head, according to sheriff’s reports.

The other two victims were able to drive away and reported to authorities that Martinez-Rosales was missing. The victims then drove back to the neighborhood and told detectives they saw Sanchez talking with the same men who attacked them, according to sheriff’s reports.

Detectives also obtained cell phone records, finding several text messages and phone calls were made from the stolen cell phone owned by Martinez-Rosales to Sanchez’s cell phone.

Sheriff’s reports say Sanchez also received messages from a documented SUR-13 gang member discussing a robbery, but the person’s name has not been released.

No other arrests have been made, and Bristow said the shooting is still under investigation.

Assistant Public Defender Patrick Kane argued that the charges against Sanchez should be dropped because there is no proof she shot Martinez-Rosales.

“There are no allegations of her firing a weapon or having a weapon,” Kane said.

Judge Riva did not drop the charges and ordered Sanchez be held without bond on the murder charge, and on $500,000 bond on a robbery charge.

Riva said accusations of gang ties by law enforcement was also a factor in her decision not to allow a bond for Sanchez.

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