June 20, 2024
Jose "Diver" Ochoa, 27, still faces pending state charges that allege he shot and killed Erick Cruz near the Pine Meadows apartments in 2015.

OAKLAND — A Martinez resident who allegedly became a leader of a Concord Sureño gang subset, then founded his own clique called the Murder Mob, has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison for conspiring to sell cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, court records show.

The sentence imposed on 27-year-old Jose Ignacio Ochoa — who authorities say is known by the nickname “Diver” — was roughly 30 months more than what federal prosecutors argued for. But Ochoa’s legal problems are far from over; he still faces unresolved charges in Contra Costa County alleging that, in 2015, he shot and killed a man named Erick Cruz over a dispute involving a .357 revolver.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White imposed the sentence. Prosecutors argued for a 78-month sentence, while the defense argued for a five-year term, citing Ochoa’s involvement in “religious services” at Santa Rita Jail and “remorse” for his drug trafficking crimes, court records show.

Ochoa was arrested and charged in 2020 as part of a massive federal and state investigation aimed at Sureño gangs around the Bay Area, primarily a Concord-based subset called South Side Locos, or SSL. Prosecutors describe Ochoa as one of several SSL “leaders” and Concord police say he helped found a new Sureño clique called Murder Mob or Murder Meadows, based near the city’s Pine Meadows apartments.

Cruz was shot and killed outside the Pine Meadows apartments, allegedly by Ochoa, after several other SSL members worked together to lure him there. According to Concord police, another SSL member named P-Nut told Cruz in a text message that, “we stocking up on hammers right now,” referring to firearms, and that they wanted to buy the revolver from him.

When P-Nut was arrested on unrelated robbery charges days later, he allegedly told police that SSL was trying to gather guns because rival Norteños had been recently spotted in the area, and that they knew Cruz had a gun because they’d gone to a shooting range with him recently.

On Sept. 12, 2015, P-Nut allegedly texted Cruz that they’d raised $600 to buy the gun and arranged to meet Cruz near his home on Riley Court. Cruz’s mother heard a gunshot shortly after Cruz left that night, then saw someone lying on the ground motionless. Fearing the worst, she told her husband to call 911, according to police.

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When Ochoa was questioned about his potential involvement, he allegedly told authorities that he had probably been mistaken for another man named Jose Ochoa who had a different middle name, according to court documents.

The federal case against Ochoa stems largely from a June 2019 raid of his home, where police found nearly a pound of heroin, more than a quarter pound of methamphetamine, 5.5 pounds of cocaine, 994 pills containing fentanyl, a revolver, and an AR-15-style gun, according to a prosecution sentencing memo.

In an apology letter to the court, Ochoa wrote that he came to the realization that a life of crime is “not worth it” and that he hopes to realize his full potential when he’s released.

“I have a daughter now and it has taught me a lot about what I did and how my actions can really hurt people because I don’t want my daughter getting hurt from drugs,” Ochoa wrote. “Now that I think about what drugs could do to my own daughter, I realize how bad my actions were, and I feel terrible.”