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Drug Dealer Takes Stand in Lompoc Kidnapping-Torture Retrial

An admitted drug dealer testified Tuesday about the kidnapping and torture of his cousin in Lompoc during the retrial of Raymond Daniel Macias, a top gang leader in Santa Barbara County. 

Frankie Lopez, who admitted selling methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine in the past, took the witness stand Tuesday afternoon in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria. 

Lopez was one of several defendants granted immunity for testifying against two gang members — Macias plus Luis “Lucky” Almanza — in connection with the January 2013 kidnapping and torture of a drug user and gang member called “Sicko.”

The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury indicted a several people in June 2013 in connection with the case..

Macias is being retried on one count of kidnapping for extortion.

In the first trial, a different jury found him guilty of torture and selling drugs, but couldn’t agree on verdicts regarding kidnapping for extortion and solicitation for extortion.

He also faces special allegations for gang involvement and the use of a firearm.

Under questioning from Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen, Lopez, 22, said he avoided joining a gang “because I seen the road my dad was going on and my brothers.”

However, he began selling drugs and using them for nearly two years, eventually landing in debt to the Sinaloa Cartel when a $21,000 shipment of drugs hidden in a Lompoc laundry room reportedly disappeared. 

“They don’t play around,” Lopez said.

Lopez testified that he sought a loan from Macias, allegedly the top ranking gang member, or “big homie,” who oversaw collection of drug taxes from throughout Santa Barbara County for the Surenos.

“He just said, ‘My name is Boxer. I’m the big homie. I’m going to collect taxes for Lompoc,” Lopez said, adding he paid those taxes for protection since he was selling drugs in Lompoc.

Lopez told of meeting with another high-level member of the gang in Santa Barbara and getting the cash for the $5,000 loan with $1,000 interest due in 30 days.

“You guys know the consequences if you don’t pay it back,” Lopez said he and his brothers were told.

His cousin, Sicko, also reportedly owed drug taxes to Macias, and had been hiding. Lopez told of giving his cousin some drugs and cash to help pay the debt to Macias.

On the day of the kidnapping, Lopez said he was called and told to pick up his brothers and a third gang member to go purchase marijuana and later to drive to Sicko’s apartment.

He dropped them off at a residence in Lompoc, where other gang members awaited them in the detached garage.

“I just knew he was going to get talked to and he was going to get a checking,” Lopez testified about Sicko.

A “checking” is a 13-second beating, he added.

He didn’t stay, “cause I’m not a homie,” Lopez said.

A phone call from one of his brothers sent Lopez back to the garage because “the homie” needed to ask him a question.

“He just asked if I gave Sicko money and I told him yeah,” Lopez said, recalling how his cousin earlier said he had been low-key because he owed “drug taxes” to Macias, whose gang moniker is “Boxer.”

Lopez recalled walking into the garage, seeing a tarp covering the floors and walls while Sicko sat in the center of the room with a busted lip and his hands bound.

His cousin was saying, “I’ll get you your money. I’ll get you your money. Don’t worry,” Lopez testified.

Lopez left, only to return again when his brothers called them for a ride home. His brothers and Sicko ran to the car as Lopez pulled up to the house.

All three remained mum about what had happened in the garage. After dropping off his brothers, Lopez was alone in the car with Sicko.

“He just started bawling,” Lopez testified. “He just said I can’t believe my cousins let that happen.”

Lopez said he was arrested on a warrant for not following through with earlier requirements of his sentence for drugs and spent 10 days in jail, which proved “that I didn’t want to live this lifestyle,” he said.

“Jail wasn’t me,” Lopez added.

Lopez, a father, said he was granted immunity for testifying for the prosecution and is in the California Witness Protection program as he tries to leave behind his prior life.

On cross examination, Defense Attorney Michael Scott tried to discredit the testimony, getting the Lopez to admit several times about telling lies or half-truths to police or during previous testimony.

Scott asked if Lopez told one of his brothers that the reason he couldn’t pay his taxes is that customers weren’t paying him so he made up the story about the drugs being stolen from a laundry room. 

“No,” Lopez answered. 

He also denied talking about the case while sharing a jail cell with his two brothers, who also were arrested in connection with this case.

“I wasn’t allowed to,” he said.

Lopez said his memory could be unreliable.

“I’m forgetful when I was high on drugs,” he said.

He admitted burglarizing a Subway sandwich shop and a Radio Shack, but couldn’t say when those crimes occurred.

“I was too high to remember,” Lopez said.

Testimony in the case is scheduled to resume Thursday morning in Santa Maria before Judge Patricia Kelly.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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