Friday, January 28, 2011

The ‘Arivaca Rules’ were broken on May 30, 2009

The early morning shooting deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, on May 30, 2009, were a breach of the so-called “Arivaca Rules.”

Those rules, according to longtime Arivaca resident and drug dealer Oin Glenn Oakstar, were that the killing of a rival drug dealer was “business,” but that the rival drug dealer’s wife and children were off-limits. “Women and children are not part of it,” Oakstar testified. “There’s no reason to bring them into it.”

Oakstar testified Friday in the first-degree murder case of the founder the Minuteman American Defense founder Shawna Forde, who is also charged with the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Marie Gonzalez; one count of burglary in the first-degree; one count of aggravated assault, serious physical injury; one count of aggravated assault, deadly weapon/dangerous instrument; one count of armed robbery; and one count of aggravated armed robbery. If convicted on the two first-degree murder charges, Forde faces the possibility of the death penalty.

Oakstar’s story

Aerial view of Arivaca, Ariz.
Oakstar, 39, is currently in custody at the Pima County Adult Detention Center as the result of a probation violation. He testified that he was born in Arivaca and has lived in that southern Arizona community for most of his life. The exceptions were two prison sentences he served on drug-related charges in both state and federal prisons. Oakstar, who has never been married, is the father of four children.

Oakstar was asked by Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay to describe the Arivaca he has known all of his life. “Rural is putting it mildly,” he said. It’s mostly ranchers, miners and drug smugglers. Almost the entire economy is based on illegal activities.”

Oakstar, who said he had been smuggling drugs since the age of 14, was asked if he had ever held a conventional job unrelated to the drug trade. “Legal employment, no,” he said. “Mostly, I would smuggle marijuana from Mexico into the U.S.”

Oakstar said he had met co-defendant Albert Gaxiola in 2008 shortly after Gaxiola had been released from prison. They had gone into business together. “We were moving marijuana ourselves,” he testified.

The first time was 1,200 lbs. and the second time was 600 lbs. The going rate for moving marijuana from Arivaca to Tucson was $12.50 per pound. “I did alright,” Oakstar said.

Just business

Raul Flores
Oakstar said Gaxiola considered Flores to be a rival in the drug business and they had started talking about eliminating him as competition in late 2008 and early 2009. “We thought we could hit him economically by taking his marijuana,” Oakstar testified. He said they stole 500 lbs. of marijuana Flores had stashed in an abandoned trailer in the 40 Acres area of Arivaca.

But, they soon began to consider other alternatives. “Once we had gone that far either he was going to kill us or we were going to kill him,” Oakstar testified. “Albert thought we should kill him. We discussed having it done by somebody else. We also discussed doing it ourselves.”

There was no discussion of harming the remainder the of the Flores family. “There was no reason to involve his family,” Oakstar testified. “This was business.”

Albert Gaxiola
Oakstar testified that Gaxiola had met Forde in May 2009. “He suggested inviting her down to help us with our problem,” he said.

When Forde showed up they went to Buffalo Ranch to check a stash house of another rival where Bush shot and killed the inhabitant. “He went in first shooting a shotgun,” Oakstar said. “He claimed the guy reached for a gun.”

Larsen asked if that body was dumped on the Flores property as a warning. Oakstar said he was not aware of that.

Planning session

The next time was a meeting at Gaxiola’s home. “There was discussion about taking out Junior,” Oakstar testified. Oakstar said Forde made it clear that she wanted to steal drugs as a mechanism for funding her border watch group. “Everybody pretty much knew that he didn’t keep drugs on the property,” he testified.

Oakstar said that meeting at Gaxiola’s home was the first time he met Jason Bush. “I had been told he had been a sniper in the military or a military group,” he said. It was at this meeting that Oakstar was asked to take them by the Flores home to get an idea of location and other logistical issues regarding a plan to kill Flores using a sniper.

Flores home on May 30
That scouting drive-by of the Flores home took place on Friday morning, May 29, in a teal minivan with Forde driving and Bush in the passenger seat. Oakstar crouched down to avoid being seen. Gonzalez testified earlier in the week that a male had been driving and a female was riding in the passenger seat. He also testified that they had driven by the home of Victor Flores, Junior’s brother, who Oakstar said was in the business of “moving people.”

The morning after

Oakstar was supposed to be part of the crew that did the home invasion, but he told Gaxiola that he was too drunk and high when Gaxiola came by to pick him up the night of May 29. Instead Oakstar said he spent the night with his girlfriend Sandy Somers-Stroup.  Early on the morning of May 30, he received a call with the news of the Flores home invasion. “Automatically, I assumed it was Shawna and Jason,” he said.

The next call was from Gaxiola who asked him to take painkillers and antibiotics to his house because Bush had been wounded the night before. Oakstar delayed going to Bush’s aid until he received another call, this time from Shawna Forde who he asked about the home invasion. “She said things just got all fucked up,” he said. “They had to go back to get a gun that Albert dropped and they had gotten into a firefight with his wife.”

When Oakstar got to Gaxiola’s home, Bush was alone in the bedroom, but he was reluctant to go in. “A voice in the back of my head said it was dangerous,” he testified. “I didn’t know if I was going to walk out of there alive.” He testified that Bush had a hand under the blanket where he assumed was a gun.

Long arm of the law
After dropping off the painkillers Oakstar was arrested by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department as he walked back to Stroup’s home. A search of Stroup’s home revealed a .357 handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun and a SKS assault rifle.

Oin Glenn Oakstar taken into custody on May 30
Initially, Oakstar lied to detectives upholding the snitcher’s code. “I had never snitched before,” he said. Oakstar was arrested on a charge of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor, a charge that could result in up to 15 years in prison. After a few months in custody, Oakstar was granted a “free talk” with investigators, which led to a plea agreement in exchange for his testimony. “If you make them (the prosecutors) happy, you think they will make you happy,” said Larsen during cross-examination.

Larsen proceeded to get Oakstar to admit to problems with alcohol, drugs and his mental health including hallucinations where he hears voices that aren’t really there.

© David S. Ricker, all rights reserved