Man with memorable tattoo gets 3 years for sex crime

Article author: 
Phil Wright
Article publisher: 
East Oregonian
Article date: 
Monday, June 30, 2014
Article category: 
Article Body: 

A former Irrigon man who evaded justice for 12 years is going to prison for three years for a sex crime.

Court records show Martin Estrada, also known as Juan Manuel Virelas-Martinez, pleaded guilty June 19 to one count of second-degree sodomy.

Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson said Oregon State Police investigated Estrada in August 2002 for sex crimes in Irrigon. Police found Estrada received oral sex from a girl who passed herself off as 15 when she was a 13-year-old runaway living with him in his trailer. Detectives interviewed Estrada and arrested him Aug. 29, 2002.

But Estrada was able to take off before facing trial.

Then in May, state police arrested a man for a drug-related charge. The man used the name Juan Manuel Virelas-Martinez. Umatilla County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Fox, who handles inmate information at the Pendleton jail, noticed Martinez’s fingerprints matched Estrada’s.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a warrant for Virelas-Martinez. While jail staff processed the warrant and found more information for ICE, they also found state and federal identification information that linked Virelas-Martinez to a Martin Estrada.

Virelas-Martinez also sported a large tattoo below his chest that displays his home state Michoachan in Mexico and two scantily clad women on either side of his belly. Old police photos of Estrada show the same tattoo.

While Fox nailed down the identity of the sex-crimes defendant, his victim remained unknown. Nelson said his staff found the young woman living in Houston, Texas. His office spoke with her once, he said, but then all communication stopped.

Nelson said the case against Estrada was on the verge of dismissal when Harris County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Texas found the victim again. The office assigned an investigator to the case who talked to the woman and promised to protect her if she had to testify.

Nelson said that set the stage for a plea deal with Estrada, who after doing his time faces deportation.

Martin Estrada’s tattoo matches the tattoo of Virelas-Martinez. Police believe they are the same man.