COLUMBUS — A Columbus couple arrested for possession of drugs late last week was accused Monday of allowing their 14th Street home to be used as a hangout for street gang members during a bond review hearing in Platte County Court.
Judge Frank Skorupa set bond at 10 percent of $50,000 each for Erick Flores, 31, and Marina Ramirez, 21, during a brief hearing held via videoconference from the Platte County Detention Facility.
By state law, a defendant can be released pending trial or sentencing by posting 10 percent of the bond.
Skorupa scheduled Flores and Ramirez for first appearance hearings at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 8.
Flores, who Deputy Platte County Attorney Morgan Smith called the “ringleader” of gang members who hang out at the two-story white house at 2215 14th St., and Ramirez have not been formally charged in the case.
Street gang members are known to frequent the couple’s home, Smith told the judge on Monday.
The defendants were arrested Friday afternoon for possession of methamphetamine and prescription narcotics in an unauthorized container after law enforcement authorities served a search warrant at their home.
During the search, officers shot and killed a pit bull inside the residence that was perceived as a threat.
On Monday, Flores admitted hosting barbecues that may have been attended by gang members, but denied any involvement in criminal activities they may have been involved in.
“I do barbecues, they come over for those,” said Flores, adding that the drugs and guns named on the search warrant were not found at the home by authorities. “I’ve got nothing to do with what they do outside of that.”
Court documents in another recent case have also described the city couple’s home as a gathering place for gang members.
Three suspects who have been charged in an Oct. 31 drive-by shooting, according to an affidavit filed in that case, were at the 14th Street home prior to the 2:25 a.m. shooting.
Benjamin Gonzalez, 17, Anthony Ramirez, 16, and Ismael Ruiz, 20, have been charged as adults in the drive-by shooting.
Gonzalez and Ramirez, the brother of Marina Ramirez, remain in custody at Northeast Nebraska Juvenile Services in Madison. Ruiz is in custody at the county jail.
Ramirez is accused of firing a sawed-off rifle, which was reported stolen in a residential burglary in rural Platte County.
, at a house along 17th Street on the north side of Columbus Middle School on Oct. 31. A party was under way at the residence at the time of the shooting.
Gonzalez is accused of carrying the rifle prior to the shooting and Ruiz has admitted driving the vehicle. Ruiz has denied any knowledge of the intentions of his co-defendants prior to the shooting.
Police recovered a short, .22 caliber rifle and spent shell casings that the suspects had discarded in an alley near the shooting site.
Ramirez and Gonzalez have also been charged in connection with the Oct. 5 stabbing of a 35-year-old Columbus man. Gonzalez is accused of stabbing the city man in incident that began as a dispute between rival gang members.
The victim suffered multiple slash-type wounds during the attack and was transported to Columbus Community Hospital. He was later transferred by helicopter to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for further treatment.