Oct. 13--MARTINEZ -- A former member of a Mexican drug cartel testified in a murder case Thursday about his relationship with a corrupt Richmond officer.
Sergio Vega-Robles, a former member of the Sinaloa Drug cartel, is now a key witness in the trial of Coby Phillips, 42. Phillips, the founder of an Irish-American street gang, has been charged with murdering an Aryan Brotherhood drug dealer in Crockett, and later with putting a hit out on Vega-Robles' attorney, who organized the plea deal that turned Vega-Robles into a witness.
Sergio Vega-Robles, along with his brother, Jose Vega-Robles, sold drugs in Contra Costa and Solano Counties during the early 2000s. Sergio Vega-Robles testified Thursday that he sold cocaine, and that his brother sold cocaine and methamphetamine.
He said under oath that his brother made drugs deals with Phillips, a founder of the Family Affiliated Irish Mafia, or FAIM. Sometimes, Sergio Vega-Robles said under oath, his brother would accept guns in exchange for drugs delivered to Phillips, and that the guns would then be sent down to Mexico.
FAIM formed as a gang out of the Crockett/Rodeo area in the mid-90s, and is mainly composed of Irish-Americans. Phillips, one of four founders, gained a reputation as ruthless, but highly intelligent. Prosecutors say Phillips and other FAIM members made hundreds of thousands of dollars during the 1990s, selling methamphetamine and buying houses, expensive sports cars, and investing in local businesses.
Sergio Vega-Robles testified that, unbeknownst to others in the drug ring, he began giving information to authorities about local drug dealers. In exchange, he testified that Richmond police Sgt. Michael Wang would give him cash seized from drug dealers police arrested.
Vega-Robles testified as well that he gave Wang money, totally more than $100,000. He implicated Wang in other crimes too, such as keeping money seized in drug operations, which was supposed to be turned in as evidence.
Later, Sergio Vega-Robles, his brother, Phillips, and others were implicated as co-defendants in a federal drug trafficking case. During that time Vega-Robles testified that Phillips found out he had been talking to police. He said he was attacked in jail soon afterwards.
Wang has not been charged with any crimes, according to Contra Costa Senior Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove. Grove said there was a "long story" why Wang was never charged, but deferred all questions to Tom Kensok, the prosecutor handling Phillips' murder trial.
Kensok said no charges have "yet" been filed against Wang for alleged conduct in 2004, but declined to comment further.
Sergio-Vega Robles also testified that after he got back from a trip to Mexico, his car was missing. He said his brother later told him that he, Phillips, and a third man -- Josue "Primo" Lomelli, had used it to meet with an Aryan Brotherhood-affiliated drug dealer named Darryl Grockett, and that Grockett had been shot and killed.
Lomelli is at-large, believed to be in Mexico. Jose Vega-Robles was convicted in Grockett's killing. In 2013, a jury deadlocked on murder charges against Phillips, resulting in a mistrial.
Since then, Phillips has been accused of soliciting Jason Soletti, a fellow inmate at the Martinez jail, to kill Sergio Vega-Robles' attorney.