Jose Martinez, alleged member of Mexican drug cartel, admits over 30 murders across U.S., reports say

Jose Martinez
Lawrence County Sheriff's Office

(CBS) MOULTON, Ala. - Jose Martinez, a 52-year-old alleged member of a Mexican drug cartel, has admitted to killing more than 30 people across the United States and is now behind bars in Moulton, Ala., CBS affiliate WIAT reports.

Martinez reportedly admitted to his involvement in the killings during an interview with investigators in Lawrence County, Ala. CNN reports Martinez, who is a U.S. citizen, was being questioned in regards to the shooting of Jose Ruiz, an Alabama man found dead in March. He ultimately confessed to that murder, but didn't stop there.

According to CNN, as of Thursday, authorities had confirmed links between Martinez and 13 murders since his alleged admission. At least 10 of those occurred in California, sheriff's Capt. Tim McWhorder reportedly told the network.

WIAT reports authorities were able to tie Martinez to a 2006 murder in Ocala, Fla. through DNA found on a cigarette butt in the victim's truck. Fox News reports he has since been charged with killing two men in that incident.

Martinez reportedly told police that he is a hired debt collector for a Mexican drug cartel and was called to collect debts since he was 16-years-old. According to WIAT, he clarified with police that he was paid by the cartel to collect debts and not to murder. reports Martinez allegedly claimed he murdered child sex predators in vigilante-style killings.

According to CNN, police say Martinez killed Ruiz for personal reasons. Ruiz reportedly angered Martinez after bad-mouthing the girlfriend of another man, Jamie Romero. The station reports Ruiz apparently was unaware that Romero's girlfriend was also Martinez's daughter.

Police say two months after the alleged incident, Ruiz was found dead.

Romero was initially arrested in the death and Martinez was questioned in the investigation. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office reportedly says Martinez initially denied any involvement but authorities later came to believe he had lied.

Martinez was arrested in Yuma, Ariz., near the Mexico border, and extradited to Alabama on June 3. He is charged with felony murder in Ruiz's death. CBS affiliate WHNT reports charges against Romero have been dropped.

According to the station, Martinez's daughter has declined to comment on her father's arrest.

Martinez is being held without bail.