Former drug kingpin Alpo Martinez lived for six years in the back first-floor apartment at 169 College St. in Lewiston under the name Abraham Rodriguez. Steve Collins/ Sun Journal

When Alberto “Alpo” Martinez got out of a maximum-security prison in Colorado in 2015, he landed in the federal witness protection program and began a new life far from the life that made him a hip-hop legend as a notorious drug kingpin.

He wound up in the first-floor apartment of an old building on College Street in Lewiston — and stayed there until just a few weeks ago.

When somebody gunned him down in Harlem early on Halloween, Martinez was behind the wheel of the maroon 2017 Ram he bought for a construction business he started out of his Lewiston home.

Neighbors, who knew him as Abraham Rodriguez, had no idea the big, friendly guy next door had once lived at the apex of a drug empire that stretched from New York City to the nation’s capital.

Three different neighbors called it “surreal” on Tuesday.

Kaileigh Tara, who lived above him in the three-story, gray-sided apartment house, said she didn’t believe it could be the same man until she saw photographs of “his souped-up truck” shot up on the streets of Harlem.


“Oh, my God, that’s Abraham’s truck!” Tara said she yelled.

She said that Martinez hadn’t been around much in months. But, she said, he returned two or three weeks ago with a U-Haul that he filled himself.

“Then he drove off and that was the last of it,” Tara said.

His former apartment, with three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room, remains vacant.

Neighbors said they saw a lot of Martinez during the six years he lived in the place, often in the company of an ever-changing variety of women. He had, they said, a lot of girlfriends.

“He kept to himself a lot,” said Harold Hanlon, who lived in the neighboring building, but “he’d do anything for you.”


Hanlon said Martinez often took trips to New York, but there was never anything suspicious about them. Sometimes he had visits from New Yorkers, too, including a couple of kids who stayed with him on occasion.

Some of the visitors, he said, had cars much nicer than anything normal people would drive.

Tara recalled wondering how Martinez could afford a nice truck, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a luxury sedan. But she never had a clue about his past, she said.

Lance Brown considered neighbor Alpo Martinez, whom he knew as Abraham Rodriguez, to be a good friend he had known since 2015. Steve Collins/ Sun Journal

Lance Brown, another neighbor, remembered a time when he saw Martinez driving down the street on his Harley with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” blasting.

Tara said that Martinez liked to turn up the volume on his big screen television and sound system.

Once, she said, “my whole sofa was shaking,” and when he ignored her texts to quiet down, she called the police for help.


She also remembered telling him off for cheating on a woman who considered herself to be his fiancée.

“I did that to a drug lord. He could have disappeared me,” Tara said.

His apartment, neighbors said, was sparsely furnished, with nothing on the walls. It had a “furnished apartment” look, they said, with cheap, simple furniture except for the electronics.

Brown said Martinez had cameras set up to keep an eye on things.

Neighbors said Martinez worked for a time in the warehouse of a Pepsi distributor and then got into construction work, including a business that cleared out commercial space. Most recently, he worked hanging Sheetrock for a project in Scarborough.

Brown said Martinez must have worked hard because he came home sometimes looking like he’d put in long days.


Even so, he always looked good.

Brown said Martinez stood more than 6 feet tall and had “muscles upon muscles.” He didn’t look anywhere near his age of 55.

Hanlon said Martinez was always willing to lend a hand. “He’d do anything for you.”

Brown said that when they ran into each other outside, Martinez always asked, “How ya doing, neighbor” and often questioned if he was doing OK.

“Can I help you in some way?” Martinez would ask.

Brown said when he broke an ankle, Martinez and his girlfriend cooked him meals, though they also often got something at House of Pizza.


“You couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor,” Brown said.

All three said they had no idea Martinez had such a brutal background.

When authorities caught up with Martinez in 1991, he faced the prospect of 14 murder counts and the death penalty.

He cut a deal, informing on others to get a 35-year sentence. By 2015, he was a free man again.

His Lewiston neighbors learned of his fate this week when they read it in the newspaper, wondering if it could be possible that the drug kingpin slain in Harlem could possibly be the same guy they knew.

“It shocked me big time,” Hanlon said.

“We were heartbroken,” Brown said. “This hurts. It really does.”

“I have no sympathy,” Tara said. “It looks like he wanted to get back into the life.”

“You reap what you sow,” Hanlon said.

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