Prominent Bakersfield anti-ICE advocate arrested for murder, pleads not guilty

Jose Bello made national headlines after media portrayals painted ICE as targeting a simple Bakersfield College student. Now, authorities have him in custody for a murder.

Jose Bello, the 24-year-old man who made national headlines a few years ago after his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was arrested last week in Bakersfield on suspicion of murder. 

Bello was booked into the Tulare County Jail along with co-defendants Jesus Manjarrez, 23, and Dan Eli Perez, 38. The trio are suspected of murdering 58-year-old Douglas Cline, whose body was found in an orchard near Terra Bella on Oct. 15. 


He pleaded not guilty at his preliminary arraignment in the Tulare County Superior Court on Monday. 

The preliminary hearing has been set for Dec. 3, and Bello will not be allowed to get out on bail. 

This is the second arrest in a matter of months for Bello.

In September, authorities in Kern County picked him up for multiple felony drug and gun charges. He was released from the Kern County Jail on Sep. 3. 

Bello’s first stint in the national spotlight came in 2018 when he was arrested, along with his brother Oscar Bello-Reyes, for alleged gang ties. 

The brothers were bailed out of ICE’s Mesa Verde detention facility in Bakersfield after local supporters raised $10,000. 

In May 2019, Bello attended a forum hosted by the Kern County Board of Supervisors regarding the county’s involvement and cooperation with ICE. 

Bello read a poem titled “Dear America” at the forum, which was strongly critical of ICE. 

ICE arrested him just a few days later on a driving under the influence of alcohol charge from January 2019. 

Two NFL players – San Francisco 49ers cornerback Josh Norman and New Orleans Saints linebacker – covered Bello’s $50,000 bail to release him from his second stint at Mesa Verde.

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