The Five Joaquins – Goldrush Outlaws


Joaquin Murrieta

Joaquin Murrieta

The Five Joaquins were said to be responsible for the majority of cattle rustling, robberies, and murders that were committed in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas in California between 1850 and 1853.

Led by Joaquin Murietta, the gang also included members Joaquin Botellier, Joaquin Carrillo, Joaquin Ocomorenia, and Joaquin Valenzuela, hence the name of the gang. Also included was Murietta’s right-hand man, Manuel Garcia, known as “Three-Fingered Jack.” The gang allegedly formed and began to terrorize the towns and gold camps because the Mexicans were being discriminated against in the mines and forced off their land by invading hordes of American miners. The gang is credited with stealing more than $100,000 in gold, over 100 horses, killing over 40 people — 28 Chinese and 13 Whites. Three of these were lawmen who were killed while the gang was outrunning posses.

On May 11, 1853, California Governor John Bigler signed a legislative act creating the “California State Rangers,” led by Captain Harry Love (a former Texas Ranger). Their mission was to capture the “Five Joaquins”. The California Rangers were paid $150 a month and stood a chance to share a $5000 reward for the capture of Joaquin Murrieta. On July 25, 1853, a group of Rangers encountered a band of armed Mexican men near Panoche Pass in San Benito County, 50 miles from Monterey. A confrontation took place, and two of the Mexicans were killed. One was claimed to have been Murrieta, and the other was thought to be Three-Fingered Jack.


© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated February 2020.

Also See: 

Joaquin Murietta

Outlaws on the Frontier

Outlaw Gangs

Lawmen of the Old West