One summer day in 2015, under the suffocating Houston, Texas sun, police cameras were clicking away at the crime scene that lay before them. The lenses were pointed down into a waist-deep hole – at a freshly dug grave in which the body of a man in his late 40s lay.
There was blood – at least it appeared to be blood – running down his face. A gunshot wound to his right temple. The man was wearing nothing but his underwear, and his arms were pulled behind his back. The whole picture screamed “murder for hire.” And that’s exactly what the man in the ditch − and the cops – wanted.
The Man in the Ditch
The man in the ditch was no John Doe – he was already known to the detectives o the Montgomery County Constable’s Office. The man was Ramon Sosa, one of southeast Texas’ best-known boxing trainers. He was once a professional fighter himself, teaching fighters and Olympic hopefuls how to spar the Puerto Rican way.
He was a man who “did good,” providing dozens of kids from gangs and other at-risk youth a place to channel their angst through his non-profit Young Prospects Boxing program. He also owned a successful gym no more than two miles from the grave he was found in…
He Was Living the Good Life
This spot – the grave he lay in – was surrounded by heavy forest, just outside of (and hidden from) the “bedroom community” known as The Woodlands. So how did Sosa get into this mess? It was no secret that Sosa was making a pretty good living.
His successful gym was bringing in about $20,000 a month, giving the boxing trainer and his wife a nice allowance – one that afforded them a fancy new house, several cars, motorcycles, designer clothes and swanky watches. Detectives knew all of this. Their first thought was that his “murder” had to do with gangs and money.
They Say the World’s a Stage
Unfortunately, this kind of scene happens to be a cliché. A man ends up in a shallow grave? He was probably killed for drugs or money, right? Well, this crime didn’t turn out to be as predictable. In fact, this crime was the furthest thing from a cliché. As it turns out, the man in the ditch wasn’t dead at all.
After a bunch of camera clicks, the lead detective said to the body lying before him: “We’re done, Mr. Sosa. You can get up now.” And just like that, the man in the grave opened his eyes. That’s right; it was staged.
Ten Years Earlier…
One day in Houston, in 2005, a guy named Mundo walked out of jail after being acquitted of a violent felony charge. He had already spent 14 months inside. He had joined his local gang at the of 12 and was even shot six times in three separate incidents before serving time.
As soon as he got out, his girlfriend and future wife gave him an ultimatum: her or his vicious neighborhood. He chose her and the pair moved to the other side of town. But the kid had a lot of pent-up anger inside of him. He needed an outlet.
The Guy Was Surrounded by Fighters
Once he and his girl moved to the other side of town, he started to search the area for gyms. He stumbled upon a small space where Ramon Sosa, one of the trainers, always seemed to be surrounded by young fighters.
Mundo had heard about this trainer, and specifically about his technique. He knew Sosa was into Puerto Rican boxing. “He looked like a professional boxer,” Mundo later explained. And he thought to himself, “I want that.” But that was pretty much all he knew about this Ramon Sosa…
It’s Not All What It’s Cut Out to Be
Sosa was born in Puerto Rico but moved to Houston when he was a little kid. He went back to his home island, though, at 17, when he became a professional boxer. It was around then that the bubble burst for Sosa. He came to realize the nitty gritty details of the business.
He regrettably understood that the business was all about people “trying to make money off you in so many ways. I was nothing but a piece of meat,” Sosa said. Needless to say, he didn’t like it at all.
Vegas, Jersey, and THE Mansion
Sosa went back to Houston and soon learned something important – that his purpose wasn’t to be in the center of the ring, but in the corner. He soon started training boxers from the area and had the pleasure of going to Vegas and Jersey for fights.
He even paid a visit to the one and only Playboy Mansion where he posed for photos with Hugh Hefner and Mike Tyson. “Boxing at the professional level, it’s entertainment,” he said at the time. “You get to see a lot of celebrities. All bills paid and everything.”
The Ones Who Do It for Love
Life was beginning to be good – really good. However, Sosa wasn’t so gung-ho about the professional boxing scene. He eventually turned to the young amateur fighters – the ones he could really train and mentor. They’re the ones who “do it for the heart, for love, for something other than money.”
Sosa had been training for two decades by the time Mundo walked into his boutique boxing gym. “He was different,” Sosa recalled. He also remembers what Mundo told him – that he didn’t want to fight.
One Man’s Routine Is Another Man’s New Beginning
Mundo told Sosa that he wanted to learn how to box. For Sosa, it was another young fighter he was ready to train. But for Mundo, it was a new beginning. For the young ex-con and boxing hopeful, it was the first time a male figure took an interest in his life.
It was exactly what Mundo needed in his life. Mundo said that Sosa set ground rules: he checked up on him, which he “didn’t have to do.” And it meant a lot.
One Man’s New Beginning Is Another Man’s Inspiration
It didn’t take long for Sosa to become Mundo’s role model – his mentor. He confided in Sosa about what had happened to him in his past, about the problems that he had with the law, about being a gang member. Mundo traded the streets for the ring.
Soon enough, the tables turned, and Mundo was the one providing inspiration for Sosa. The seasoned trainer decided to launch a non-profit in order to reach other kids like Mundo, who remembers thinking that he and Sosa “could save every kid that came into the gym.”
Then Lulu Showed Up
And that’s what went down for the following two years, that is, until a woman walked into the room. One night, in 2007 a woman stepped on Sosa’s toe. Literally. Her name was Maria de Lourdes Dorantes, but she was known simply as Lulu.
It was hard not to notice Lulu – she was tall, thin, had dark hair and a hypnotizing walk. “I saw her when I first walked in,” Sosa recalled. “She was on the dance floor. They were playing salsa.”
A Blessing in Disguise
He said in that moment, “Man, this is a beautiful lady!” Sosa knew he had to get his hands on this woman. So, he wore his favorite Versace sweater and his go-to bling watch just so he could be let inside the trendy Latin nightclub in The Woodlands.
He bought a beer and watched her dance. Then, as she walked past him in her six-inch stilettos, she accidentally stepped on his toe. Ouch. But no pain, no gain, right? The little misstep (pun intended) was more like a blessing in disguise.
A Stubbed Toe Leads to a Dance
“Oh, my goodness,” were his first words to Lulu. He bent down as she apologized to him, “Please, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. What can I do?” It was almost too good to be true. Sosa had his opening, and he took it.
So, he asked her to dance. And just like that, it was the beginning of a new chapter in his – and her – life. But this was beyond just a new chapter. It was the beginning of a whole new story – a tale of love, lies, and murder for hire.
The Thing About Lulu
She “caught” him – “captivated” him. Lulu, as he later explained, was the type of person who “gives you massages, manicures, pedicures.” If he had a drink, she would bring him his next one before he even finished his first glass.
She served him food; she treated him like a king. What man wouldn’t want that? And she was his queen. At least for a while. The thing about Lulu, however, was that she was a predator lying in wait. She just needed a reason to unleash her inner demon…
Her Status Wasn’t a Deal-Breaker
Sosa knew that Lulu was one of many Mexican ex-pats who came to The Woodlands on a United States visitor visa. He knew she wasn’t legally allowed to work in America. But it wasn’t a deal-breaker. Plus, she made a living under the table.
She paid bills by cleaning houses and working as a massage therapist until they got married in 2009. About a year later, they opened Woodlands Boxing and Fitness together. “I was very happy,” Sosa said of those years. “Very happy to see my dreams come true.”
Living the Dream
Boy, was it a dream! Their new gym was attracting about 200 clients a month. Sosa said they were making $18,000 to $20,000 a month. It was a very big deal for the man, who – in addition to training boxers – had always worked a full-time job at a shipping company.
With their new wealth, they bought a “brand-spanking-new two-story home,” as well as motorcycles and cars. Lulu, who liked to dress nice, was buying herself all the designer outfits she had dreamed of one day owning.
Lulu Ran the Show
We didn’t forget about Mundo, though. Mundo said he vividly remembers the first time he saw Lulu. “She walked into the gym just calling the shots,” he recalled. “She put in a lot of work. She basically took care of the business.”
The Sosas took in Mundo as part of their family. The young man, who “wasn’t even looking for a father,” ended up finding a father figure in Sosa. Lulu wasn’t so much like a mother to him, however. She “acted like a good friend,” he explained.
With Citizenship Came the Problems
Sosa legally sponsored Lulu, who had two teenagers. In fact, he sponsored her mother and Lulu’s son and daughter to help get their U.S. citizenship. It took three years, but it finally happened. And once the citizenship was finalized – only then did the cracks appear in their marriage.
There was a certain altercation that took place during a vacation to Puerto Rico. According to Sosa, Lulu knew exactly which buttons to push. He said they “got into a little back-and-forth.” Then Lulu told him she was going to call his mother…
Leave My Mother Out of It
Uh oh. With that, he pulled the phone out of her hand and told her, “The problem is between you and me, not my mother. I’m a grown man.” That’s when Lulu called hotel security, claiming that her husband was abusing her.
The head of security, after listening to both sides, advised them to sleep in separate rooms. By March 2015, Lulu was filing for divorce. “She wanted everything,” Sosa said. The way he saw it, she wanted him gone. But everything else? She wanted it all.
Lulu Played Dirty
Sosa remembers telling Lulu that if she wanted a divorce, they were going to need to do it the right way – to split everything. “But no, she wanted it all… And that’s where things get rough.” Lulu started to play dirty, turning the divorce into a twisted game.
According to Sosa, Lulu told the sponsors of his non-profit that he was embezzling money. With that, they dropped Young Prospects and forced the group to close. But those weren’t the only lies she told in her attempt to ruin him.
Lies, Lies, Lies
Lulu also told her friends and massage clients that Sosa was abusive towards her. His relatives, including his mom and grown daughter, stated that they never witnessed him hitting anyone in the family, including Lulu.
Investigators later confirmed that they found no evidence to suggest embezzlement in Young Prospects, nor did they have any reason to believe that Sosa was abusing his wife. But Lulu was on a mission. She would even tell Mundo about Sosa’s “abuse.” Mundo tried his best to stay out of it.
Mundo Gets Dragged In
“Tried. Tried is a good word,” Mundo shared. “More like dragged into it.” Three months after Lulu filed the divorce, Mundo walked into the gym. Lulu was in the office with her teenage daughter, and Mundo could hear their conversation.
“They were having a talk regarding some kid that had been at the gym, about his uncle being some kind of killer down in Mexico.” He heard them say something about how this uncle “cuts up bodies.” Then Mundo walked into the office…
We Have a “Situation”
As soon as he walked in, he heard Lulu wonder out loud if this uncle could help “with our situation.” Mundo was no fool; he knew what “the situation” meant. He encouraged Lulu to confide in him. But she didn’t open her mouth that night.
She did start talking, however, the next morning. “I’m just tired. I’m frustrated,” she told Mundo. “I wish he would leave. I wish the cops would pick him up. I just wish somebody will make him disappear.” He recalls asking her in that moment, “What do you mean ‘disappear’?”
I Might Know a Guy
Mundo made a pistol sign with two fingers, to which Lulu replied, “Yeah.” Mundo, who looked up to Sosa like a dad, was “numb.” He knew what she wanted, and he couldn’t believe his ears. He had to vent, so he started his workout at the punching bag.
But instead of hitting it hard like he normally did, he barely tapped it. He was simply too distracted. He gave one last measly punch and walked back into the office. “I might know somebody,” he told Lulu.
Paco was “the guy.” He was looked up to so much that his face was painted on a mural that was at least two stories high. Paco and his boy, John Boy, were the men Mundo ended up contacting. Well, that was the story he concocted for Lulu.
Before you start cursing Mundo under your breath as you read this, you should know that this is the twist to the strange but true story of Ramon Sosa and his wife. As soon as Mundo walked out of the gym that night, he made a call.
The Twist to the Story
He didn’t call Paco. Instead, he called Sosa to tell him Lulu’s plans. He warned his dear friend: “This lady wants to kill you.” Sosa responded with “Shut the f*** up… Stop playing. Don’t play like that.” But Mundo wasn’t just some innocent kid.
He knew what he was talking about. He told Sosa, “I’ve seen that look in people that want to kill before, and this lady wants to kill you.” Sosa was in shock. He was furious and at a loss about what he should do next.
Mundo Had a Plan
Mundo told Sosa what to do. He said, “Look, you’re going to play the hit man.” He told Sosa to buy another phone – a “throwaway.” This phone would be played off as one that belongs to Paco. The plan was to go down like this…
Mundo would relay a message on “Paco’s phone” that, for the right price, Paco would be up for the murder-for-hire. As it panned out in reality, Lulu watched as Mundo texted the phone with her offer: $1,000 cash and Sosa’s pickup truck.
The Wheels Were in Motion
Mundo: “Paco I’m here with the Patrona … y’all guys take a truck and 1g after job done? 07 white single cab 20-inch rims Si o No?”
“Paco”: “I talked with johnboy n its all good homi just need the tools.”
And just like that, the staged hit was set.
Mundo purposely chose the name “Paco.” No, he wasn’t some actual gangster with his face on a wall. He was, however, a character in the 1993 crime drama Blood in Blood Out about three “Chicanos” living the thug life in Los Angeles. (Paco was played by Benjamin Bratt.)
The Cryptic Message Went Right Over Her Head
Paco was an undercover cop, though. It went right over Lulu’s head, who must have never seen the movie. “It was cryptic,” Mundo said. “But you know, it just felt right.” He started to secretly record his conversations with Lulu.
In one recording, she’s heard sorting through Sosa’s watch collection. “A golden one, a Bulova,” she said in Spanish. “And a black one, which is a Fossil.” The watches and some other cheap jewelry, along with an additional $500 cash, were used as her down payment.
He Ain’t No Rat
Just before Independence Day weekend, Lulu handed Mundo 100 bucks for “Paco” to buy a stolen gun. Now with the cash in their hands, Sosa and Mundo agreed that Sosa would be the one to go to the police. But Sosa wanted Mundo to come with him.
The former gang member had sworn never to talk to the police about anything, so this wasn’t such an easy move for him. “Even if I try to make people understand that it’s to save my friend’s life,” Mundo explained, “it’s still seen as snitching. Ratting.”
She Wanted Him Muerta
In the interrogation room, the detective asked Mundo, “Has she specifically used the word ‘dead’?” Mundo said yes, pointing to the text message on his phone which read “Muerta.” It took him over an hour to tell the detectives the whole story.
He showed them the cash, the recordings, the text messages Lulu had sent to his phone. He told them of his criminal past and why that was the reason she chose to talk to him. He also told them that just being there is breaking “a major code,” he said, and that because of it, “There will be consequences.”
The Kid Was Telling the Truth
Lieutenant Mike Atkins did his research. He listened to what Mundo said and looked into Lulu’s complaints about Sosa. He also saw that although Mundo had a violent past, there was no recent activity. He believed Mundo’s story.
“His coming in this office, under his own free will, showed a lot of character,” Atkins shared. He asked Mundo to keep recording Lulu, to which Mundo reluctantly agreed. Everyone, except for Lulu, wanted to keep Sosa alive. Mundo recorded a total of 12 conversations, all in Spanish, over three weeks.
The Motive Is Established
In on recording, Lulu complains that she won’t get any alimony – that she’s running out of cash. “That f***er hasn’t given me a single penny since February… Nothing!” In other words, her motive was being established.
She even said these incriminating words: “They better kill him before the 22nd. That way I’ll have insurance for life, a pension for life. My life will be all figured out. Mundo, do you know what I’m saying?” She concluded with, “This is my retirement, Mundo. His life is my retirement.”
Mundo: “So from here until the court date, do you want to have him killed?”
Mundo offered her the chance to scrap the whole thing. But she refused.
“It’s a decision I already made,” Lulu said in one of the recordings. “If I say it, I do it.”
Fast forward to the big day – showtime – the murder-for-hire is about to take place. The hidden camera captures the side of a car with the words “Woodlands Boxing” on the door. Lulu is in the driver’s seat.
No Beating. No Message
Mundo, wearing the hidden camera, tells Lulu to get out of her car and meet Paco, who’s sitting in a pickup truck nearby. Paco is an undercover cop, but she didn’t know that as she climbed into his truck. “Paco” asks her, in Spanish, “What’s up?”
He asked her what she wants – for Sosa to be beaten up? “No. No beating,” Lulu said without hesitation. “I want him dead.” Did she want to give him a last message? No. “For me, it is better if he is dead than for him to continue screwing up my life,” she told the cop.
The Moment of Truth
Atkins was watching from another undercover car as Lulu handed him the cash. “I was struck by the lack of emotion,” Atkins shared. “When you deal with someone who has no emotion, shows no empathy, no sympathy, those are truly, truly dangerous individuals.”
Mundo and Lulu shook hands and she pulled him in for a hug. Mundo held on for a few more seconds “because I knew what time it was.” He knew very well what was about to go down in a mere matter of seconds…
Halloween Makeup and a Fake Burial
The officers reportedly knew how to fake Sosa’s death after watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. They bought corn syrup and food coloring for the blood and borrowed a makeup kit normally used for disaster drills.
It was “Halloween stuff they used for kids,” Sosa said. It looked amateurish, but the officers did it right. Why the staged burial? Sosa said Atkins told him that they needed it to be “a slam-dunk case.” While they had enough evidence to arrest Lulu, they worried a jury might feel sorry for a beautiful lady with no police record.
How Did It Come to This?
With the right goal in mind, Sosa found himself on the floor of an SUV being driven by officers to a restricted dumpsite. It was there that they dug the waist-deep grave. “It was eerie,” Sosa described. He had to sit there, with his eyes closed, wondering how the hell he got himself into this mess.
It could have been a simple divorce, he thought to himself. It was right then and there that he realized she never loved him. Then, on July 22, Lulu climbed back into Paco’s truck,” this time with two hidden cameras locked on her face.
No Emotion. Just Laughs
The footage shows her as the officer tells her, in Spanish: “We got him in the morning.” Lulu had no visible reaction. She just said, “I’ve got $1,000.” The undercover cop showed her his phone with the staged photo of a dead Sosa in the grave.
“What do you think?” he asked her. Still no emotion. She wanted details, though, which the cop gave her. He told her Sosa fought for his life – that he didn’t want to die. He told her, “He won’t get up anymore.” That’s when Lulu started laughing. “That was bone-chilling,” Atkins revealed.
20 Years and Not Even a Glance
The next morning, as Sosa was in hiding, officers walked into the gym. They told Lulu about a missing person report for her husband. Of course, she told them she hadn’t seen him. “So, we have her lying to us immediately,” Atkins said.
As she was being arrested, she told police she wouldn’t speak without her lawyer. She was taken immediately to jail. 15 months later, in October 2016, she pleaded guilty to solicitation of capital murder. She never even so much as glanced over at Sosa as the judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison.
Mundo Faces the Consequences
None of her relatives ever spoke publicly in her defense. Now 45, Lulu sits in a state prison in Gatesville, Texas. As for Sosa, he had to declare bankruptcy and was forced to move out of his house and leave behind the gym he was once the star of.
Since the case was widely covered by Houston’s media, Mundo was outed, as well as the undercover cop who “played” Paco. Their faces were seen on television and Mundo’s legal name was revealed. The constable’s office finally got involved and pulled the story off the internet. But it was too late.
My Son Mundo
“It was like a wave, man,” Mundo said with a sigh. Those consequences he spoke of in that interrogation room with Atkins? They started happening now. Mundo was getting threats of home invasion, threats against his life and his wife’s, against their kids and other family members who still live in his old neighborhood.
“Everybody’s alive,” he reconciles. At least, for now, there is no blood on his hands. Mundo ended up writing a self-published a novel he titled My Son Mundo, based on his life. The book made him enough money to get his family out of Houston.
They Drifted Apart
Mundo has expressed anger and frustration over being left in the dark – left to fend for himself – after putting his life on the line to save his friend. When Sosa, now 52, was asked about Mundo, he said they don’t talk as much as they used to. “We kind of drifted a little bit apart,” he said.
“He doesn’t understand that Lulu left me with a lot of debt.” But for Sosa, Mundo is always “up there, a priority. He’s very special to me. Very, very special.” Sosa is working his day job and still trains fighters. He lives in a small apartment. “This is all she left me with.”
It’s All That Matters
All of those watches and jewelry are in a storage unit. He says maybe one day he’ll have a bonfire. “You know, just burn everything.” He also said he’s not doing well – that he still has nightmares. He wondered out loud, in an interview, if Lulu had stepped on his foot intentionally that night when they first met.
As for Mundo, we can’t see his face nor know his true identity. But he knew the rules. He knew the consequences. “I saved my friend’s life. That’s all that matters.”