Gruesome California desert murders: 5 arrested in deaths of 6 people over marijuana dispute, sheriff says

Gruesome California desert murders: 5 arrested in deaths of 6 people over marijuana dispute, sheriff says

Five people have been arrested in connection with the discovery of six people found dead near a dirt road last week in a remote part of a Southern California desert.

The victims were shot and killed during what investigators believe was a dispute over marijuana, authorities said during a Monday evening news conference. The suspects were identified as Toniel Baez-Duarte, 34; Mateo Baez-Duarte, 24; Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, 33; Jose Gregorio Hernandez-Sarabia, 34; 26-year-old Jose Manuel Burgos Parra.

The arrests came nearly a week after the six bodies were found along a highway in El Mirage, located about 50 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

A caller who spoke Spanish phoned 911 on the evening of Jan. 23 saying he'd been shot but didn't know his location, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Warrick told reporters.

FOUR PEOPLE KILLED IN LOS ANGELES MURDER-SUICIDE SHOOTING: POLICE

San Bernardino sheriff's department officials investigate scene where five were found dead in a remote area of San Bernardino county
San Bernardino sheriff's department officials investigate scene where five were found dead in a remote area of San Bernardino county north of Adelato January 24, 2024.

Dispatchers tracked the phone via its latitude and longitude coordinates to a remote area near Adelanto. Because of the remote location, the sheriff's department requested assistance from the California Highway Patrol, who lent an airship to their search for the scene.

READ ON THE FOX NEWS APP

"Once overhead the area, officers discovered a crime scene and what appeared to be multiple gunshot wound victims, two vehicles and one of the vehicles," Warrick said.

Once at the crime scene, authorities found the victims and two vehicles – a Dodge Caravan and a Chevy Trailblazer. One of the vehicles had multiple gunshot strikes, authorities said.

Four males with severe burns were also found dead. A fifth male was found dead inside the trailblazer and a sixth male was found a short distance away with gunshot wounds. The last victim was found the following morning.

All six had been shot and four were burned at the scene, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said.

"It looks like illicit marijuana was the driving force behind these murders," he said.

Mugshots of five men accused in killings
Toniel Baez-Duarte, 34; Mateo Baez-Duarte, 24; Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, 33; Jose Gregorio Hernandez-Sarabia, 34; 26-year-old Jose Manuel Burgos Parra have been arrested in connection to the killing of six people found in a California desert last week in what investigators believe was a dispute over marijuana.

Investigators don't believe any other suspects are connected to the killings. The five men are being held with no bail.

Three of the victims were identified at a Monday evening press conference. A fourth has been identified but investigators are working to inform next of kin before disclosing the name. Some may be Honduran citizens, authorities said.

The three victims identified were Baldomar Mondragon Albaron, 34; Franklin Noel Bonilla, 22; and 25-year-old Kevin Darial Bonilla. The fourth is a 45-year-old man. The fifth and sixth victims have not been identified.

Warrick said they believed Franklin Bonilla was the one who'd called 911.

San Bernardino sheriff's department officials investigate scene where five were found dead in a remote area of San Bernardino county
San Bernardino sheriff's department officials investigate scene where five were found dead in a remote area of San Bernardino County north of Adelato January 24, 2024.

Dicus said his deputies have served multiple warrants in the area where the bodies were discovered, which is known for growing marijuana.

He criticized Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis for non-medical use for people 21 and over and also reduced the penalty for marijuana-related offenses.

"The reality of this is, by allowing that we've unleashed a plague that is the black market of marijuana and cartel activity and a number of victims," Dicus said.


Original article source: Gruesome California desert murders: 5 arrested in deaths of 6 people over marijuana dispute, sheriff says