5 suspects linked to bodies found in Southern California desert arrested


San Bernardino County Sheriff official says “illicit marijuana” seems to be “driving force” behind killings

A still image from a video showing law enforcement vehicles where several people were found fatally shot near El Mirage, California. — The New York Times via KTLA

Five suspects have been arrested in connection to six bodies found in a Southern California desert last week, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which are believed to be the result of a marijuana dispute.

The six bodies were discovered last week in the Mojave Desert near El Mirage, California, an unincorporated community about 50 miles northeast of Los Angeles County, USA Today reported.

Deputies were called to a crime scene off Highway 395 in El Mirage last week, where they found multiple gunshot wound victims and two vehicles, including one with multiple strikes, Sergeant Michael Warrick said.

Four of the victims had also sustained severe burns while a fifth victim was located in one of the vehicles, according to Warrick who added that the sixth victim was found a “short distance away” with a gunshot wound.

Authorities served multiple search warrants in San Bernardino County and near Los Angeles County following an extensive investigation, according to Warrick.

The department arrested five suspects who were identified as Toniel Baez-Duarte, 34; Mateo Baez-Duarte, 24; Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, 33; Jose Gregorio Hernandez-Sarabia, 34; and Jose Manuel Burgos Parra, 26.

“This is an area known for illicit marijuana,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said. “It looks like illicit marijuana was the driving force behind these murders.”

The investigation remains ongoing, according to Warrick.



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