San Bernardino, California – Authorities in San Bernardino County, California, have arrested five individuals in connection with the deaths of six people in the high desert, suggesting a possible dispute over marijuana as the motive for the murders. The investigation was initiated by a 911 call from a Spanish-speaking individual seeking help for gunshot wounds. Despite the call being disconnected, the phone was tracked to a remote area in San Bernardino County, leading to the discovery of the victims with the assistance of the California Highway Patrol’s airship.
Sgt. Michael Warrick of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department stated that the murders appeared to be the result of a marijuana-related dispute, with the victims all suffering from fatal gunshot wounds and burn injuries. The victims were identified as Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran, Franklin Noel Bonilla, Kevin Dariel Bonilla, and three other unnamed individuals. The violent confrontations over illicit marijuana in San Bernardino County, particularly in the Shadow Mountains area of the Mojave Desert, have been a known issue, according to Sheriff-Coroner Shannon Dicus.
“While we cannot confirm if this case is related to cartel activities, it is not uncommon for violent confrontations to occur over illicit marijuana in San Bernardino County, especially in the Shadow Mountains area,” said Dicus. The suspects, identified as Toniel Baez-Duarte, Mateo Baez-Duarte, Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, Jose Gregorio Hernandez-Sarabia, and Jose Manuel Burgos Parra, are being held without bail in connection with the murders.
The bodies were found near Highway 395 in El Mirage, about 35 miles east of Lancaster in the Mojave Desert, with the crime scene featuring two vehicles, evidence markers, and shattered windows. The announcement of the arrests came a week after the bodies were discovered, shedding light on the disturbing and violent circumstances surrounding the deaths of the six individuals.