6 Men Found Dead in Mojave Desert Were Shot in Alleged Marijuana Dispute, Say Police

Five men have been arrested in connection with the homicide and four of the six victims have been identified

The six people found dead in California’s Mojave Desert last week were shot and killed in a dispute over marijuana, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

The six people found dead in California’s Mojave Desert last week were shot and killed in a dispute over marijuana, officials allege.

In a Monday press conference, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department revealed that five people were arrested in connection with the homicide, which followed an alleged dispute over the drug.

“We are confident that this appears to be a dispute over marijuana, which resulted in the murders,” said Sgt. Michael Warrick, who was in charge of the investigation.

The sheriff’s office could not yet comment on whether the deaths are related to cartel activity, but Sheriff Shannon Dicus said the homicide was connected to organized crime.

“For all intents and purposes it looks like illicit marijuana was the driving force behind these murders, and that’s all we really know at this point,” Dicus added.

Adelanto, CA - January 24: San Bernardino sheriff's department officials investigate scene where five were found dead in a remote area of SanBernardino county north of Adelato January 24, 2024.
Six men were found dead in the Mojave Desert on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24

Four of the victims were found with “severe burns,” but all six victims died of “apparent fatal gunshot injuries,” Warrick said.

The victims were discovered in the community of El Mirage, a remote area of the Mojave Desert, after one of the victims called 911 at about 8:16 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, the sergeant said.

The caller told dispatchers he had been shot but did not know his location. After police tracked the phone’s location, officers discovered the six victims in and around two vehicles.

Five of the bodies were found Tuesday night and the sixth was found the following morning.

“Our Sheriff’s homicide investigators assumed the investigation to process the scene and find those responsible for these heinous acts of violence,” Warrick said, adding that four of the six victims have now been identified.

The four identified victims are Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran, 34, Franklin Noel Bonilla, 22, Kevin Dariel Bonilla, 25, and a 45-year-old man whose identity is “still being withheld pending next of kin notification.”

The two unidentified victims are adult men, police confirmed.

The sheriff’s office also identified the five suspects 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.

The suspects were arrested after officers served search warrants Sunday. They are currently in custody with no bail pending the filing of charges.

It’s not clear if any of the suspects have retained attorneys.

“We are still conducting a follow-up investigation, but we are confident we have arrested all the suspects in this case,” Warrick said at the press conference.

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