Five Caught in Mojave Desert Probe

( – Five suspects were arrested Jan. 28 in connection with the investigation into the six bodies found Jan. 23 in the Mojave Desert outside El Mirage in Southern California.

According to sheriff’s officials, it appears the six people were killed because of an argument over marijuana. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Warrick stated that five of the bodies were located at a remote dirt crossroads after they received a 911 call from a man speaking Spanish stating he had been shot. Warrick said that four of the victims were found partially burned together, and a fifth was found in a Chevy Trailblazer. Authorities located the sixth body nearby on Jan. 24.

Four of the victims have been identified as Kevin Dariel Bonilla, 25, Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran, 34, and Franklin Noel Bonilla, 22, who Warrick said police believe is the man who called 911. The fourth victim identified is a 45-year-old man whose name has not yet been released.

Officials said the “level of violence” discovered at the scene is “reminiscent of a drug cartel.” However, investigators are not able to confirm that drug cartels were involved.

Sheriff Shannon Dicus said it appeared “the driving force” behind the six murders was marijuana, adding that the area where the murders occurred is known for illegal growing operations.

The five men were arrested in connection with the murders after authorities served search warrants in the neighborhood of Pinyon Hills in Los Angeles County and the Adelanto and Apple Valley areas in San Bernardino County. Deputies seized eight firearms when serving the search warrants. All five men, who range in age from 24-34, were held without bail.

Even though recreational marijuana was legalized by California voters in 2016, there is still an illegal black market for marijuana. Dicus described the illegal black market for marijuana as “a plague,” which results in violence. He asked lawmakers to reform the current laws to “keep legalization” but asked they “revert to harsher penalties for users of illegal pot.”

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