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Five arrested in deaths of six found murdered in desert: Sheriff

Law enforcement officials are shown at the scene where six bodies were found in San Bernadino County, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2024. (KABC-TV)

(LOS ANGELES) — Authorities say they have arrested five suspects after six people were found shot to death last week in a desert community in San Bernardino County, California.

At a press conference Monday night, authorities said multiple search warrants were served on Sunday in the case. Five suspects, whom authorities identified as Toniel Baez-Duarte, Mateo Baez-Duarte, Jose Nicolas Hernandez Sarabia, Jose Gregorio Hernandez Sarabia, and Jose Manuel Burgos Parra, were arrested, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials said.

All suspects are being held without bail. Eight guns were recovered during the arrests, authorities said Monday night.

Following an investigation, investigators believe the victims had arranged to meet for a marijuana transaction, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials said. The victims appear to have been involved in criminal activity, authorities said Monday night.

The victims were shot to death, and four of the six bodies were burned, according to officials. Only three of the victims have been identified by authorities: Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran, Franklin Noel Bonilla and Kevin Dariel Bonilla.

An official said there is a large, illegally grown marijuana problem in the area.

Last Tuesday night, Sheriff’s Dispatch received a 911 call around 8:16 p.m. PT from Franklin Noel Bonilla, who said he had been shot, authorities said Monday. He was unable to give his location.

Authorities were able to determine the call came from the area of Lessing Avenue and Shadow Mountain Road in Adelanto, California. Sheriff’s personnel responded and found five dead. A short while later, the caller — Bonilla — was also found deceased nearby.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had offered assistance to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation into the bodies found in the desert about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles, but local investigators are handling the case themselves.

A blue Chevy SUV was also seen riddled with bullet holes in the area where some of the bodies were found.

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