Arrests Made After 6 Bodies Discovered in Mojave Desert

( – The bodies of six men recovered by authorities in the Mojave Desert on Tuesday, January 23rd near a remote crossroads are likely to have been a result of a dispute over marijuana, according to officials. The San Bernadino County sheriff’s office has since arrested five men in connection with the shooting. The area, not far from El Mirage in Southern California, is known for illegal marijuana production, and authorities stated that the violence appeared to be of the sort commonly committed by cartels, although it is not yet confirmed which, if any, cartels are involved.

The bodies were found after one of the victims allegedly called 911 to report that he and others had been shot. 911 dispatchers were able to pinpoint the victim’s location by tracking the phone’s coordinates. Upon arriving at the scene, emergency services found two vehicles and six men all dead of gunshot wounds. Four of the bodies had been partially burnt, with officers finding the remnants of a fire at the scene. A fifth body was recovered from a nearby Chevy Trailblazer SUV, and another was found a short distance from the scene.

Five men between the ages of 26 and 36 years old were arrested on Sunday, January 28th, and have been named as Mateo and Toniel Baez-Duarte, Jose Gregorio and Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, and Jose Manuel Burgos Parras. Eight firearms have been confiscated and are being studied to determine whether or not they were used in the mass slaying.

While officers cannot yet confirm the involvement of cartels, they have stated their belief that the killings relate to organized crime. Despite California having legalized the sale and usage of marijuana since 2016, a large black market still exists as buyers are keen to purchase their drug of choice without additional taxes. In 2023 alone, the San Bernadino County sheriff’s office seized 74,000 lbs. of suspected illegal marijuana along with $370 million. Sheriff Shannon Dicus has called for California to update its existing marijuana laws to maintain the legal use of marijuana but more harshly punish those who deal with its illegal counterpart.

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