Five Arrested in Negative Mojave Desert Investigation

( – San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies received a call about a wellness check on January 23. They headed to the scene and found six dead bodies in the Mojave Desert. They have now arrested five suspects.

According to reports, the deputies discovered five bodies after 8 p.m. at a remote crossroads in an area off of Highway 395 outside of El Mirage. Deputies found a sixth body the next morning. The New York Times reported that Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez told reporters the bodies were discovered in an area that’s so isolated the department reached out to California Highway Patrol’s Aviation Division.

The Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations were assisting with the case. Gloria Huerta wouldn’t tell reporters what condition the victims’ bodies were in. She said that she didn’t have enough information about it.

CBS News reported Sergeant Michael Warrick, a member of the homicide department, spoke at a press conference and said deputies went to the area after receiving a call from someone who was speaking Spanish. That person told law enforcement that they were shot, but he didn’t know where he was. The call ended before he could give his location, and deputies traced it to the area where the deceased individuals were found. Four of the victims were burned.

So far, only four of the victims have been identified. They were 25-year-old Kevin Dariel Bonilla, 34-year-old Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran, 22-year-old Franklin Noel Bonilla, and a 45-year-old man whose name was withheld while police notified his family.

On January 29, the sheriff’s department announced the arrests of five people the previous day. Sheriff Shannon Dicus stated there were no other suspects on the loose at that time. The sheriff said he could “guarantee” the deputies had the “five right people.” The suspects were identified as 34-year-old Toniel Baez-Duarte, 24-year-old Mateo Baez-Duarte, 26-year-old Jose Manuel Burgos Parra, 33-year-old Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, and 34-year-old Jose Gregorio Hernandez-Sarabia.

Authorities believe a dispute over marijuana led to the murders. The area is popular for illegal grow operations.

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