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San Bernardino County DA Files Charges in Mass Murder Case Linked to Illegal Marijuana Operations in Mojave Desert

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY (VVNG.com) – On January 30, 2024, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office escalated its legal response, indicting five men in relation to a chilling mass murder case that unfolded in the desolate stretches near Adelanto.

The victims were discovered on January 23 following a distress call by Franklin Bonilla who, despite quickly contacting 911 for help, died from gunshot wounds. The subsequent investigation by the Sheriff’s Specialized Investigations Division Homicide Detail culminated in the apprehension of five individuals just five days later.

Comprehensive Charges Asserted

The Major Crimes Unit of the DA’s Office laid out a series of grave charges against the suspects: Toniel Baez-Duarte, aged 35, and Jose Nicolas Hernandez-Sarabia, 33, were met with six counts of first-degree murder, and multiple charges of robbery, with Hernandez-Sarabia facing additional allegations regarding firearm use in commission of the crimes.

Similarly, Mateo Beaz Duarte, 24, is confronted with charges echoing those of Hernandez-Sarabia, with a focus on the murder, robbery, and firearm-related counts. Jose Gregorgio Hernandez-Sarabia, 36, and Jose Manuel Burgos Parra, 26, face corresponding charges for their alleged involvement in the violent acts.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson made a direct connection between the mass murder and the broader issue of illegal marijuana cultivation, firmly stating, “This mass murder, done in a dark secluded desert, clearly illuminates the violence and crime that exists as a direct consequence of illegal marijuana operations.”

With these latest charges, the DA’s Office aims to underline the severity of crimes linked to illegal marijuana trade and its associated violence.

At a prior press conference, Sheriff Shannon Dicus said these types of violent crimes reflect a growing concern about the ramifications of Proposition 64 and the need to give law enforcement the means to effectively combat such criminal activities.

In a comprehensive crackdown over the past year, law enforcement’s specialized units targeted illegal cannabis operations with resolute action. Their efforts culminated in the execution of 411 search warrants related to unlawful cultivation. The sweep unearthed 14 laboratories engaged in the production of honey oil, 655,000 cannabis plants, 74,000 pounds of ready-to-market processed cannabis, and 370 million dollars.

Sheriff Dicus highlighted the concerted enforcement in the vicinity of recent violent incidents. “During that period of time our teams served 11 search warrants in the immediate area where the murders took place. They served approximately 40 search warrants to the west of that area that we call the Shadow Mountain Area. So this is an area known for illicit marijuana.” he reported. These statistics were part of the crucial updates provided at yesterday’s conference.

“Go look at our desert, its compiled with trash that’s left over, and a very small water source that’s available to the public has been tapped into. Look at this law through the lens of this case, with the statistics I provided,” Dicus said, adding, “and then please research the other counties across the state of California, they have the exact same problem.”

The five suspects remain detained without bail, awaiting further legal proceedings in the Victorville Courthouse.

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