Marijuana Dispute Leads to Cartel-Style Mass Shooting north of Adelanto; 6 Bodies Found, 5 men arrested – VVNG.com

Unincorporated Adelanto, Calif. (VVNG.com) – At a press conference on Monday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of 5 male adults on a multitude of charges in the aftermath of a cartel-style mass shooting event that left six dead in unincorporated Adelanto.

Several of the arrests were made on a compound of a marijuana growth facility that was being formed that wasn’t active yet. Authorities suspect that a conflict related to marijuana cultivation led to the murders.

This arrest came swiftly after the grim finding of six bodies in a remote part of El Mirage in the Mojave Desert last week.

Due to the remote location, California Highway Patrol Airship assisted deputies and conducted an extensive search. Once overhead the area, officers discovered a crime scene and what appeared to be multiple gunshot wound victims, two vehicles, and one of the vehicles had multiple gunshot strikes in it. The two vehicles were a Dodge Caravan and a Chevy Trailblazer.

The tragic discovery was initially made on the evening of January 23, 2024, when dispatchers received a 911 call from a subject who spoke Spanish. The caller told dispatchers he was shot but he did not know the location he was at, and it appeared the call ended.

Dispatchers tracked the phone via latitude and longitude coordinates to a remote area in the unincorporated area in the Adelanto area near Lessing Avenue.

The remote crime scene near Shadow Mountain Road and Lessing Avenue (shown in an interactive Google Map below) quickly became the center of an intense investigation, involving extensive air support from the CHP’s aviation division.

All six were deceased males; four males had been set on fire, a fifth male was found in the Chevy Trail Blazer, and the sixth male was found a short distance away. All were killed by apparent gunfire.

Through extensive investigation, investigators determined the victims had arranged to meet at the location for a marijuana transaction. 

Identified Individuals Affected:

  • Individual #1: Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran, a 34-year-old resident of Adelanto.
  • Individual #2: Franklin Noel Bonilla, a 22-year-old Hispanic male from Hesperia.
  • Individual #3: Kevin Dariel Bonilla, 25 years old, also a Hispanic male from Hesperia.
  • Individual #4: A Hispanic male adult, aged 45, whose identity is currently withheld until the notification of family members.

Unidentified Individuals:

  • The identities of Individuals #5 and #6 are currently unknown.

Investigators believe Franklin Bonilla was the subject who called 911 after being shot by the suspects.

“For all intense purposes, it looks like illicit marijuana was the driving force behind these murders and that’s all we really know at this point. I think we need to acknowledge why we’re here and why we’re talking about illicit marijuana,” Officials said at the press conference.

Just five days post-discovery of the gruesome scene, Law enforcement executed several search warrants in the High Desert cities of Apple Valley, Adelanto, and Pinon Hills which is located in Los Angeles County, and arrested five adult males. Authorities say they are confident they have all involved suspects.

Of those two arrested, The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Specialized Investigations Division, Homicide Detail, apprehended brothers Toniel Baez Duarte and Mateo Baez Duarte, residents of Apple Valley, according to their arrest records.

In a dramatic scene recounted by neighborhood eyewitness Deanne Rodarmel, a S.W.A.T. team from the local Sheriff’s Station announced demands over a loudspeaker in both English and Spanish for the brothers to come out of their residence unarmed. At the time of the announcement, the suspects were not present at the location.

The older of the two brothers, Toniel, 34, a laborer by trade, was captured around 2:00 pm near the Pearblossom Highway’s intersection with Highway 138 in Los Angeles County, not far from his home. He was booked at High Desert Detention Center without bail.

His brother Mateo, nine years his junior and self-employed, was detained around the same a short later in Adelanto.

Sheriff’s Spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez expressed that the remote desert location necessitated such support for locating the scene and the victims.

It certainly looks like it has the modeling of a cartel-related crime, officials confirmed.

Authorities said there were only two vehicles at the scene, one a blue Chevy Trail Blazer, an early 2000s model with Oregon plates, riddled with bullet holes, and a light-colored mini-van at the same intersection of the desolate desert dirt road.

While the High Desert D.C. has yet to release booking photos or case specifics and arraignment dates are still pending, and all are being held without bail.

In a surprising turn of events, authorities disclosed connections between numerous “body dump” sites found in San Bernardino County and unlawful marijuana farming, highlighting an issue that has received little public attention.

Stay with us for the latest on this ongoing investigation and visit VVNG.com for real-time updates.

RELATED ARTICLES:

READ: San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Announces Arrests After Six Bodies Found in El Mirage

READ: Update: Six Bodies Found in Remote Desert Location Near Highway 395 in El Mirage

READ: UPDATED: Six Bodies Found Near Highway 395 near Adelanto; Investigation Underway

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