Sheriff Reveals Key Details In Mass Desert Killing

The San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Office said last week that the bodies of six men who were found in the Mojave Desert were likely shot to death in a drug dispute, the Associated Press reported.

Sheriff’s deputies found the bodies on Tuesday, January 30 outside of El Mirage after receiving a 911 call from a Spanish-speaking individual who said he had been shot, according to San Bernadino Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Warrick.

Warrick told reporters in a press conference that all six victims were likely shot and four had been partially burned. A fifth victim was found inside a vehicle and the sixth victim was discovered the following day nearby.

Sheriff Shannon Dicus told reporters that “illicit marijuana” was the likely “driving force” behind the killings, noting that the area is known to have illegal growing operations.

While investigators would not confirm that drug cartels were involved in the murders, they did say that the “level of violence” at the scene was reminiscent of cartels.

Five men had been arrested on Sunday, January 28 when deputies served search warrants at multiple locations in San Bernadino County and Pinyon Hills in Los Angeles County. According to Sgt. Warrick investigators believe that the men arrested are likely responsible for the murders.

All five suspects are being held without bail.

Four of the victims had been identified and the medical examiner was still trying to identify the other two.

According to Sgt. Warrick, one of the victims identified, 22-year-old Franklin Noel Bonilla, was likely the individual who called 911.

The other victims were identified as 25-year-old Kevin Dariel Bonilla of Hesperia, 34-year-old Baldemar Mondragon-Albarran of Adelanto, and a 45-year-old man whose name was withheld pending notification of his family.

In 2020, seven people were shot to death at an illegal growing operation in nearby Riverside County where over 20 people were using several makeshift dwells to produce the potent cannabis concentrate known as honey oil.