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3 Palmdale men held in Mexican cartel murder-for-hire case

February 17, 2011 |  6:46 pm

Three men were arrested Thursday in Palmdale in what authorities alleged was a foiled murder-for-hire plot directed by a ruthless Tijuana-based drug cartel.

The suspects are accused of being enforcers for the Arellano Felix Cartel and were planning to target victims in California who owed the cartel large amounts of money, which are believed to be the proceeds from drug sales, according to the California attorney general's office.

Two of the men were apprehended at a home in Palmdale, where state Department of Justice agents seized two AR-15 assault weapons, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and about $20,000 in cash. A third suspect was arrested later at a nearby Starbucks, authorities said.

The suspects were identified as Jorge Ernesto Sillas-Rocha, 27; Victor Manuel Magana Gonzalez, 24; and Daniel Ceballos, 34.

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said the arrests are a warning to other cartel operatives who may be considering committing crimes in the state. "Justice will be swift and certain when you cross into California," she said in a statement.


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-- Robert J. Lopez