Crime News Local News Washington

22-Year-Old Drug Cartel Member Shot and Buried Pregnant Witness in Desert in Yakima so that they could not Testify in San Diego Court

22-Year-Old Drug Cartel Member Shot and Buried Pregnant Witness in Desert in Yakima so that they could not Testify in San Diego Court

Yakima, WA: An individual accused of leading a drug-trafficking group that utilized stolen luxury vehicles and San Diego border crossings to bring drugs from Mexico has been accused of killing two witnesses, one of whom was a pregnant mother of three, in order to stop them from testifying in drug cases in San Diego.

Benjamin Madrigal-Birrueta, a 22-year-old resident of Yakima, Wash., has been indicted on 15 federal charges in San Diego for alleged murders, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. The charges involve two counts of first-degree murder in connection with witness tampering and two counts of murder to advance a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Madrigal-Birrueta entered a plea of not guilty to the charges on Tuesday in San Diego federal court. The document suggests that a minimum of one accomplice, and possibly up to three, were involved in the killings.

Madrigal-Birrueta and an accomplice are charged with the murder of Cesar Armando Murillo, a father of two, and Maira Sofia Hernandez, a mother of three who was six months pregnant at the time of her death. Residents of Yakima vanish after federal agents interview them about drug-trafficking probe

Teens allegedly brought a fully Automatic Handgun to a physical altercation near Sprinker Rec Center in Pierce County, Washington

After over a year of being missing, officials found their bodies buried in the high desert near Yakima using ground penetrating radar and advanced technology. According to autopsy reports, prosecutors revealed that both individuals had sustained two gunshot wounds to the head.

Last year, Madrigal-Birrueta reportedly confessed to investigators that he shot Murillo, stating it was in self-defense, as per prosecutors. He reportedly stated that he was there when Hernandez was shot, but he claimed that another person fired the gun.

Ricardo Orizaba, a 21-year-old Yakima resident, faces charges in connection with a murder case. Both individuals are currently in custody, according to prosecutors.

On Tuesday, prosecutors submitted a document outlining the main accusations against Madrigal-Birrueta. In the summer of 2021, special agents from Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego initiated an investigation into a smuggling operation transporting methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine from Mexico into the U.S. through San Diego ports of entry.

Based on information from various connected cases, individuals in the group were involved in stealing recent luxury vehicles like a 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor, a 2020 Ford Mustang, and a 2021 Acura RDX SUV in the United States. The stolen vehicles were then transported to Mexico, where the VIN numbers were altered. Afterward, the group would pack the vehicles with drugs and transport them across the border.

According to prosecutors, Madrigal-Birrueta is accused of being connected to the drugs found in multiple vehicles over an 11-month span in 2021 and 2022. They claim that phone records and his own statements tie him to the seizures.

In August 2022, Homeland Security Investigations agents suspected that a Yakima group was behind the drug-filled stolen vehicles discovered at the border. It was discovered that Murillo and Hernandez had a connection to the group through wire transfers and vehicle registrations.

Agents interviewed the pair on back-to-back days at the end of August. A few weeks later, in early September, agents returned with a pair of warrants to search a Yakima residence and a ranch outside the city. Dozens of firearms, including high-powered rifles and a machine gun, were found by the agents, but Murillo and Hernandez were nowhere to be found.

In early 2023, federal authorities in Oregon issued a warrant for Madrigal-Birrueta’s arrest in connection with a 2021 highway traffic stop where he was a passenger in a car carrying over 55 pounds of methamphetamine. Madrigal-Birrueta was apprehended by law enforcement officials in early April in or near Fresno.

According to prosecutors, Madrigal-Birrueta confessed to supervising smugglers apprehended at the San Diego-Tijuana border and other locations on the day of his arrest. He purportedly confessed to shooting Murillo, stating it was in self defense, and saw Hernandez being shot. He informed agents that he buried their bodies at the high-desert ranch where they had previously executed the warrant.

Prosecutors stated that Murillo suffered multiple chest wounds and two head wounds. “Hernandez suffered two head injuries and had a bullet stuck in her lung.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *