SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two leaders of the Mexican drug trafficking gang known as Los Palillos participated in several kidnappings, nine murders and other crimes in San Diego County between 2004 to 2007, a prosecutor said Thursday.
After more than six months of testimony, Deputy District Attorney Mark Amador began the prosecution's closing argument in the trial of 34-year-old Jorge Rojas Lopez and 33-year-old Juan Estrada Gonzalez.
Rojas Lopez is charged in nine murders; Estrada-Gonzalez in six. They each face the death penalty if convicted.
"This unprecedented carnage and savagery cannot stand," Amador told the jury.
After the Arellano Felix drug organization killed Rojas Lopez's brother in 2002, he and other members of Los Palillos fled Mexico and set up their drug-running operation in Kansas City and San Diego, Amador said.
The prosecutor said the members of Los Palillos were "cold, calculated, hard men" who committed evil deeds in San Diego County, including shooting at a Chula Vista police officer and murdering two men on a ranch in San Ysidro, then dissolving their bodies in acid.
"They are not the victims," Amador said of the gang members. "They're all killers."
Amador said the defendants were motivated by "greed and revenge."
The "beginning of the end" for Rojas Lopez and Estrada Gonzalez came on June 16, 2007, when they and three fellow members of their gang were arrested after they kidnapped a wealthy businessman and held him for ransom at a Chula Vista residence for eight days, Amador said.
Rojas Lopez told the kidnapped victim's wife that she needed to come up with the ransom money if she wanted to see her husband again.
"If not, I will send him in pieces to your doorstep," Rojas Lopez told the woman, according to Amador.
Rojas Lopez said the Arellano Felix Organization kidnapped and killed in Mexico, "but I have the balls to do it here," according to Amador.
Amador said Rojas Lopez was one of four Los Palillos gang members who in 2004 lured three friends to a home in southern San Diego and eventually killed them. The victims, who were Tijuana residents, were shot and asphyxiated by having socks stuffed down their throats, Amador said. He said one of the victims had ties to drug trafficking.
Amador said both Rojas Lopez and Estrada Gonzalez participated in the August 2005 murder of a 22-year-old low-level drug dealer who was tied up, beaten, stomped or punched and dumped along a road in Chula Vista.
Two weeks later, a man was kidnapped, beaten with a police-type battering ram and killed in Bonita, the prosecutor said. Both Rojas Lopez and Estrada-Gonzalez are charged in that crime.
The defendants are already serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole after being convicted of kidnapping and other crimes. Closing arguments are expected to last several days.
Tyson Ross lost his bid to pitch the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres' history when center fielder Franchy Cordero appeared to misplay a ball with two outs in the eighth inning Friday night of a 4-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A fifth-grade teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District has been arrested for allegedly distributing pornographic images of young girls, including a toddler, authorities announced Friday.
A tragic car crash left a Mount Carmel High School student paralyzed from the chest down, and now, the community is rallying to support him.
New surveillance video shows what happened moments before a car plunged into a sinkhole in East County Monday night.
The San Diego County unemployment rate dropped three- tenths of a percent to 3.2 percent in March as the region continued to add jobs following the holiday season, according to data released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
San Diego County is generally safer than the U.S. as a whole, though elder abuse and several types of violent crime are on the rise locally, according to a report released Friday,
Described as “Etsy comes to life,” the popular urban-style handmade market is feminine and fun, hosting vendors who make their products by hand. This will be the 24th Queen Bee Market since its creation in 2010.
Described as “Etsy comes to life,” the popular urban-style handmade market is feminine and fun, hosting vendors who make their products by hand. This will be the 24th Queen Bee Market since its creation in 2010. News 8's Ashley Jacobs takes you inside Bing Crosby Hall for a sneak peek at what artisans are showcasing.