Two men charged with murder involving stolen pills with possible cartel connection: report
Two men have been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 19-year-old in New Mexico — a killing that may have been connected to a drug cartel.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies found the body of Ruben Gaytan Mendez on March 8 on federal land southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to arrest warrants obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Mendez’s body was unclothed. There was a stab wound on his chest and body parts were missing, according to affidavits obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Marlio “Rush” Araica, 28, and Ronnie “Bonz” Trujillo, 34, are accused of killing Mendez on March 3 when their attempt to punish him for stealing drugs turned fatal, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
Araica told deputies the drugs had belonged to “the cartel,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Police spokesman Juan Ríos did not confirm to the news group whether suspects in Mendez’s killing were in custody or if the sheriff’s office was concerned about Araica’s mention of a cartel, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
The sheriff’s office learned about Mendez’s murder from a friend of Trujillo’s who came forward in early June, telling deputies Trujillo had confided in them, according to documents obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Araica told deputies in an interview after Mendez was reported missing that he was at a hotel when Mendez stole drugs from a woman they both knew, Marisa Bowers. He said the drugs were on loan from “the cartel” and did not belong to the woman, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Mendez allegedly stole a bag of about 200 pills worth more than $1,000, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
Police say Bowers sent a message to Araica on March 3, asking him to beat up Mendez, but she didn’t want him killed, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
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Trujillo told police he and Araica met up with Mendez that night and got into his 2000 Chevrolet Suburban, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
“As I take off from Allsup’s, Rush starts fighting Ruben,” Trujillo told investigators, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. “[Araica] then tells me that [Mendez] is bleeding. I tell him to put pressure on it to stop the bleeding when [Araica] tells me that he ain’t breathing anymore.”
Trujillo said he panicked and drove to Camel Tracks to dump Mendez’s body, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. Araica allegedly undressed Mendez and later burned his car and all of his clothing, according to Trujillo.
He said they were supposed to “handle” Mendez by beating him for the drug dealer. Trujillo was paid five fentanyl pills, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
“Ronnie Trujillo and Marlio Araica told Ruben Mendez that they would not beat him up too bad if he just gave [the drugs] over,” Trujillo’s friend told police, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
The friend had a different version of events.
He said that when Mendez attempted to escape from the vehicle, Araica began to beat him, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Trujillo, who forgot he was holding a knife, reached into the back seat and tried to punch Mendez, but instead stabbed him in the chest, the friend said, according to the affidavits obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
When they arrived at the friend’s home and told him what happened, the friend said he made them leave, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
In addition to an open count of murder, Araica and Trujillo are each charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit murder, arson and tampering with evidence, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
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