Sun. May 26th, 2024

Ariz. man convicted of killing 4 as retribution for cutting accomplice out of drug cartel

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May14,2024

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (TCD) — A 33-year-old man faces up to life in prison for fatally shooting four men, lighting three of their bodies on fire, and recording the fourth man’s killing in an attempt to take over a local drug business.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced April 29 that a jury found Phoenix resident Raul Gastellum Flores guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, four special circumstances of murder during the commission of a robbery, and four special circumstances of multiple murders.

Flores’ accomplice, Rosario Roman-Lopez, reportedly asked him to kill brothers Edgar Berrelleza and Joel Berrelleza because they supposedly “cut him out of their drug dealing business run by the Sinaloa Cartel.”

Flores then traveled from Phoenix to Orange County with several AK-47s and other guns to take tens of thousands of dollars from the brothers and kill them if they refused to pay Roman-Lopez.

On Nov. 9, 2015, at around 2 p.m., Orange Police Department officers were called to Oakmont Street about an SUV on fire. Nearby residents reportedly attempted to put the blaze out with garden hoses. Firefighters arrived on scene and extinguished the flames, then discovered three victims inside the vehicle.

According to the statement, two men were killed in the back seat of the car, while the third was in the front passenger seat. One victim, Fernando Meza, had been stabbed while his hands were bound behind his back. The two other men, Edgar Berrelleza and Antonio Medina, were shot in the head. Berrelleza also sustained a gunshot wound to the back.

Surveillance video reportedly showed a suspect jumping out of the vehicle before he set it on fire and getting into a waiting car.

Meza was reportedly still alive when the car caught fire, which was evidenced by soot found in his lungs.

The district attorney’s office said Flores and other accomplices went to an apartment in Orange, “where they intercepted Medina, Meza, and Edgar Berrelleza by holding them up at gunpoint and forcing their way into the car.”

Flores contacted Roman-Lopez, who told Flores “he knew what needed to be done.”

Roman-Lopez and his accomplices reportedly kidnapped Joel Berrelleza around the same time. Flores drove to Joel Berrelleza’s apartment and “forced Joel Berrelleza into his Pontiac where he was shot three times as they drove and recorded his dying breaths on a cellphone.”

Joel Berrelleza’s body was discovered six days later when a resident contacted police to say he noticed a man sleeping in his car.

Two other men are reportedly wanted for their alleged roles in the killing. Roman-Lopez “is believed to have been murdered in Mexico in retribution for the murders.”

Flores will be sentenced in July.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said following the verdict, “These murders were calculated to inflict the maximum amount of terror not only on their victims, but also on the neighbors and first responders who had to witness the absolute horror that was unleashed on their neighborhood.”

He added, “This was someone who took absolute pleasure in carrying out these killings.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Ariz. man convicted of killing 4 as retribution for cutting accomplice out of drug cartel”
  1. I am shocked by the gruesome details of this case. It’s horrifying to think that someone could commit such heinous acts in the name of a drug cartel. Justice must be served for the victims and their families.

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