Man with Ties to Mexican Drug Cartel Arrested in Madera County

Man with Ties to Mexican Drug Cartel Arrested in Madera County

Detectives arrested a Mexican national on two counts of attempted murder after a double shooting near Chowchilla last week. Investigators say it was a drug deal, with ties to the Mexican drug cartel, that turned into a botched robbery.
The Madera County's Sheriff's Office made a break in the case of a double shooting near Chowchilla last Thursday that critically injured a 17-year-old male and left a 22-year-old man with gunshot wounds to his face. 

Detectives arrested Elias Lopez-Martinez, a 25-year-old Mexican national from Oaxaca, on two counts of attempted murder. 

"He refused to speak to us. He knew three words of English--'I want an attorney.' That's the only thing he's told our investigators so far," said 
Madera County Sheriff John Anderson.

What started as an attempted drug deal turned into a botched robbery, Anderson said, describing what he called a highly unusual case for the county. 

The original story that victims gave police is that they were driving near Avenue 18 1/2 and Road 10 to meet a man about buying a horse. They said an unmarked truck with blue lights above the cab pulled them over. Two men impersonating police ordered the 22-year-old and two 17-year-olds to the ground and began shooting, Anderson said. 

One of the teens ran away uninjured, while the other teen was shot through the liver, Anderson said. 

The 22-year-old got into his car and was shot multiple times in the face. He drove away for about eight miles and called police. 

Police believed there was more to the story and went back to the location where they first came to the aid of the 22-year-old near Avenue 21 and Road 4.

Police followed a trail of blood, and underneath a bridge found $45,000 worth of meth inside a dog food bag.  The 22-year-old then told police there was supposed to be a drug deal, Anderson said. 

"The way this is wrapped, we know it came from Mexico, which involves Mexican drug cartels," Anderson said. 

Investigators identified Lopez-Martinez as their suspect. Having the description of the truck, they found him at a gas station at the corner of Highway 145 and Avenue 13.

Detectives served a search warrant for an apartment rented under his name and found one pound of meth, the guns used in the shooting--a rifle and a shotgun--and multiple items of police gear. 

Anderson said if it weren't for the shootings, they would not have known about this drug exchange that has connections to the Mexican drug cartel. 

"Semi-bad guys, really bad guys--that's where we are. These guys are dopers, these guys are shooters. Instead of coming out to the dope exchange, they didn't bring money, they brought guns," Anderson said. 

Investigators are still searching for the second person involved in the shooting. They do not have a name or any information for this person. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.
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