Investigators arrested three Arizona men Monday in connection with the fatal shooting of an Irvine man during what detectives described as a marijuana deal-turned-robbery at a Garden Grove home the previous afternoon.
Victor Rene Larios, 29, Jacob Alexander Ruiz, 24, and his cousin Joseph Anthony Ruiz, 27, all of Arizona, have been booked on suspicion of murder and other charges related to the killing, the Garden Grove Police Department said in a written statement.
Police responding to reports of a shooting shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday discovered Thien Hoang Phan, 32, of Irvine shot to death in the backyard of a home in the 9600 block of Westminster Avenue, police said.
“After further investigation, detectives learned this homicide was drug related and involved a marijuana sales transaction between the victim and the suspects,” according to the police statement. “All of the individuals were at the Garden Grove residence on Westminster Avenue to conduct the drug sales transaction when the shooting occurred.”
The three suspects had conducted business with the victim in the past, Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney said. But when they met Phan on Sunday afternoon, they robbed and shot him.
Investigators worked around the clock to identify the three suspect, Whitney said.
“Great detective work” led them to find the three men driving in Venice about 1:30 a.m. Monday, the lieutenant said.
Officers arrested the suspects without a struggle, Whitney said. Marijuana, cash and a handgun believed to have been used in the shooting were found during the investigation, he added.
Bail for Larios, Jacob Ruiz and Joseph Ruiz was set at $1 million each pending their initial court appearances, scheduled Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court, county booking records show.
Larios was arrested earlier this year in Maricopa County, Arizona, along with his brother, according to the West Valley View.
A SWAT team searched the brothers’ home and found an allegedly stolen AR-15 rifle, weapon accessories, body armor and ammunition, the newspaper reported. Both brothers were already barred from possessing weapons due to prior convictions.
The status of the Arizona case was not clear Monday
Sunday’s killing was the third drug-related killing in Garden Grove this year, Whitney said.
A 25-year-old man died on July 8 after he was shot during a home-invasion robbery by three masked robbers who were looking for cash and drugs, police said. The killers remain at large.
A courier shot and killed a man who he he claimed tried to rob him at a marijuana stash house on April 29, officials said. The shooter claimed self defense and was not arrested. Whitney said that shooting remains under review by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
HOMICIDE UPDATE: #GGPD32 Homicide #Detectives worked through the night following up on leads. At approx 1:30 am, they conducted a high-risk 🚘 stop on the susp veh. 3 male susps were taken into custody w/out incident. https://t.co/YOR9zreQvQ#GotEm@CityGardenGrove @GardenGrovePA pic.twitter.com/7UxrwuFdxO
— Garden Grove Police (@GardenGrovePD) August 6, 2019