A man has been arrested on connection with a triple shooting that left a teenager and a young man dead in the Morongo Valley almost 25 years ago, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday.
Two of the victims — 17-year-old Jesus Munoz and 24-year-old Portirio Chavez Cardenas, both of Los Angeles — were found slain in a van that was stopped in the middle of Highway 22 west of Rawson Road on the night of April 14, 1994, according to a sheriff’s news release.
A third victim, 22-year-old Enrique Munoz — also of Los Angeles — had been shot multiple times but survived.
During the initial investigation, detectives learned the victims had been summoned by one of the suspects to a home in the Coachella Valley, where they were assaulted and forced into the vehicle, according to the release.
The van traveled to a dirt road in the Morongo Valley where all three males were shot multiple times, investigators said. The suspects then left the scene.
Though wounded, Enrique Munoz managed to drive the van onto Highway 62, where the victims were ultimately discovered by law enforcement personnel.
Authorities identified the suspects as Mario Montes Banuelos and Noe Montes Banuelos and issued warrants for their arrests. However, both men were believed to have fled to Mexico.
In July 2018, detectives received information from the U.S. Marshall’s Service Fugitive Task Force that Banuelos had been fatally shot in Sonora, Mexico.
Then, last week investigators learned that Mario Montes Banuelos — now 49 years old — had been taken into custody at a border crossing in Yuma, Arizona, on Jan. 19, according to the release.
After Banuelos waived extradition, San Bernardino County authorities travelled to Arizona and took him into custody.
He was booked on suspicion of murder and attempted murder at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino, authorities said. Banuelos is being held without bail.
His first scheduled court appearance is next Wednesday.
Anyone with information about the cold case is asked to call Detective Art Alvarado at 909-387-3589. Anonymous tips can also be left by calling 1-800-782-7463 or going to the website www.wetip.com.