TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — In a joint press conference Thursday, state and local officials announced the arrest of suspects said to be involved in the 2020 deaths of three teens in Visalia.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward, and Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Sanchez were on-hand to announce the arrests of Mark Aceves, 20, Cesar Lopez, 19, and Abraham Molina, 20 on charges related to the deaths of three teens in Visalia in 2020.
Police say all three men are gang members or associates.
According to detectives, the investigation into the shooting led to the discovery of a “criminal enterprise operating across state lines and into the country of Mexico.” Investigators say they learned that area gang members and associates were bringing guns from Texas and paying for the weapons with drugs including meth and cocaine obtained from Mexican traffickers. Detectives say the weapons and drugs were being shipped using the US Postal Service.
With that information, law enforcement agencies were able to seize 18 firearms and 20 pounds of cocaine.
“I am grateful that this investigation has led to the arrests of suspects involved in the May 2020 triple homicide of Jose Hernandez-Peña, Isaiah Rule, and Blake Medeiros and that this will begin to bring healing and justice to their families.” Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said. “I am also very proud of the hard work and dedication of the Visalia Police detectives who have worked so diligently on this case and to all of our law enforcement partners on this investigation for their contributions and resources to help bring justice to these families and to our community.”
The shooting occurred on May 5, 2020, at Golden West High School in Visalia where Jose Hernandez-Peña, 19, Isaiah Rule, 18, and Blake Medeiros, 19 were killed. The teenagers were found dead from gunshot wounds inside of a vehicle near the high school.
On Dec. 20, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a reward for information that helped lead to an arrest in the triple homicide.
“Law enforcement agencies may ask the Governor to issue rewards in certain unsolved cases where they have exhausted all investigative leads to encourage individuals with information about the crimes to come forward,” the Governor’s office wrote in a press release.
Officers say the Governor’s reward of $50,000 is still available for those with direct knowledge of the shooting. Those with information are asked to contact the Visalia Police Department at (559) 713-4234.