DELHI -- Merced County sheriff's investigators made two more arrests in the murder of 27-year-old Rosa Alicia Avina and discovered about $83,000 of packaged marijuana.
Sheriff's detectives arrested Cirilo Alberto, 36, and Luis Vazquez, 18, at a home in the 16000 block of Oak Road in Delhi on Thursday. Investigators believe Vazquez is one of the men responsible for kidnapping Avina and burning her alive Oct. 24, according to Merced County sheriff's Detective Paul Barile.
While Alberto may not have been directly involved in Avina's death, investigators believe he is a member of the same midlevel drug trafficking organization that is responsible for her death, Barile said.
Barile said 55 pounds of packaged marijuana and a shotgun were discovered inside the residence where Vazquez and Alberto lived. Barile said the home was being used as a storage facility.
Earlier last week, the Sheriff's Department announced the arrest of five people in the death of Avina, who was bound, gagged and burned alive in retaliation for taking marijuana and an "eight ball" (one-eighth ounce) of crystal methamphetamine, drugs that had a street value of about $750.
Sheriff Mark Pazin said Avina was duped into going from Livingston to a house on Clifford Avenue in Turlock where a fake home invasion robbery was staged.
Avina was bound and taken to a remote South Avenue location in Ballico, doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire.
Barile said the home on Clifford Avenue was frequented by people to use and buy narcotics. "They wanted to send a message out to everybody that was going to be participating in their sales that you don't mess with this group and that if you do that, you die," he said.
Burned beyond recognition, Avina walked nearly a mile before collapsing. She died two days later in a burn unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Vazquez was booked on suspicion of murder, kidnapping, torture, mayhem and conspiracy. He remains in Merced County Jail in lieu of $1.7 million bail.
Alberto was booked on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and narcotics trafficking. He is free on bail, Barile said.
Suspects also arrested last week were Alvaro Montanez Reyes, 28, of Livingston; Omar Cebrero, 28, of Turlock; Luis A. Valencia, 24, of Delhi; and Urbano M. Ortega, 27, of Livingston, all of whom were booked on suspicion of murder, conspiracy, mayhem, torture and kidnapping. Renulfo M. Ortega, 23, of Livingston is being held as an accessory to murder and on a conspiracy charge and an unrelated narcotics warrant.