California sheriff blames 'cartel-style shooting' on state's 'soft-on-crime approach'

A California sheriff is blaming the "cartel-style" murders of six people on what he says is the state's "soft-on-crime" approach to law and order.

A mother and her 10-month-old baby were among the six who died in the "execution-style" shootings Tuesday, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said.

Boudreaux provided updates in news conferences throughout the day Tuesday about the shootings that occurred about 3:30 a.m. in Goshen, California. He cautioned members of the public not to listen to information on social media but to get updates from his office.

He said the shootings were "like a cartel-style execution," weren’t random, were cartel/gang related and occurred because of California’s “soft-on-crime approach.”

Boudreaux said one of the victims, Eladio Parraz, Jr., “was already [being held] on felony convictions, was in possession of ammunition, felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of a short-barreled rifle, felon in possession of an assault weapon, a loaded weapon, in possession of a firearm, and possession of a controlled substance. He unfortunately was able to bail out four days later.”

Last week, a search warrant was executed for drugs at the location where the shooting occurred, at the victims’ home on Harvest Avenue between Road 68 and Kame Drive, authorities said.

“We have to begin holding people accountable for violent crimes," Boudreaux said. "People who use guns who are criminals need to be held accountable … for those who are drug dealing up and down the state of California, providing narcotics in our communities, providing an unsafe environment … we have to take a very strong approach when it comes to our justice program.”

While crime has escalated over the last few years after the legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom changed policies and as judges release defendants accused of violent crimes on bail, Mexican cartel violence is also escalating in a state where fentanyl and other drugs are pouring in through its southern border at an unprecedented rate and volume, authorities say.

Boudreaux said of the shootings, "We believe this is very targeted. This is very personal and we also believe this is a message being sent."

He told the Los Angeles Times the murders were “specifically connected” to a Mexican cartel but wouldn’t specify which one. “The level of violence,” he said, wasn’t a “run-of-the-mill, low-end gang member.”

Tulare County is tied to “some of the most prominent – and violent – figures of Mexico’s recent drug wars,” Rachel Myrow with the Los Angeles Times tweeted, “including Jose Maria Guizar Valencia, a former leader of the brutal Zetas cartel, who was born there.”

The Sinaloa Cartel primarily controls the Mexican border shared with California, stretching across Arizona, New Mexico and to the Big Bend region of Texas, law enforcement officials have explained to The Center Square. But after its leader, El Chapo, was arrested a few years ago, and his son was recently arrested in Mexico, cartel and gang violence is erupting on Mexican and American streets as they fight to control a multi-billion-dollar business of drug and human trafficking, authorities say.

While Tulare County doesn’t share a physical border with Mexico, its rural community located roughly five hours north by car, a little over 300 miles, isn’t immune to cartel violence. Texas communities located the same distance from the border are also suffering from cartel and gang related violence. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, in response to the Biden administration’s border policies, launched Operation Lone Star to thwart cartel and gang activity stemming from the border. Abbott argues Biden administration policies are emboldening the cartels and designated two cartels last year as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

One OLS task force, led by Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, spans multiple rural counties located several hundred miles north of the Texas-Mexico border.

While the shooting of a young mother and her 10-month-old baby is creating shockwaves in social media and news outlets, Boyd says no one should be surprised. These types of executions are “not as uncommon as many would like to believe,” he told The Center Square. “In countries like Mexico, life has little-to-no value to the cartels and their operatives.”

Boyd also reiterates that Americans are not immune from cartel violence because “cartel sicarios operate throughout the United States enforcing the unholy business model of various Mexican cartels.

“After interviewing contract killers in Texas, I can attest to the fact that they kidnap and murder for small amounts of money without regard for sex or age of their targets. And it happens with a frequency that would shock the conscious of most Americans,” he said.

While Texas has borne the brunt of nearly 1.8 million people illegally entering in fiscal 2022, over 300,000 were apprehended or reported evading capture by Border Patrol agents after illegally entering California in fiscal 2022, according to Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square. And while Texas shares the largest border with Mexico of 1,254 miles, California’s smallest shared border of 137 miles hasn’t deterred the unprecedented amount of drugs pouring through, border agents say.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Randy Grossman has expressed alarm about San Diego becoming “the epicenter of fentanyl trafficking into the United States.” Over 60% of fentanyl that’s been seized nationwide has been seized in San Diego and Imperial counties, he said.

“Unfortunately, with the encouragement of our federal government through its open border policy, Mexican cartels have an open invitation to expand their empires throughout the U.S. With the continued influx of illegal aliens, we can only expect more crime like this,” Boyd said.

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