Twin brothers arrested in Los Banos double homicide

December 29, 2011 

U.S. Marshals arrested twin brothers Wednesday in the killing of two Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang members, which took place behind a night club in August.

22-year-olds Mando and Armando Lopez were taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"We were able to determine they were in New Mexico and we asked for help from (authorities) there and they called the U.S. Marshals," Los Banos Police Chief Gary Brizzee said.

Police are also searching for two other people they believe were involved in the incident. Authorities have identified 27-year-old Joe Castillo and 21-year-old Francisco Esquivel, both of Los Banos, as suspects. These individuals are known gang members and should be considered to be potentially armed and very dangerous, police said.

The Lopez twins were wanted for the Aug. 7 killing of brothers Ruben Sanchez, 34, and Angel Rodriguez, 30. The double homicide took place at 1:46 a.m. on the 500 block of I Street in the alleyway near Club Azul.

Brizzee said although Sanchez and Rodriguez were members of the Mongols, police do not believe they were killed because they belonged to an outlaw motorcycle gang.

"It was an altercation between members of rival criminal street gangs and they got involved," Brizzee said.

As of Thursday afternoon the Lopez twins were both being held in New Mexico on Merced County warrants consisting of two counts each of murder, participation in a criminal street gang, as well as firearm and prior felony conviction enhancements. Bail has been set at $2 million.

"Our staff invested a lot of time and energy into this investigation and we are thrilled these two men have been apprehended. We are grateful to the Marshals Service for their assistance in this case," Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said.

Brizzee praised his staff's effort to solve the double homicide case.

"These arrests are the culmination of a several month investigation by our detective staff. I'm very proud of their determination and their never give up attitude; and I'm very pleased to see these individuals be brought to justice, for the victims, the victim's family and our community," he said.

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