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Delhi man and teen arrested for gang murder
gilbert cortez
Gilbert Cortez

A spate of gang violence in Delhi led to the death of a 23-year-old man and the arrest of two suspects on murder charges, including a 16-year-old boy.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported the arrest of a 16-year-old male from Delhi and Gilbert Levi Cortez, 21, of Delhi on charges of first-degree murder for the death of Marcos Naranjo-Servin, 23, of Delhi.

Around 4 p.m. Saturday emergency dispatch for Merced County received multiple calls reporting shots fired in the area of Shanks Road and Letteau Avenue in Delhi.

The first deputies to arrive at the scene found Naranjo-Servin suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died from his injury, said sheriff spokesman Sgt. Delray Shelton.

In the early stages of the investigation sheriff’s detectives identified Cortez as the possible driver in a vehicle seen in the area of the homicide.

Detectives began a round the clock surveillance of Cortez’s residence in the 16000 block of Yvonne Drive in Delhi. The surveillance operation was interrupted when detectives noticed a vehicle that was “creeping” around the neighborhood and suspected retaliation for Naranjo-Servin’s death was imminent, Shelton said.

Investigators tried to stop the late model sedan, but the driver made an attempt to flee the area. The pursuit was short-lived as sheriff’s deputies stopped the car and detained four individuals. Detectives found two loaded rifles in the vehicle.

“It’s believed detectives spoiled an attempt by rival gang members of retaliating to the murder,” Shelton said.

The vehicle stop led to the arrests of Joshua Thomas Rietz, 19, of Delhi, Luis Ochoa 18, of Delhi, Javier Luquin Cervantes, 19, of Delhi, and a juvenile male. All were all booked into the Merced County Jail on felony gun charges and suspicion of participating in a criminal street gang.

The event hastened action with Cortez and around 2 a.m. Tuesday detectives served a search warrant at the Yvonne Drive residence. During the search warrant service, three firearms were recovered along with gang paraphernalia, Shelton said.

The ongoing investigation led to the identity of the suspected shooter — a 16-year-old boy. The juvenile was taken into custody and eventually admitted to shooting Naranjo-Servin, Shelton said.

“Both the victim and suspect are known rival gang members from the Delhi area,” Shelton said.

Cortez was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, participation in a criminal street gang, and conspiracy to commit a crime. He is being held on a $1.2 million bail. The 16-year-old Delhi teen was arrested on suspicion of murder and participation in a criminal street gang. He is being held at Juvenile Hall with no bail. The juvenile’s name has not been released.


Sheriff’s detectives are asking anyone with additional information regarding the murder to contact Detective Mike Ruiz, at 385-7445. All callers will remain anonymous.