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Drug links discovered in fatal Hilmar shooting


The Merced County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Hilmar homicide that could have ties to the drug trade.

The victim has been identified by the sheriff’s department as Orlando Yepez, 21, of Stanislaus County. Yepez also went by several other alias, said sheriff spokesman Dep. Delray Shelton.

Around 12:45 a.m. Friday the sheriff’s department was contacted by a resident in the 7800 block of Kates Court. The resident said a neighbor had been shot and was in need of medical help.

Yepez had sustained at least one gunshot wound and was transported to a Modesto hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Shelton said the investigation into the homicide is ongoing and is still in the early stages, but that detectives are “confident multiple people were involved.”

“We suspect it is likely tied to the drug trade as well,” Shelton said.

Shelton could not elaborate on what evidence detectives believe ties the homicide to the drug trade. He said the shooting was not gang-related.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Department at 385-7444.