Two men were gunned down in an execution style murder and left in an idling truck on a Delhi country road.
Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said the men’s death was a “very precise, calculated and message-driven” slaying at the hands of a Mexican cartel.
It’s believed the two Hispanic men were in the country illegally and were part of an operation growing marijuana in the area. The Merced County Sheriff’s Department is working with the Mexican consulate to identify the two men. It’s believed they were both in their 20s.
A person driving along Harding Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Saturday made the gruesome discovery. A pickup truck was idling in the middle of the road, about 200 yards east of Merced Avenue.
The truck was riddled with bullet holes and both the driver’s side and rear windows had been shot out, Pazin said. The two men were found inside the cab of the truck — dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
The truck was in reverse and the driver still had his foot on the parking brake, Pazin said.
Investigators were able to trace the two men back to a Delhi home in the area of Letteau Avenue and Hilltop Street. Two women were staying at the home and initially said they were related to the two men, but their claim faltered when neither could provide the full names of the two men.
The women later admitted they had just recently come to the Delhi residence and the men had been there about three months, Pazin said.
Investigators found evidence at the home that indicated it was being used as a packaging and distribution site for marijuana.
“When people get involved with these cartels, whether it’s for marijuana, meth or whatever else, they’re walking a fine line and your survival rate is suspect,” Pazin said.
The double homicide brought Merced County’s total to 27 for the year.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s department at 385-7445.