After over eight months of an investigation that led detectives deep into the world of illegal narcotics, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. has finally apprehended the men believed to be behind a September 2007 homicide.
With the arrests of four men on May 15, the Sheriff’s Dept. announced that the mystery surrounding the death of then 23-year-old Adan Cervantes Ruiz – whose body was found along Highway 154 wrapped in a sleeping bag – has been solved. The suspects – Horacio Santoyo, 19, Servando Cabrera, 20, Jose Villa-Cervantes, 26, and Dimas Santayo, 29 – are being held without bail and awaiting arraignment in the Santa Barbara County Jail for the alleged murder of Ruiz.
Ruiz’s body was found with a sole gunshot to the chest along Highway 154 on Sept. 17, 2007. It is thought he was killed on Sept. 15 as several individuals were transporting processed marijuana out of their grow site located just south of Lompoc.
The Sheriff’s Dept. believed Ruiz and his murderers were linked to a large-scale marijuana growing operation prior to his death. Evidence of the operation was discovered on Sept. 24, 2007, when law enforcement agents made the largest marijuana bust in Santa Barbara County history on Highway 1 near Lompoc. Approximately 93,000 mature marijuana plants – with an approximate value of $275 million – were discovered and exhumed at the site.
According to a press release, spokesman Sgt. Alex Tipolt said the Sheriff’s Dept. is convinced that the suspects apprehended played an important role in the murder of Ruiz.
“In conjunction with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office, who has reviewed this case, sheriff’s investigators are confident they have solved the investigation into the murder of Adan Ruiz,” Tipolt said.
While there is no definite motive for the crime given in the Sheriff’s Dept. press release, there is clear evidence implicating the men in custody, Tipolt said.
“Through the lengthy and detailed investigation, detectives were able to obtain information which showed the suspects’ direct involvement in the planning and murder of Adan Ruiz,” Tipolt said.
Following the discovery of Ruiz’s body on Sept. 17, the Sheriff’s Dept. launched an investigation into his murder. His death was quickly linked to the Lompoc drug operation and three search warrants were subsequently issued in Perris, a city south of Riverside.
A raid resulted in five arrests, including that of Ruiz’s brother, Reyes Ruiz. Authorities have revealed that Reyes Ruiz was likely present at the time of his brother’s death.
In addition, officers seized 800 pounds of marijuana with an estimated value of $2.6 million, as well as $80,000 in cash, during the raid.