Twin brothers arrested in Los Banos double homicide

Mando Lopez
Mando Lopez

Law enforcement officers arrested twin brothers Wednesday in the killing of two Mongols motorcycle gang members, which took place behind a nightclub in August.

Mando and Armando Lopez, both 22, were taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in Las Cruces, N.M.

"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 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. They are known gang members and should be considered armed and 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 about 2 a.m. on the 500 block of I Street in the alleyway near Club Azul.

Brizzee said Sanchez and Rodriguez were members of the Mongols but that police don't believe they were killed because they belonged to the 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 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 victims' family and our community," he said.

Los Banos Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or cpride@losbanosenerprise.com.