California Attorney general Rob Bonta thanks all partners involved in making the arrest of seven suspects in 2020 murder of a 15-year-old
VISALIA – After two years of following different leads, bringing government entities on board and offering a reward for information, the Visalia Police Department was able to make several arrests in connection to a 2020 murder case.
California’s Attorney general Rob Bonta spoke out after seven suspects were arrested on Feb. 21 in connection with the murder of Justin Molina, 15, at Ruiz Park in Visalia in 2020. Bonta extended his condolences to the victims family and his confidence in law enforcement partnerships. On Tuesday, the Visalia Police Department SWAT Team, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Operations Unit (SOU) served a series of search warrants that resulted in the arrest of seven suspects.
“While we cannot erase the pain and trauma experienced by those involved in this case, we hope that these arrests bring some level of closure for the victim’s family and to the Visalia community,” Bonta said. “Today’s announcement should send a strong message: Law enforcement partners statewide are working together to protect the safety of Californians and will not rest until the job is done. I thank our partners… for their work to apprehend these suspects to face accountability.”
The warrants resulted in arrests of seven suspects in connection with Molina’s murder: Antonio Castaneda, 20, Candelaria Ramos, 48, Jennifer Ruiz-Castaned, 18, Jose Ramos-Castaneda, 21, Jose Patricio Ramos Jr., 51, Maria Griselda-Campos, 43, and a male juvenile, 16.
They were arrested on a variety of different charges including homicide, accessory to homicide, felony conspiracy and resisting, delaying, obstructing an officer. The arrests in this matter have been referred to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office for potential criminal prosecution.
“This case is another example of the power of multi-agency cooperation, collaboration and dedication of law enforcement professionals to keep our communities safe — and of their resolve to hold those who commit violent acts in our community accountable for their actions,” Visalia police chief Jason Salazar said.
The warrants were served on Tuesday around 6:00 a.m in the city of Farmersville and in the city of Visalia. The investigation resulted in a total of six search warrants being served, producing not only the seven arrests, but also the seizure of six handguns, one shotgun and approximately $10,000 in cash. The arrest of Griselda-Campos was for resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer on the day the warrants were served.
The remainder of suspects are charged with the following; Castaneda is being charged with homicide; Ramos is charged with accessory to homicide and felony conspiracy; Ruiz-Castaneda is charged with conspiracy; Ramos-Castaneda is charged with accessory to homicide and felony conspiracy; Ramos Jr. is charged with accessory to homicide and felony conspiracy; and the male juvenile is charged with accessory to homicide and felony conspiracy.
The suspects were charged after Molin was shot on Dec. 13, 2020 and died as a result of his injuries seven days later. The nature of the shooting was determined to have taken place during the course of a drug deal. VPD detectives continued the investigation through 2021 and 2022, before requesting the assistance of the DOJ’s SOU. Earlier this month, VPD also joined forces with the local non profit Crimestoppers. A $3,000 reward was posted for any information that led to an arrest. According to VPD public information officer Art Alvarez, detectives did receive informational tips.
DOJ’s SOU is a collaborative investigative effort between the DOJ and the California Highway Patrol. The unit provides statewide enforcement for combating violent career criminals, gangs and organized crime groups. These unique and essential teams use the latest technology and advanced investigative techniques and work alongside local law enforcement to enhance investigations into violent criminals and organized crime throughout the state.
“I am grateful for [VPD’s] tenacity in continuing to develop leads and information and equally grateful for the assistance of the California Department of Justice Special Operations Unit who offered their expertise and resources without hesitation to help solve this senseless act of violence in our community,” Salazar said.