FLORENCE - Three men were charged with first-degree murder and drive-by shooting in the deaths of four people gunned down on an interstate last week, Pinal County authorities said Friday.
The three Mexican men charged with four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of drive-by shooting were identified as Jose Espinosa-Gonzales, Jose Angel Molina-Gastulem and Ignacio Medina-Armenta. A fourth man taken into custody, Javier Martinez-Reyes, has not been charged in the case.
Pinal County Sheriff Roger Vanderpool said Friday that investigators now believe that on Nov. 5, a group of illegal immigrants were kidnapped from a pair of smugglers. Those smugglers then allegedly called the four men in custody, who were in Phoenix, giving them a description of a Ford Explorer.
Vanderpool said the men drove eastbound on Interstate 10 until they saw the Explorer going westbound around Casa Grande. They crossed the median, pulled up next to the SUV and a truck carrying other illegal immigrants, and opened fire without warning, Vanderpool said.
Two people were injured in Explorer. Four people in the truck were killed and others were injured.