Person of interest in MH homicide arrested

Luis Soto, 23 of Dos Palos, was arrested on suspicion of

Mario Flores, 20, one of Morgan Hill’s Most Wanted and a

person of interest

in the Oct. 2 gang-related homicide on Crest Avenue, was
arrested after police reportedly found a machine gun, marijuana and
ammo in his possession.
Mario Flores, 20, one of Morgan Hill’s Most Wanted and a “person of interest” in the Oct. 2 gang-related homicide on Crest Avenue, was arrested after police reportedly found a machine gun, marijuana and ammo in his possession.

Also arrested Jan. 8, when police acted on an anonymous tip out of Merced County, were Elder Arellano, 24 of Gilroy, and Luis Soto, 23 of Dos Palos, according to Morgan Hill Police Sgt. Jerry Neumayer. They were arrested on suspicion of transportation of an assault weapon. All three suspects are being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.

MHPD Special Operations received a call from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office about 10:30 a.m. Jan. 8. Authorities in Merced County had received a tip that Flores, who was wanted for questioning and a suspected probation violation, was living at a residence on Jupiter Circle in Santa Nella.

Morgan Hill police and Regional Auto Theft Task Force officers responded to the area and pulled over a vehicle that was leaving the residence. The vehicle was occupied by all three men. Flores was immediately arrested on a warrant, Neumayer said.

Arellano and Soto were held while police searched the vehicle and the residence where Flores was reportedly living.

Authorities from the Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team and the Merced County SWAT team joined the search of the residence. They found an AK-47 assault rifle that was fully loaded with 7.62 caliber rounds, numerous rounds of 9 mm, .357, 7.62 and .223 caliber ammunition. Also found were 16 ecstasy doses, three marijuana plants and about half a pound of processed marijuana.

Flores’ vehicle was impounded and towed back to Morgan Hill. Upon further search, police found a loaded Tec 9 machine gun, plus a loaded 9 mm magazine, hidden under the center console, Neumayer said. Police also found unspecified gang paraphernalia in the vehicle.

Flores was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of an assault weapon, Neumayer said. He is currently in custody in Santa Clara County Jail.

Flores has been listed as one of Morgan Hill’s Most Wanted since October 2009. He is a suspected Sureño gang member and has been wanted as a “person of interest” in the Oct. 2 shooting death of Hollister resident Juan Arellano in Morgan Hill, Neumayer said. He is not currently a suspect in the gang-related shooting, but police think he had some knowledge of the crime and wanted to interview him.

Arellano’s shooting occurred in early October, on the sidewalk in front of the Crest Avenue Apartments. Earlier that evening, police responded to two additional gang-related assaults – the beating of a 16-year-old male at a bus stop near Main and Hale avenues, and the stabbing of a Gilroy man outside Morgan Hill Bowl. All three violent crimes were reportedly perpetrated by a group of suspects who were suspected Sureño gang members.

The victims were wearing red clothing or a tattoo – a color associated with the Norteño street gang.

Soto and Elder Arellano are in custody at the Merced County Jail.

Neumayer did not specify the extent of Flores’ suspected knowledge of the homicide. Morgan Hill police have not reported arresting anyone else in connection with the shooting.

Anyone with information about these arrests may call Morgan Hill Police Department at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.

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