September 8, 2023

Mexican cartel members who kidnapped and murdered drug dealers before dissolving their bodies in acid are jailed for life

A San Diego judge sentenced two Mexican drug gang members to life in prison without parole for kidnapping and killing two victims before dissolving the corpses in acid.

Jose Olivera Beritan, 38, got five consecutive life terms Friday, and David Valencia, 41, got two consecutive life terms for the gruesome acts, which included charges of murder and kidnapping.

Life in prison: Jose Olivera Beritan (left) and David Valencia (right)

A jury convicted both men of strangling two kidnap victims after holding them for nearly three weeks at a San Diego home in 2007.

Beritan was also convicted of murdering a third victim.

The two victims whose remains were discovered dissolving in acid were drug traffickers, said Mark Amador, a San Diego County deputy district attorney, according to the AP.

Victim identities were not released.

According to prosecutors, the defendants held the two kidnap victims for ransom in a San Diego home as payments were unsuccessfully negotiated, Amador told the .

After the victims were strangled to death, the bodies were placed in two 55-gallon barrels of fluids, allegedly filled with muriatic acid, prosecutors said.

Muriatic Acid, shown here, was found at the house where the victim remains were discovered

Authorities discovered the victims after a witness led investigators to Valencia’s San Diego ranch, where they discovered bones, teeth and body remains that had been reduced to a “brownish gelatin,” Amador berita told jurors.

“This is not typical,” Amador said.

“This is not normal. This is extraordinary — here, at least.”

Prosecutors told jurors the defendants belonged to “Los Palillos” (or “The Toothpicks”), a faction of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel that broke away in 2002 when its leader was killed in an internal feud, according to reports.

The toothpicks name originated from gang members leaving toothpicks next to their victims, the reported.

Jorge Rojas, 32-year-old alleged gang leader, was convicted of one kidnapping in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison. He will be tried later this year on additional charges that may make him eligible for the death penalty, if convicted.

The victims were discovered dissolving in acid in 50-gallon drums similar to these

According to the AP report, Amador also showed jurors photos of three boxes of muriatic acid found at the house where the victim’s bodies were discovered, adding that the home was equipped with sheets of wood and fans, presumably to reduce the stench.

“It was a mess to do this, and it stunk,” he said.

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