“California DOJ special agents and California Highway Patrol officers work together in the Special Operations Unit, using technology and investigative tools to assist in identifying and arresting suspected criminals. Their work is often done outside of the spotlight but their impact on public safety should not go unnoticed.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
VISALIA –On February 21, 2023, seven suspects were arrested for their suspected involvement in the 2020 homicide of Justin Molina, 15. Molina was shot in Visalia’s Ruiz Park on December 13, 2020 and died seven days later as a result of his injuries. Visalia Police Department detectives continued the investigation through 2021 and 2022, before requesting the assistance of the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Special Operations Unit (SOU). As a result of the investigative work by DOJ SOU, Visalia police and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, the arrests were made possible.
The seven have been identified by the Visalia Police Department and charges listed as:
- Antonio Castaneda, 20, Homicide
- Candelaria Ramos, 48, Accessory to Homicide and Felony Conspiracy
- Jennifer Ruiz-Castaneda, 18, Conspiracy
- Jose Ramos-Castaneda, 21, Accessory to Homicide and Felony Conspiracy
- Jose Patricio Ramos Jr., 51, Accessory to Homicide and Felony Conspiracy Maria Griselda-Campos, 43, Resisting, Delaying, Obstructing an Officer
- Male Juvenile, 16, Accessory to Homicide and Felony Conspiracy
“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,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “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 including the Visalia Police Department, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office for their work to apprehend these suspects to face accountability.”
“The multi-agency operation on Tuesday morning leading to the arrests of seven individuals involved in the murder of 15-year-old Justin Molina in December of 2020 is the culmination of more than two years of dedication and hard work by Visalia Police Detectives who never gave up on solving this case,” said Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar. “I am grateful for their 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. 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.”
The teams executed six search warrants during the investigation, resulting in seven arrests and the seizure of six handguns, one shotgun, and approximately $10,000 in cash.
DOJ’s SOU is a collaborative investigative effort between 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.