Michael Derrick Jimenez, 31, was wanted for "dissuading" witnesses or victims of a crime tied to a July 4 homicide case in Calexico. He turned himself in to the Imperial County jail sometime Thursday evening, Sept. 9. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CALEXICO POLICE DEPARTMENT
CALEXICO — A total of seven suspects alleged to have intimidated and assaulted witnesses tied to a July 4 murder case in Calexico are in custody following a series of high-risk tactical raids on five separate locations in the Imperial Valley on Thursday morning, Sept. 9, according to Calexico’s police chief.
One identified suspect listed among the six search warrants served at 7 a.m. in locations in Calexico and Brawley turned himself in to Imperial County Sheriff’s Office jail staff sometime after 5 p.m. Thursday, Chief Gonzalo Gerardo said.
Gerardo told this newspaper he believes the suspect, initially listed as armed and dangerous, might have turned himself in after media reports of the raid spread over social media.
Michael Derrick Jimenez, 31, of Calexico was that sixth suspect. He was apparently staying in Brawley, Gerardo said.
There was a $500,000 arrest warrant against him for allegedly “dissuading” a witness or victim of a crime tied to an active homicide investigation, police said.
Apprehended during the morning raids were Raul Mejia, 48, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, 31, and Jorge De La Rosa Jr., 41, all taken into custody in Calexico, and Ruben Fuentes, 32, who was taken in Brawley.
A seventh suspect in the case, Gilberto Mujica, 35, was already in custody at the time of the coordinated warrant sweep.
Federal, state, and local agencies assisted Calexico Police Department in the enforcement action, which led officers to link the subjects to alleged additional crimes like human trafficking, drug smuggling, guns, and “other serious crimes,” according to the Calexico press release.
The arrests are tied to the fatal stabbing of 28-year-old Michelle Hernandez Durazo in the early-morning hours of July 4 at a home in the 700 block of Contreras Court.
Palacios reportedly left the scene in a gray vehicle driven by a male subject believed to reside in El Centro, police said at the time. The suspect was reportedly identified by a resident of the home where the incident took place.
Of the Sept. 9 warrant raids, Chief Gerardo thanked the various agencies that assisted Calexico, and give credit to the work of his officers.
“I want to commend the Calexico police officers’ hard work and tenacious police skills to solve this case. These officers make the department and me look good,” Gerardo stated in a department press release. “They deserve full recognition from the city of Calexico administration and council.”
Outside agencies that assisted in the operation included Brawley Police Department, El Centro Police Department, Imperial County Narcotics Task Force, Imperial County District Attorney’s Office, El Centro and Yuma Sector U.S. Border Patrol Intelligence’s Bor-Tac (Border Tactical team), Homeland Security Investigations’ Imperial County and San Diego Special Response Teams, U.S. federal probation, and Imperial County Law Enforcement Coordination Center intelligence analysts.
During a conversation earlier in the day, Gerardo said the raids were the equivalent to five tactical units, what would have formerly been referred to SWAT teams, descending on the locations. In one case, he said, teams used “flash bang” devices to disorient and take at least one suspect into custody.
No further information was immediately available, and the story is still developing.
Anyone with information on the case can call the Calexico Police Department directly at 760-768-2140, extension 0.
(This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, after an outstanding suspect police were searching for turned himself in.)