EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story identified a fifth juvenile as being charged as an adult in the killings. Only four of the five juveniles have been charged as adults.
A judge ordered four teenagers, who are charged as adults, to be held with no bond Saturday morning after they were arrested in connection to two murders in Lake Worth and a series of armed robberies.
Edwin Manzanarez, 17, Victor Hernandez Castro, 17, Henry Joel Cardoza, 16, and Jorge Santos Cruz, 17, each face charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. They were booked Friday night into the Palm Beach County Jail, where Saturday’s hearing took place.
Victor Fuentes, 20, was arrested last month in the killings as was a 17-year-old who has not been charged as an adult.
According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the teens are linked to several armed robberies in the Lake Worth area and are suspects in homicides that took place on Oct. 30 and Nov. 5. All live in the country illegally and all could face deportation, sheriff authorities said at a news conference on Nov. 21.
The juveniles also may be linked to the Latino gang MS-13, whose members are known to target landscapers or farm workers who are paid in cash and do not have legal U.S. immigration documents.
Authorities started their investigation into the teens after a man was shot near the hip Oct. 29 close to the intersection of Third Avenue North and North E Street. The victim told deputies that he was walking home when an SUV pulled up next to him, and six people — one of them armed — got out of the car and robbed him. The gunman then shot him on the left side of his lower back and fled the scene with the others. The victim was rushed to a hospital in West Palm Beach and underwent “life-saving” surgery, authorities said.
A day later, on Oct. 30, Lucio Velaquez-Morales, 33, was shot to death in front of a house on South H Street, and six days later on Nov. 5, Octavio Sanches-Morales, 22, was robbed and killed on South F Street.