MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Police say a Mesa man who claimed he used to be a desert spotter for a drug cartel shot and killed and a man with whom he worked because he believed the man was going to kill him. Police arrested Daniel Villalobos-Espinoza on suspicion of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Carlos Osuna-Apodaca.

It happened at an apartment in the area of Broadway Road and Mesa Drive the night of Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. According to court documents, Villalobos-Espinoza’s brother was there, as well, and told officers he was outside smoking when he heard two gunshots. Police said the brother told them that “Daniel showed up unexpectedly.”

Investigators said Villalobos-Espinoza, 24, denied being involved in the shooting until they told him what his brother had said. He then admitted everything, according to police, including why he shot Osuna-Apodaca.

According to court documents, Villalobos-Espinoza said he stopped working for the cartel because he wasn’t getting paid. “At some point recently Osuna-Apodaca told the cartel people they worked for that he had found Daniel and was told to kill Daniel,” according to the probable cause for arrest statement. Villalobos-Espinoza reportedly said that he heard about the kill order “through third parties” and noticed that Osuna-Apodaca had become “distant.”

[RELATED: Drug cartel scouts living in mountains south of Phoenix]

Police said Villalobos-Espinoza told them that on Saturday, he “was at home worrying about it and decided to go and kill Osuna-Apodaca before [Carlos] killed Daniel.” Investigators said Villalobos-Espinoza described how he went to the home and walked in unannounced. He said Osuna-Apodaca, who was unarmed, started to walk to his bedroom. “Daniel said he thought he might be going to arm himself so he followed and shot Osuna-Apodaca in the head. When he fell to the ground, Daniel said that he shot him again in the head just in case he was still alive.” Osuna-Apodaca was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives said Villalobos-Espinoza, who is in the U.S. illegally and has “no valid form of ID,” confessed to his brother and confirmed that the handgun police found in his home was the one he used to murder Osuna-Apodaca. He was arrested on Tuesday, Dec. 4. No prior arrests or convictions are listed on Villalobos-Espinoza’s public court documents.


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