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 April 2nd, 2009  
Statement of St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara regarding verdicts in the Escobedo murder case
A federal jury in West Palm Beach earlier this week sentenced two Palm Beach County drug dealers to death for the 2006 execution-style murders of Luis Julian Escobedo, 4, and his brother Luis Damian Escobedo, 3.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, which also involved the murder of the boys’ parents, Jose Luis Escobedo, 28, and his wife Yessica Escobedo, 25. The bullet-riddled bodies of all four family members were found beside Florida’s Turnpike in Port St. Lucie the morning of Oct. 13, 2006, by a passing motorist.

The federal jury also sentenced the two drug dealers, Daniel Troya and Ricardo Sanchez, Jr., to life in prison for the murders of Jose Luis Escobedo and Yessica Escobedo. Troya and Sanchez, are both from West Palm Beach. They both were 25 at the time of the murders of the Escobedo family, who also were West Palm Beach residents.

Two other defendants will be sentenced in May.

They are: Danny Varela, 28, of West Palm Beach, convicted of drug and weapons charges, and Liana Lee Lopez, 20, of West Palm Beach, convicted of conspiracy, drug and firearms charges.

Regarding the case, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said:

“The irrefutable evidence presented in the case showed that Jose Luis and Yessica Escobedo were involved in the drug trade along with the defendants. The murders of the Escobedos were part of a drug ripoff in which Troya and Sanchez killed the entire Escobedo family to settle a debt, then stole 15 kilograms of cocaine from them.

“I want to thank the jury members who had to endure painstakingly graphic descriptions of the horrible crimes committed by the defendants. The jurors devoted six weeks to the trial followed by five days of deliberations on this complex and gruesome case. They were courageous and steadfast throughout the trial, and they rendered verdicts and sentences that were just, correct and entirely appropriate.

“Jose Luis and Yessica Escobedo were in a risky business and certainly knew the dangers involved in dealing drugs. Nonetheless, they did not deserve to die, and their innocent children did not deserve to have their lives ended so tragically and savagely.

“From the beginning of the investigation, it was clear that the case involved the drug trade in South Florida. We were joined in the investigation by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Port St. Lucie Police Department, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of Transportation, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Brownsville, Texas, Police Department.

“This case exemplified what the men and women of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office are all about. They are committed, tenacious and thoroughly professional in their pursuit of justice. Numerous detectives and other personnel worked on this case around the clock. To organize the thousands of pages of information in the case was a monumental task. To bring about arrests within two weeks was extraordinary.

“The people of St. Lucie County can be proud of their Sheriff’s Office and its work on this case which made possible the serious charges brought against the defendants by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach and the entirely successful prosecutions leading to the verdicts and sentences that are now a matter of public record.

“I am confident these verdicts and sentences will withstand the appeals process because they are based on a rock-solid investigation by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.”

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