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Three men sentenced to life in prison for deadly Bellflower robbery

Three men sentenced to life in prison for fatal drug scheme in Bellflower

Three men have been sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for a deadly drug-related home-invasion robbery, authorities said. 

In April, a jury found Pedro Huerta Zuniga, 44, and Francisco Argenis Parra, 32, guilty of a host of murder, assault, robbery, firearm and burglary charges.

A few days later, a second jury found a third defendant, 39-year-old Hector Aguilar Arciga, guilty of murder, robbery and burglary charges, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

In April 2009, the three men went to a Bellflower apartment to buy drugs from the victim, 23-year-old Carlos Zarate, authorities said.

When Zarate realized he was being cheated out of money, the men shot him, authorities said. He was later found and pronounced dead at the scene, according to the district attorney.

Authorities learned three other people had been in the apartment during the incident and witnessed the shooting. They, like Zarate, were also robbed.

The victims testified in court and identified the three defendants. Fingerprints at the scene linked Zuniga and Parra to the killing. Parra also was linked by a gun found in his car, according to the district attorney.

During the trial, the prosecutor argued the men were part of a "drug rip-off crew." They would establish trust with a dealer by buying small amounts of drugs and then rob the dealers after requesting a larger amount using handguns, zip ties and sometimes security badges.

To make the purchase seem real, the trio would bring stacks of $1 bills with a larger bill on the outside to the location.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @Caitlin__Owens, or email her at caitlin.owens@latimes.com.

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