San Diego

Two brothers believed to be members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang were arraigned Friday in connection with the drug-related slayings of three people at a San Diego auto body shop.

Hector Juan Ayala, 33, and Ronald Nudrana Ayala, 34, appeared before Municipal Court Judge Robert Cooney, who set a preliminary hearing for Aug. 22.

The killings of three men and the wounding of a fourth April 26 in the shop in Southeast San Diego were “drug-related and particularly brutal,” said Los Angeles Police Lt. Jim Vuchsas, a detective in that city’s prison gang detail.

The victims, whose bodies were found crammed in a small room in the back of the shop, had been bound, gagged and shot in the back of the head.


A .38-caliber pistol was seized when the Ayalas were arrested Tuesday. Police believe it and a .22-caliber handgun were used in the slayings.

A third man, Joseph Moreno, is still being sought for questioning in the killings in San Diego.

Witnesses told police they saw three men running from the shop after the shootings. On April 29, police found a van believed to have been the getaway vehicle near Balboa Park in San Diego.