Murder for Hire Plot Uncovered In Merced

Merced, CA, USA Nicholas Torres was transferred here to the main jail downtown after police say he was plotting two murders from inside the county's other jail. Investigators say Torres thought the scheme would keep him out of jail, but the plan backfired.

Nicholas Torres was being held at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility on drug charges and a parole violation when Merced police say he began plotting to have two people murdered.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon of the Merced Police Dept. said, "The Merced County Sheriff's Office jail facility contacted us and stated that they had intercepted a note that made some references to a solicitation for hire for murder on a witness in a case and one of the officers that works for the Merced Police Department for his arrest of the suspect."

Investigators believe the 64 year old was targeting the officer and the witness because the drug charges against him would have been his third strike and could have sent him to jail for life. Commander Floyd Higdon says two undercover agents met with Torres inside the jail to confirm the deadly plan, then notified the alleged targets.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said, "We do our best to protect everyone involved in those type of situations."

Sheriff Mark Pazin says correctional officers also work to protect potential victims by monitoring communication inside the jails. They record phone calls, screen mail, and intercept notes, like these found during a cell block search at the main jail last year.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "They're the unsung heroes in a lot of these investigations because it starts with them."

Pazin says in this case an officer's awareness may have saved lives and helped keep a criminal in jail.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "Mr. Torres will now be behind bars further and face charges on his murder-for-hire scheme."

Torres is being held without bail while police continue their investigation. Officers say there may be more arrests in this case.


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