2 California teens held in killings over illegal vape sale

Two Southern California teenagers have been arrested in connection with the killings of two young men last month during a meeting involving the illegal sale of vape products, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday at his home in Oceanside a day after a 17-year-old was arrested in Riverside, sheriff’s Lt. Chris Steffen said in a statement. Both suspects were booked into a juvenile detention facility for investigation of two counts of murder. Their names were not released.

The victims, who the sheriff’s department said were friends, were found with apparent gunshot wounds in the city of San Marcos on Jan. 4. Jesus Garcia, 19, of San Marcos, was found on the ground near a park entrance and died that night at a hospital. Nicholas Tiefer, 20, of Vista, was found in the passenger seat of a nearby car and died at a hospital the next day.

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"At this stage of the investigation, it appears the suspects did not know the victims; however, we believe the reason for them meeting was for the illegal sale of vape products," Steffen wrote. "The motivation and circumstances are still under investigation."

Steffen said it was not yet known if the vape products were tobacco- or THC-based. No further information was released, including which side of the meeting was selling or buying.

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It is illegal in California for retailers to sell tobacco to anyone under 21. In November, voters approved a ban that prohibits flavored cigarettes and vaping cartridges, which supporters said were too easy for teens to obtain.

The ban doesn’t make it a crime to possess the products, but retailers who sell them could be fined up to $250. In addition to menthol and other flavored cigarettes, the ban prohibits sale of flavored tobacco for vape pens, tank-based systems and chewing tobacco, with exceptions made for hookahs, some cigars and loose-leaf tobacco.