Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shawna Forde

Oin Oakstar

Early in the investigation of the Arivaca home invasion, law enforcement got a tip leading them to Oin Oakstar, a local player in the drug trade. Having been previously convicted on multiple felony charges, Oakstar was prohibited from possessing firearms. When a search of the home he shared with his girlfriend Sandy Stroup revealed a handgun, shotgun and SKS assault rifle, authorities had all they needed to arrest him.

Oin Oakstar
Oin Oakstar
Oakstar, a native of Arivaca, had been involved in the drug trade since the age of fourteen and had already served two stints in prison on state and federal drug charges. Oakstar initially refused to cooperate with the police, but checking Oakstar's associates led them to Albert Gaxiola, a man with whom Oakstar shared a lucrative business running drugs from Arivaca into Tucson. They charged $12.50 per pound for transporting hundreds of pounds of marijuana from the border town into the city. As it turned out, Gaxiola had a history with the victim Raul Flores: A few months before the killings, Gaxiola and friends had stolen 400-500 pounds of marijuana that Flores had stashed in an abandoned trailer. It came as no surprise that their feud would turn deadly.

Gina Gonzalez told investigators she had seen a teal Astro van driving by her house the day of the invasion, as if casing the area. On June 1, 2009, Pima County Sheriff's Department officials searched the residence of Albert Gaxiola. They found a teal Astro van with blood stains on both the exterior and interior. In the home, they found camouflage fatigues with the name "Bush" sewn into the right chest area. They had their first break in the case. Although, the police had traced the van to Gaxiola, they figured he was not the gunman since Gonzalez knew Gaxiola and would have recognized him.

Now police had to find the gunman and woman who had entered the Flores home. Oakstar refused to cooperate with authorities, so they let him stew in jail on the firearms violation. Eventually, prosecutors believed, he would start looking for a deal.

After the search of Albert Gaxiola's house turned up evidence he was involved in the shooting, authorities delved into his phone records. They found several text messages between Gaxiola and a woman named Shawna Forde. The messages were sent around the time of the shooting, and seemed to implicate the two in the crime. The timing was right, and the messages implied that the motive for the home invasion had been taking out a rival in the marijuana trade and that one of the conspirators had been injured, presumably by Gina Gonzalez' marksmanship.

A message sent from Gaxiola to Forde on May 30 at 1:33 a.m. read "Cops on scene. Lay low." A reply from Forde to Gaxiola sent 25 minutes later stated "No worries. All good. Relax, competition gone." About an hour later, Forde wrote Gaxiola again: "Can u stop and get a few rolls of gauze and compress bandages."


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