State Attorney General Kamela Harris announced the arrests late Thursday, with her office noting that "sophisticated investigative techniques" were used to track down the suspects.
They were ID'd as Jorge Ernesto Sillas-Rocha, 27, Victor Manuel Magana Gonzalez, 24, and Daniel Ceballos, 34. They were arrested Thursday morning in Palmdale on suspicion of "conspiracy and murder-for-hire," according Harris' office.
The trio was being held in San Diego and was expected to eventually be charged there, according to the A.G.
Scared yet? State agents found two AR-15 assault rifles, 1,000 bullets and $20,000 in cash during the arrests, they allege.
State cops also want to collar Juan Francisco "Ruedas" Sillas-Rocha, 33, a lieutenant in the Tijuana-based gang. They allege he is the mastermind of the plot and wanted the five potential victims murdered under the guise of a home-invasion robbery gone sideways.
The targets "owed the cartel large sums of money" -- proceeds from drug sales, according to Harris' office. Ruedas was willing to throw down "thousands" for their heads, authorities said.
"This case sends a message to the border drug cartels trying to do business here: Justice will be swift and certain when you cross into California. I applaud our agents and law enforcement partners for their good work in uncovering and thwarting this murder-for-hire plot."
The case also points all the way to Fernando Sanchez Arrellano, the purported boss of the Tijuana cartel.