Jorge Sillas, 28, Victor Gonzalez, 29, Danny Cepallo, 34, were working on the orders of the Arellano Felix cartel, one of Mexico's oldest and once most powerful drug trafficking organizations, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Sillas' older brother, 33-year-old Juan Sillas, is one of Tijuana's most feared hitmen. He has not been charged but the complaint said he offered to pay an assassin $50,000 for the killings.
The intended targets of this murder for hire plot reportedly live here in California and have ties to the cartel. They were said to have owed the cartel a large sum of money, believed to be the proceeds from drug sales.
A San Diego Superior Court judge set bail at $1 million each, and scheduled a hearing for March 17.
If convicted, the men face up to life in prison.