Friday, 24 May 2024

REGIONAL: State, local officials arrest 59 Northern California gang members in sweeps

YUBA CITY – California Department of Justice narcotics agents and local law enforcement officers have arrested 59 gang members in a series of sweeps around Sacramento Valley counties that began earlier this year.

Those arrested included one gang member who bootstrapped his way from foot soldier to local commander by committing or ordering murders, according to a report from Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s office.

In January, agents from the DOJ's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and a task force of local law enforcement officials initiated Operation Crimson Tide by targeting gangs in and around Yuba and Sutter counties.

On Thursday alone, agents arrested 33 gang members and seized 24 firearms in five Northern California counties as part of “Operation Crimson Tide,” the DOJ reported.

The Thursday sweeps involved more than 300 law enforcement agents in Sacramento, Sutter, Yuba, Colusa and Stanislaus counties and involved more than 30 search warrants, according to the DOJ.

“Tragically, those arrested today chose to join dangerous gangs that deal in meth and murder,” Brown said Thursday. “By removing them from society, we are disrupting their criminal activities and making the people of Northern California safer.”

After extensive investigative work, DOJ said its agents and task force members uncovered a well-organized methamphetamine distribution network, involving large amounts of methamphetamine smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

Officials said the investigation also helped solve four homicides of Sureños gang members and resulted in the earlier arrests of 26 Norteños gang members and several associates.

Last month, agents arrested Robert Juan Salazar, 24, for the March 2004 murder of a Sureños gang leader as he sat in his car with his six-year-old nephew.

In the view of law enforcement, that began Salazar's climb up the organizational ladder of the local Norteños gang, which included ordering murders of rival gang members in April and December 2004 and July 2005. Salazar is being held without bail in Sutter County Jail on murder charges.

Over the course of the operation, the DOJ reported that its agents and task force members were able to prevent one murder, two stabbings and two shootings, as well as arrest two wanted fugitive gang members and two gang members on murder charges.

Prior to Thursday's enforcement action, Operation Crimson Tide led to the seizure of more than 17 pounds of methamphetamine, two handguns and two sawed-off shotguns. An additional 24 weapons and more than 11 pounds of illegal drugs were seized.

All 59 arrestees – including the 33 arrested Thursdasy – will be prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office in one comprehensive gang prosecution case, the DOJ reported.

All 30 search warrants were issued by the Sacramento County Superior Court, according to the DOJ. The cold-case homicide cases are being prosecuted by the Sutter County District Attorney's Office.

Charges include distribution and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, firearms violations and murder.

The California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and the Yuba/Sutter Narcotic and Gang Enforcement Team led Thursday's operation.

Participating agencies included the Butte County Sheriff's Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, Colusa County Sheriff's Department, Marysville Police Department, Modesto Police Department, Nevada County Sheriff's Department, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Sacramento Police Department, Sutter County Probation Department, Sutter County Sheriff's Department, Yuba City Police Department, Yuba County Probation Department and Yuba County Sheriff's Department.

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