Friday, October 14, 2011

Agents arrest 103 in California gang sweep

(AP)  GILROY, Calif. - Agents made more than 100 arrests this week across northern and central California in authorities' most recent action to dismantle gangs, the state's attorney general announced Friday.

Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the results of the 16-month operation Friday in Gilroy, a farming community about 30 miles south of San Jose that's famous for its garlic festivals, which attract thousands of tourists. The gang sweep was called Operation Garlic Press.

The majority of the 103 people arrested over the past three days in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties were gang members with prior convictions, Harris said.

The suspects face charges including auto theft, gun charges, narcotics sales and burglary. Some also were arrested on federal indictments.

"After noticing an increase in crime, Gilroy officials asked for help in dismantling a gang network that had set up shop in their town," Harris said in a statement. "This community is safer because of their hard work and their partnerships with federal and local law enforcement."

Agents with the California Department of Justice worked with 150 law enforcement personnel from local, state and federal agencies. Working undercover, they bought drugs and guns, as well as stolen property and vehicles from the alleged gang members and others with prior convictions.

Authorities seized more than 3 pounds of methamphetamine, 28.5 grams of heroin, 4 ounces of cocaine, 34 Ecstasy tablets, 10 OxyContin pills, 44 firearms, 81 stolen vehicles and other stolen property.

Earlier this year, Harris announced several gang takedowns in the Central Valley resulting in dozens of arrests and gun and drug seizures.

The biggest sweep was in June, when authorities said they dismantled a San Joaquin Valley branch of Nuestra Familia, a notorious Northern California gang with ties to the state's prisoners and Mexican drug cartels. In that action, agents arrested 101 suspected members and raided more than 50 properties.

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