A multi-agency investigation into the activities of a notorious California street gang has led to the arrest of 50 individuals and the seizure of significant quantities of illegal drugs and guns. The results of the investigation were announced during a Nov. 19 press conference. Agencies taking part in the three-month operation include the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Justice, the Stockton Police Department and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities say the individuals taken into custody are either members of or associated with the Norteño street gang. The gang has reportedly been linked with crimes in the Stockton area including narcotics and weapons distribution, murder and robbery. Police say that evidence obtained during the course of the investigation, which was launched in August 2019, helped them to identify suspects in the killing of a 10-year-old boy, who was gunned down while playing in his back yard.
Searches carried out when the 50 individuals were apprehended reportedly led to the discovery and seizure of about 25 pounds of illegal drugs and dozens of unregistered firearms. Eight assault rifles were seized, and the narcotics haul included heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine. The alleged gang members and their alleged associates face charges including drug possession, firearms possession, conspiracy to commit homicide, conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Comprehensive law enforcement operations that lead to the apprehension of dozens of suspects often place prosecutors under a great deal of pressure. However, the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation may not be sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt against all of the suspects taken into custody. In situations like this, experienced criminal defense attorneys might ask for significant concessions in return for a guilty plea and even more favorable terms if their clients agree to cooperate with police.