Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 10:57 am | Fair 70º


Suspected Gang Members Arrested Throughout Central Coast

A multiagency investigation has identified eight gangs involved in criminal activities

A joint law-enforcement investigation has resulted in the arrest of 51 suspected gang members and their associates with ties to drug trafficking throughout the Central Coast of California.

Since November 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Maria Police Department have been conducting a joint investigation targeting the drug trafficking activities of street gangs throughout the Central Coast.

The investigation identified eight Sureno Gangs involved in various criminal activities, including the distribution of narcotics. The street gangs are West Park, North West, Tangas 13, Guadalup 13, Nipomo 13, Oceano 13, 12th Street Locos and Colonia Chiques.

The investigation also resulted in the seizure of more than 19 pounds of methamphetamine, a methamphetamine conversion laboratory, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, small amounts of crack cocaine, 25 pounds of marijuana, 35 firearms, including assault rifles and pipe bombs, $800,000 in U.S. currency and property, including a Porsche Panamera with an estimated value of $95,000.

The July 13-21 investigation concluded with about 40 officers and agents from multiple law enforcement agencies conducting search warrants at 15 locations in Santa Maria, Tanglewood, San Jose and Stanton, which resulted in the arrests of eights individuals, and complaints are expected to be sought against eight more.

In May, more than 140 officers and agents participated in the initial enforcement phase of this investigation conducting more than 40 search warrants and arresting 29 individuals on various charges, including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, street terrorism and firearms violations.

“Criminal street gangs are the primary retail distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of our communities,” said Timothy Landrum, DEA special agent in charge. “The threat is magnified by the high levels of violence associated with their attempts to control and expand drug distribution operations. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement counterparts to ensure that these drug gangs will no longer wreak havoc in our communities.”

Lt. Sonny LeGault of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department’s Narcotics Bureau, said, “Our narcotics detectives are seeing a rise in meth use here in Santa Barbara County. But make no mistake: This is not a local problem, it’s a global problem. That’s why it’s so important for law enforcement agencies to work together. When we do, drug traffickers find out the hard way what happens when they try to move their deadly products through California, Santa Barbara County and the cities within.”

Sgt. Greg Carroll of the Santa Maria Police Department said it was “the third joint investigation between the Santa Maria PD, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and the DEA, and it is a great example of the continued success achieved in these joint operations.”

The case is being prosecuted by Santa Barbara Deputy District Attorney Meghan Ross.

— Timothy Landrum is a special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration.


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