South Bay News

31 arrested in Gilroy gang sweep

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A massive raid targeting powerful Gilroy gang members resulted in 31 arrests in the South Bay this morning, Gilroy police said.

A coalition of 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies served search and arrest warrants and apprehended 21 suspected gang members and leaders.

Ten others associated with the gangs were arrested on outstanding warrants, and five suspected gang members remain at large. Of those arrested, two are juveniles. The eldest suspect is 54 years old, police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao said. Some belong to a multi-generational gang family, he said.

The operation was carried out between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. at nine homes in the cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Hollister, San Martin, and San Jose.

Gallacinao said the suspects are all active in a Gilroy-based criminal street gang, but that police are not releasing the name of the gang.

Agents also seized drugs and two weapons during the operation.

Today's sweep is the culmination of a seven-month investigation by the Gilroy Police Department, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the California Department of Justice.

"Our intention was to dismantle this gang responsible for the vast majority of gang activity in Gilroy," Gallacinao said.

The suspects will be prosecuted by the district attorney's office for various felony crimes.

Those include shooting into an inhabited dwelling, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, criminal conspiracy, drug violations, witness intimidation and the use of juvenile offenders to commit crimes to benefit a criminal street gang, according to police.

If convicted, the suspects may be eligible for sentence enhancements, which carry increased prison terms.

Today's raid follows a similar one conducted two months ago across several counties, called "Operation Garlic Press."

In that raid, more than 100 people were arrested, 53 of them suspected gang members.

More than 150 law enforcement officers were involved in today's sweep, including members of three California Department of Justice task forces -- the Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team, Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team, and Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team.

Other agencies included the California Highway Patrol, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, Santa Clara County Probation Department, Santa Clara County Regional Auto Theft Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Police officers from Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Campbell, and Milpitas assisted.

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