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Attorney General Bill Lockyer Announces Dismantling of Major Los Angeles Criminal Gang After Year-Long, Multi-Agency Investigation

57 Gang Members Arrested on Anniversary of CHP Officer Steiner’s Death in Pomona
Monday, April 24, 2006
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(POMONA) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today, along with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Pomona Police Department, the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT) and numerous other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, announced the arrest of 57 criminal gang members known to be associated with the Pomona 12th Street Sharkies (P12) on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to weapons and drug-related violations.

Two years ago, 16-year-old Valentino Arenas gunned down CHP Officer Thomas J. Steiner outside the Pomona Courthouse by. Arenas, who hoped to join the 12th Street Sharkies, sought to gain the gang’s attention and respect by randomly shooting and killing a law enforcement officer. P12's roots date back to the 1940s, and over the last several years it has greatly expanded its criminal enterprise to include large scale drug trafficking, extortion and murder. P12 now is one of the area’s largest and most violent gangs. The gang claims about 200 active members and has close ties to the Mexican Mafia. The murder of Officer Steiner and the gang’s record of criminal activity prompted the investigation that led to the arrests announced today.

“Criminal street gangs have plagued our state for generations, but they have now become one of the primary factors behind rising violent crime rates in cities throughout California,” Lockyer said. “These criminal enterprises destroy communities and shatter innocent lives with their evolving criminal tactics. Through the hard work of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, we are committed to taking back our streets.”

The year-long, multi-agency investigation resulted in the seizure of more than six pounds of methamphetamine worth nearly $36,000, 18 pounds of methamphetamine ice worth $162,000, 36 grams of heroin, 14 grams of cocaine, more than $23,000 in U.S. currency, 11 pistols, several rifles and shotguns, and one grenade. In addition, during the arrests beginning on Friday, agents seized nine more pounds of methamphetamine, one-half pound of heroin, 25 firearms, including an AK-47 and approximately $20,000 in U.S. currency. The investigation included the use of wiretaps, informants, extensive surveillance, and undercover agents.

“The 12th Street gang created a subculture in Pomona that condoned and encouraged criminal behavior, including murder," said Pomona Police Chief James Lewis. "I appreciate the assistance of my state, local and federal law enforcement partners in helping us rid Pomona of street gangs.”

“Friday, April 21, 2006, marks the anniversary of a tragic day for the California Highway Patrol,” CHP Southern Division Chief Gary Dominguez said. “Two years ago, Officer Tom Steiner was gunned down in front of the Pomona Courthouse by a suspected gang member. Our hearts go out to the Steiner family and all CHP employees as our pledge continues to reduce gang violence in the communities we serve.

“I sincerely hope the arrests resulting from this investigation bring a sense of justice to the Steiner family and relief from fear and intimidation to the citizens of Pomona,” LA IMPACT Director Will Telish said. “This case epitomizes the mission of LA IMPACT and it personifies the collective power of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in sending the message to gang members and their associates that criminal activity will not be tolerated.”

The Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement’s (BNE) Gang Suppression Enforcement Team (GSET), working in partnership with LA IMPACT, trained and assisted Pomona law enforcement officers on establishing wiretaps to obtain critical evidence against gang leadership. Based on evidence obtained through the wiretaps, over the last few days agents arrested 57 P12 gang members and their associates who now await prosecution. GSET consists of teams of BNE agents tasked with identifying, investigating, and deterring gang-related violent crime. The BNE agents assigned to GSET have expertise in conducting complex investigations needed to target and dismantle criminal street gangs.

“We commend law enforcement’s conscientious focus on the criminal element in the east San Gabriel and Pomona valleys that has placed that part of our county in great fear and danger,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley.

Agencies involved in the investigation and arrests include: the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force/BNE-Gang Suppression Enforcement Team; the Pomona Police Department; the California Highway Patrol; the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Justice’s Criminal Intelligence Bureau; the Department of Justice’s Firearms Division; the San Luis Obispo County Narcotics Task Force; the California Department of Corrections; the Orange County ProActive Methamphetamine Laboratory Task Force; the Azusa Police Department; the Chino Police Department; the Covina Police Department; the Fontana Police Department; the Glendora Police Department; the La Verne Police Department; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Monterey Park Police Department; the Ontario Police Department; the Pasadena Police Department; the West Covina Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office; Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Office of the Inspector General - Social Security Administration; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office will be prosecuting the cases.

Those arrested on Friday, April 21 include:

•Anthony Aguilar, 24
•William Aguilar, 45
•David Alaniz, 48
•Ambrose Almeida
•Gustavo Aragon
•Michelle Armenta
•Zoila Avila, 24
•Mario Barrera, 36
•Frankie Buelna, 59
•Darryl Castrejon, 46
•Darline Castro
•Jose Diaz, 28
•Daniel Dominguez, 32
•Julio Felix
•Dino Flores
•Jose Flores, 28
•Lourdes Flores, 36
•Alexander Garcia, 23
•Arturo Garcia, 25
•Pete Garcia, 30
•Ruben Garcia
•Dan Gerardo
•Donato Gonzales, 34
•Cheri Hernandez, 34
•Daniel Limon, 24
•Jenny Lopez, 25
•Maria Lopez, 46
•Noe Lucero
•Jaime Manzo, 42
•Michael Maldonado, Sr., 49
•Michael Maldonado, Jr.
•Jose Martinez, 31
•Victor Minguela, 24
•Daniel Miranda
•Cynthia Mora
•Alfonso Ortiz, 23
•Derek Ortiz
•Rachel Parada
•Francisco Perez
•Viviano Perez, 46
•Ricardo Polanco
•Christopher Ponce, 39
•Michael Ponce
•David Pozos, 27
•Jeff Pyle, 43
•Amelia Ramirez, 35
•Olga Ramirez, 33
•Manuel Rios, 50
•Jessie Rocha
•Steven Rodgers
•Donald Ruberio
•David Segura, 22
•Carol Smith, 29
•David Torrez, 31
•Linda Trujillo
•Teddy Trujillo, 33
•Johnny Velasquez, 24

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