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Atty. Gen. Brown Announces Norteno Gang Crackdown In Stockton

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837

STOCKTON--California Department of Justice special agents, in partnership with the Stockton Police Department, today arrested members of the violent Norteno street gang, which terrorized Stockton with drive-by shootings and crystal methamphetamine trafficking at the direction of the Nuestra Familia prison mafia.

“The Norteno street gang increased its drug trafficking and violent criminal activity in Stockton after our gang suppression team shut down one of its competitors, the Loc Town Crips, last year,” said Attorney General Brown. “Today’s crackdown demonstrates the importance of keeping relentless pressure on gangs that sell crystal meth and terrorize the public. The Stockton Police Department should be commended for its efforts to drive this street gang out of the city.”

The California Department of Justice Gang Suppression Enforcement Team, known as GSET, joined the Stockton Police Department in October 2007 to crack down on a violent Norteno gang which had recently increased its activity in Stockton. Last year, state agents shut down a violent Cambodian street gang in Stockton, the Loc Town Crips. The elimination of the Crips gang increased the opportunity for Nortenos to traffic crystal methamphetamine and commit assaults and drive by shootings.

“In the fight against gang violence in California it is important to follow-up after a crime sweep to prevent gang activity from returning,” said Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Assistant Chief Jerry Hunter “This crackdown demonstrates that the attorney general’s gang enforcement team is committed to running meth traffickers out of town.”

Norteno gang members in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties have committed an increasing number of gang-related shootings, stabbings, carjackings and residential robberies according to Stockton Police Department Detective James Ridenour. Today the Norteno street gang, which was first identified in the City of Stockton in 1990, has approximately 1,180 members and associates in Stockton.

This morning state agents and local police arrested 8 validated gang members and 6 affiliates, served 9 search warrants, conducted 4 parole searches and 2 probation searches. Agents seized 15 guns including 1 nine millimeter semi-automatic handgun, 2 rifles, 1 shotgun and various other handguns and ammunition. Agents also seized cocaine, methamphetamine, $42,000, and are a continuing to serve search warrants in Tracy, Lodi and Stockton.

All gang members arrested could face from three years up to 25 years to life in prison depending upon the charges which include possession of crystal meth for sales, weapons violations, conspiracies and participation in criminal street gangs and street terrorism including Penal Code Section 186.22.

The Nortenos arrested today were involved in street level drug trafficking, conspiracies to commit assault and multiple weapons violations. During the investigation which led to today’s arrests, agents arrested 14 suspected gang members in Tracy, Lodi and Stockton.

Nortenos are a Hispanic street gang controlled by Nuestra Familia, a rival of the Mexican Mafia, which was organized in Folsom State Prison in 1968 are operates primarily in the northern parts of California. The two prison mafias divide California into northern and southern territories through a line that runs between Delano to Salinas. Norteno gang members advertise their gang affiliation with symbols including the number 14, “209”, and “XIV” in graffiti, on clothing, and on tattoos. The gang members often claim the color red.

Agencies involved in today’s crackdown include the California Department of Justice Gang Suppression Enforcement Team, Stockton Police Department, Lodi Police Department, Tracy Police Department, Manteca Police, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, The Central Valley Gang Impact Team, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, California Highway Patrol, San Joaquin County Probation, State Parole, and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.

The California Department of Justice launched the Gang Suppression Enforcement Team in 2006 in response to rising levels of street gang and violent criminal activity in California. There are gang suppression teams Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco and Fresno which disrupt the organizational flow of gangs to fight for a terror-free environment in California by:

• Identifying key gang leaders and ultimately dismantling the organization’s hierarchy
• Seizing street gang assets
• Gathering intelligence and sharing analysis with law enforcement agencies

State investigators often assist local law enforcement when the gang problem has become so severe that the crime is bleeding into neighboring jurisdictions. Approximately 27 percent of all California homicides between 1996 and 2005 were gang related.

For more information on the role of special agents in the California Department of Justice visit: http://www.ag.ca.gov/monthly_feature/index.php

For additional information on today’s arrests please contact the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8209.

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