FRESNO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, together with U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor Scott and representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement, today announced the arrest of 25 individuals associated with Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in the State. The arrests are part of a multi-agency operation, known as Blue Inferno, that has resulted in the arrest of multiple individuals in California and other states.
The months-long investigation began after 14 murders occurred in or around the City of Mendota, many of which were believed to be connected to MS-13 drug trafficking. Investigators found evidence of broad criminal activity, including murder, assault, firearms possession, and drug trafficking activity. The intelligence obtained during this investigation has helped solve several homicides and prevent violent crimes throughout the United States and abroad.
“When you terrorize communities, you must pay the price,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today’s announced operation will lead to the vigorous prosecution and, I believe, conviction of violent criminal gang members. Operation Blue Inferno is a successful display of the dedication and hard work of our combined law enforcement personnel. We will continue working alongside our federal and local law enforcement partners to ensure safety and security for every California family.”
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott stated, “The operation leading to today’s arrests reflects the incredible teamwork between our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and our shared commitment to keeping our communities safe from violent criminal gangs like MS-13. This investigation had impacts not only in Fresno County, but across the state and country as we were able to provide information and leads to law enforcement in Los Angeles, Nevada, Texas, New York, and elsewhere to help prevent and solve serious crimes, including murder. Criminal enterprises like MS-13 will not be tolerated in any of our towns, no matter how small.”
“Operation Blue Inferno is an example of what happens when law enforcement agencies from the federal, state and local levels work together to eradicate criminal street gangs. MS-13’s cell in Fresno County is now destroyed, and we will continue to work together to keep them out of our communities. The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office is proud to have been an essential part of Operation Blue Inferno and is grateful to all our law enforcement partners who made these arrests possible,” said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp.
“This multi-agency operation will result in the disruption of MS-13 activity across the Nation. I appreciate the cooperation of all agencies involved to work together to help dismantle this extremely violent transnational gang. I am confident that our work will restore a stronger sense of safety for people living in the communities these gang members have been terrorizing,” said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.
“The FBI is committed to aggressively investigating and disrupting gang activity. Through the Safe Streets Task Force and the Transnational Anti-Gang Initiative, the FBI leverages resources to target MS-13 — the first and only street gang to be designated by the United States government as a transnational criminal organization — by focusing on the gang’s structure and leadership,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “To ensure success, the FBI is committed to working in close cooperation with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcements partners to coordinate operations and share information.”
“Global criminal organizations like the MS-13 strike fear into our local communities here in the United States by committing violent and often brutal crimes in our backyards; but by all levels of law enforcement working together, their vicious and dangerous acts will not go unpunished,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, HSI Special Agent in Charge for northern California and northern Nevada. “While transnational gangs may have tentacles that reach globally, Homeland Security Investigations does as well and is well‑equipped to intercept these threats to our national security.”
Operation Blue Inferno was the product of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, federal Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium.
The Special Operations Unit is a collaborative investigative effort between the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol that provides statewide enforcement to combat violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, along with intrastate drug traffickers.