SAN BERNARDINO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, San Bernardino Police Chief David Green, and San Bernardino District Attorney Jason Anderson today announced the results of a joint investigation into the Westside Verdugo criminal street gang. In June, the police department requested assistance with its investigation of the gang’s violent criminal activity from the California Department of Justice’s Special Operations Unit. Together with the district attorney’s office and other local law enforcement partners, the team made 180 felony arrests, shut down 30 illegal gambling establishments, and seized 92 handguns, 19 assault weapons, $295,870 in U.S. currency, as well as hundreds of pounds of illicit drugs over the course of the investigation. Yesterday, the investigation culminated in a largescale operation with agents executing 34 search warrants, arresting 31 suspects, and seizing 11 firearms at multiple sites in San Bernardino County.
“Members and associates of this gang have committed violent crimes in San Bernardino with no regard for the people in the community who are directly or indirectly harmed,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “This investigation and yesterday’s arrests and seizures have removed dangerous individuals from our streets and firearms from the hands of those who would choose to commit violent crimes. The results of this investigation could also assist law enforcement in solving other cases in the area. The partnership between our agents and local law enforcement made this possible, and I’m thankful to every person involved in this successful investigation.”
“As decriminalization initiatives continue to undermine the safety of our community, we have never been more reliant on our law enforcement partners,” said San Bernardino Police Chief David Green.
“The scale of this multiagency operation speaks to the commitment we have to eradicate criminal street gangs across San Bernardino County, particularly one with such a violent history as the Westside Verdugo gang,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson. “Violent crime is on the rise, and several of the defendants we have filed against are facing their 3rd strike, indicating a propensity for criminal behavior. The success of this takedown was due to the tremendous efforts of the San Bernardino Police Department and the Department of Justice in conducting the investigation, and the tenacity of our specialized gang unit prosecutors. We will use everything in our toolkit including weapon enhancements, gang enhancements, prior convictions, and prior strike convictions to ensure maximum accountability from these defendants, keeping career criminals off the streets of San Bernardino and out of our communities.”
Westside Verdugo has an extensive criminal history in the San Bernardino area. The gang is suspected of multiple violent crimes including assault, attempted murder, and murder.
Over the course of the investigation, numerous violent crimes were prevented, including shootings and armed robberies. Evidence collected during the investigation also assisted in solving two homicides in the area. Agents also shut down 30 illegal gambling establishments and seized over 100 illegal gambling machines and devices. These establishments were operated by members and associates of Westside Verdugo and brought in tens of thousands of dollars a week for the gang. In 2021, five homicides, four attempted murders, and multiple other crimes were linked to these sites.
DOJ’s Special Operations Unit is a collaborative investigative effort between DOJ and the California Highway Patrol. The unit provides statewide enforcement for combating violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, along with intrastate drug traffickers. These unique and essential teams use the latest technology and advanced investigative techniques and work alongside local law enforcement to enhance investigations into violent criminals and organized crime throughout the state.