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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Bust of Violent Norteño Gang in Tulare County

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

TULARE – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrest of 52 individuals as part of an ongoing investigation into violent Norteño gang activity in Tulare County, following a rash of homicides in the region. 

“This operation captured dangerous criminals accused of terrorizing Central Valley communities through murder and violence,” said Attorney General Harris.  “We will continue to target violent street gangs by dismantling their networks and taking these dangerous criminals off our streets. I thank our DOJ Special Agents and local law enforcement partners for their dedicated work to keeping our communities safe.”

The TARGET Task Force, the Tulare County Sheriff's Department, the Visalia Police Department, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol’s Fresno-based Special Operations Unit (SOU) jointly conducted the multi-month investigation and today’s takedown.  

The TARGET Task Force was created by Attorney General Harris in 2011 and includes the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation, Visalia Police Department, Tulare County Sheriff's Department, Tulare Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.

"The collaboration demonstrated by multiple law enforcement agencies, including our partners at the Department of Justice, have proved very successful today,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Keeping the communities safe that we have been entrusted with protecting is of utmost importance to the CHP. I very much appreciate the professionalism of all of those who carried out this dangerous operation."

Today’s Operation Red Sol, a multi-agency gang takedown, led to the arrest of 52 individuals, including Pedro “Pistol Pete” Sanchez, a Norteño leader in charge of running the gang’s illicit day-to-day operations.  Those arrested face felony charges ranging from conspiracy to commit homicide, attempted homicide, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, extortion, home invasion, weapons possession and sales of narcotics. 

This is the most violent group of Norteño gang members investigated by the Department of Justices’s Special Operations Unit to date. Over the course of the investigation, an additional 38 individuals have been arrested.

The operation also resulted in the seizure of $34,000 in cash, six firearms and small amounts of narcotics.

The case will be prosecuted by the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

In 2014, Attorney General Harris and California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow secured $9.4 million in funding for California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation’s SOU teams. These unique and essential teams are a partnership between DOJ and CHP, using the latest technology and advanced investigative techniques to work alongside local law enforcement to enhance investigations into violent criminals and organized crime throughout the state.

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