SAN FRANCISCO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the successful conclusion of Operation Red Reach, a coordinated law enforcement sweep that shut down a network of local and transnational gangs that dealt in narcotics and firearms, homicide and fraud in western Contra Costa County and nearby areas.
“We are fighting transnational gangs from one end of California to another,” Attorney General Harris said. “With the cooperation of local and federal law enforcement agencies, we’re going to outmuscle, outsmart and undo them.”
San Pablo Police Chief Walt Schuld added: “Exceptional collaboration among the California Department of Justice, local law enforcement, and the FBI has resulted in the successful dismantling of this violent street gang involved in high-level drug and gun trafficking. Our community is much safer due to the tireless efforts of the agents and officers.”
Operation Red Reach, which concluded today, resulted in 35 arrests and the seizure of more than 135 pounds of methamphetamine, 26 firearms – including two assault rifles – more than $86,500 in currency and six vehicles. Police are looking into two weapons that may be tied to a homicide.
Those arrested include Joseph Abbate, aka Sherman Fisher or Butch, an identified member of the criminal street gang known as the Nortenos, which has ties to the vicious prison gang Nuestra Familia.
The operation is the latest in a series of actions by Attorney General Harris designed to attack gang violence.
In February, agents arrested three associates of a Tijuana drug cartel in a murder-for-hire plot in Southern California. Last month, the Attorney General traveled to California’s border with Mexico with law enforcement leaders to underscore the problem of transnational gangs, and earlier this month, the Attorney General announced the creation of the first multi-agency gang task force in Tulare County.
Four of every 10 homicides that occur in California are gang-related, and more than 80 percent of the California cases in which relocation is required for the protection of witnesses involve gang violence.
Operation Red Reach began in February 2009 primarily to investigate the illegal activities of Abbate. As the probe developed, investigators identified his co-conspirators, who include other members of the Nortenos gang, members of local gangs, and members of a Mexican drug trafficking cartel.
The operation, as well as the arrests and searches over the last several weeks, were conducted, in co-operation with federal agents, by an inter-agency task force known as West-NET (for West Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team). Besides the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, other members of West-NET include the Contra Costa County Sheriff; police in San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, and Kensington; and the Contra Costa Probation Office.
Search warrants were served in San Pablo, Richmond, El Sobrante, Pinole, Antioch, Pittsburg, San Rafael, Vallejo, Fairfield and Sacramento. Those arrested were booked into the San Pablo jail.