Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Takedown Operation of Violent Merced Street Gang
MERCED – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the takedown of a Merced area street gang that included the arrest of 75 individuals and the seizure of $85,000 in cash, 5,000 pirated DVDs, firearms, and narcotics. The multi-agency takedown targeted gang members from the Merced County Nortenos street gang.
“This operation captured dangerous criminals that are suspected of committing homicides throughout the Central Valley,” Attorney General Harris said. “We will continue to dismantle violent street and prison gang networks by cutting off their flow of money, recruits and communications. I want to thank our DOJ agents and local law enforcement partners for their work on the front lines of this fight every day.”
The investigation, named Operation Red Right Hand, represents the culmination of a five monthlong joint investigation by the California Department of Justice and California Highway Patrol’s Special Operations Unit, Merced Police Department, Merced County Sheriff’s Department, Merced County District Attorney's Office, Merced Multi-Agency Narcotic Task Force (a Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) team), Atwater Police Department, Los Banos Police Department, Merced County Probation Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Parole Division.
Operation Red Right Hand began after a series of gang related homicides in Merced County that started in 2013. The multi-agency investigation aimed to identify Nortenos gang members and associates most likely to participate in or carry out violent crime, dismantle the sources of income for the gang, remove known recruiters within the organization and disrupt communications.
The investigation found that the Nortenos had authorized a war against the Crip criminal street gangs in Merced. In addition, investigators learned that Nuestra Familia, a California prison gang, had instructed the local Nortenos gang to kill and assault members who decided to drop out of the organization.
Today’s joint investigation resulted in the seizure of 5,000 pirated DVDs, 1,500 pseudoephedrine pills, $85,000 in cash, 11 firearms, four pounds of methamphetamine, three pounds of cocaine, one pound of heroin and 50 pounds of marijuana. In addition, law enforcement arrested 75 gang members and associates over the course of the operation. The suspects are charged with homicide, attempted homicide, accessory to murder or attempted murder, conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon and assault likely to produce great bodily injury, weapons possession, and sales of narcotics or counterfeit items.
In 2014, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow worked with the Legislature and Governor Brown’s administration to secure $9.4 million for California DOJ Bureau of Investigation’s SOU teams. These unique and essential teams are a partnership between DOJ and CHP and use 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.