Brown Backs Oakland Police Department's Acorn Gang Investigation, Takedown

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined the Oakland Police Department in announcing the results of “Operation Nutcracker,” a major takedown of the violent Acorn gang that has terrorized the East Bay with homicides, drug trafficking and carjacking.

“The Oakland Police Department should be commended for fighting back against the violent gangs that have terrorized the good citizens of Oakland,” Attorney General Brown told a news conference at the City of Oakland Emergency Operations Center. “California Department of Justice special agents are proud to join with Oakland Police Department during the investigation and arrest of the violent Acorn gang’s key leadership.”

During today’s slew of early morning raids, the culmination of a three month investigation, approximately 250 officers from 17 state and local law enforcement agencies arrested at least 40 suspected gang members and associates, seized 8 guns, including 1 assault weapon, and confiscated drugs including marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.

Today’s announcement marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into the Acorn gang, one of West Oakland’s most violent criminal street gangs. This morning, agents served approximately 30 search warrants in the Oakland and Northern East Bay area. The City of Oakland Emergency Operations Center at 1605 Martin Luther King Jr. in downtown Oakland was the command post for the operation.

The Acorn gang is a turf oriented criminal street gang that began its operation in the 1980s as a street level supplier of marijuana and cocaine in Oakland. During the past year, the Acorn gang had increased its violent activity against rival gang members and Oakland citizens, prompting the Oakland Police Department to concentrate investigative resources on the gang’s key leadership.

During today’s takedown, officers arrested Mark Candler, 33, one of the gang’s key leaders. Candler, also known as “MAC,” became the self-proclaimed leader of the Acorn gang at age 14. He has been a prolific drug trafficker in Oakland and Detroit, been shot several times and is suspected to be responsible for homicide and a number of shootings. He was arrested this morning in connection with an ongoing attempted murder investigation.

Last month, the California Department of Justice sent 10 special agents to provide investigative support to the Oakland Police Department during the investigation and the Acorn gang takedown. The state has facilitated surveillance of primary and secondary targets and provided additional investigative and intelligence support.

During the Oakland Police Department’s three month investigation, officers seized 31 firearms, captured 3 murder suspects and numerous robbery and assault suspects including the perpetrators of the Milano’s & Red Boy Pizza robberies. An Oakland Police Department analysis of West Oakland crime statistics indicates a 66 percent decrease in shootings and a 28 percent decrease in robberies since officers began targeting the Acorn gang with aggressive enforcement.

Law enforcement agencies which assisted the Oakland Police Department during the investigation and today’s takedown include the California Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Special agents in the California Department of Justice often temporarily assist local law enforcement when gang problems have become so severe that the crime is bleeding into neighboring jurisdictions. State agents have recently led operations to shut down a Norteno street gang in Stockton, a Crip gang in Atwater and a violent Cambodian Street gang in Stockton. Brown’s special agents also participated in an East Palo Alto crime crackdown, Operation Safe Neighborhood, last year. Approximately 27 percent of all California homicides between 1996 and 2005 were gang related.

For more information about state crime crackdowns and the role of special agents in the California Department of Justice visit: For additional information on today’s operation please contact the Oakland Police Department at (510) 238-7230.

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