Criminal Division

Attorney General Bonta, Law Enforcement Partners Announce 41 Arrests, Over 60 Pounds of Narcotics Seized and 27 Guns Confiscated in Operation Red Rooster

May 30, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

MERCED — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, alongside law enforcement partners, announced the results of "Operation Red Rooster" which was focused on the Norteño criminal street gang activity in Merced County. After 18 months, the operation concluded this morning with 41 arrests, over 60 pounds of narcotics seized, and 27 guns confiscated. The suspects are facing homicide, attempted homicide, gun trafficking and drug trafficking charges with gang enhancements. 

“Operation Red Rooster was a success because of the hard work of so many dedicated law enforcement partners,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I am proud of our Special Agents for their unwavering commitment to this investigation, and I'm grateful for the work of our law enforcement partners here in Merced County and statewide, as we stand together to combat gang violence. Our work to address the organized criminal street gang crisis is saving lives and making communities safer — but there is more to be done. We won’t rest until California communities are free from gang activity, including here in the Central Valley.”

“The operation leading to today’s arrests reflects incredible teamwork between our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and our shared commitment to keeping our communities safe from violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. “This type of collaborative effort is critical to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations engaged in violent crime and drug trafficking.”

“This operation is a testament to what can be accomplished when we all work together toward a common goal," said Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira. "Because of this work, the people of Merced County are going to sleep tonight in a safer, better community.” 

“The destruction of human life and scale of violence by the Norteño Street Gangs in the region is the major reason the law enforcement agencies of all related jurisdictions have partnered to investigate, arrest, and prosecute this transnational criminal organization,” said Homeland Security Investigations San Francisco / NorCal Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “We know from investigations that these criminals often times prey on their own immigrant communities who are trying to earn an honest living and raise their families in peace and our joint law enforcement efforts strive to accomplish this goal by removing these menaces from our society. HSI San Francisco appreciates the work by the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team (MAGNET), California DOJ Special Operations Unit, CHP, CDCR, Merced County Sheriff’s Office, Merced County Probation Department, Merced County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Merced PD, Livingston PD, FBI, DEA, USPIS, ATFE, and all other contributing agencies.” 

“This operation exemplifies CDCR's dedication to serving communities and enhancing public safety,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber. “We are committed to leveraging all our resources, both within and beyond correctional facilities, to create safer and more secure communities.”

“Today marks a significant step forward in our unified mission to build safer communities throughout this region. As a member of the Merced Area Gang and Narcotic Enforcement Team (MAGNET), the FBI is proud to join forces with our law enforcement partners on this collaborative effort,” stated FBI Sacramento Special Agent in Charge Sid Patel. “By combining our resources and aligning our respective strengths, we are disrupting gang violence and keeping our communities safe.”

The investigation began in 2021 after the Livingston Police Department investigated a homicide and attempted homicide that was connected to the Norteño criminal street gang. While one of the shooters was arrested, the other remained at large. The operation grew as more agencies and resources were devoted to the long-term investigation into the Norteño criminal street gang activity in Merced County. The joint operation included officers from California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Merced Area Gang and Narcotic Enforcement Team (MAGNET), DOJ Special Operation Unit, Merced County District Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Merced County Sheriff, Merced Police Department, Livingston Police Department, Merced County Probation Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

MAGNET is a California DOJ, Bureau of Investigation-led multiagency task force, federally funded through the national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. It is comprised of members from the California Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Federal Bureau of Investigations, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Special Services Unit, Merced County Sheriff's Office, Merced Police Department, Merced County Probation Department, Merced County District Attorney's Office, Los Banos Police Department, Livingston Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Special Operations Unit (SOU) is a collaborative investigative effort with the California DOJ and the California Highway Patrol that provides statewide enforcement for combating violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups. The SOU evaluates and validates information by examining critical records and conducting field surveillances to identify methods of operation as well as the focus on the organizational hierarchy networks. Personnel conduct undercover operations to gather evidence leading to the arrest and prosecution of the principals involved. Emphasis is placed on target selection to ensure the elimination of the criminal organization rather than just the arrest of easily replaced members. The SOU provides critical support to the task forces and local agencies, while focusing on organized crime groups, violent career criminals, and violent gangs. SOU’s resources and expertise augment the capabilities of local agencies.


Attorney General Bonta, District Attorney Stephan Announce Sentencing of Travel Agent for Embezzling Funds from School Trips Canceled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

May 15, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Martin paid $256,997.65 in restitution to victims

SAN DIEGO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta and San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan this week announced that defendant Marie Martin, a San Diego-based travel agent and registered seller of travel, was sentenced to six months of home confinement and six months of felony probation for embezzling travel funds from more than 150 parents who paid for eighth-grade school trips to the East Coast. After the school trips were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin refused to provide refunds to the parents, instead spending funds on personal expenses. Following her guilty plea in January, as part of the sentencing, Martin paid $256,997.65 in restitution to victims.

“Parents all over California are willing to spend their time and money to give their children a better life. Marie Martin financially took advantage of more than 150 families during an already traumatic and financially challenging time,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I am proud to fight for the rights of consumers and thank the San Diego District Attorney’s Office for their partnership in investigating and prosecuting this case.”

“This defendant’s disgraceful crimes cheated parents who are working to give their children expanded educational opportunities that would broaden their horizons,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “Together with the Attorney General, our Consumer Protection Unit delivered justice and restitution to the families who were defrauded out of their hard-earned income.” 

In early 2019, Martin solicited funds from parents at nine schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties for eighth-grade school trips to Washington, D.C., and the East Coast. The school trips were supposed to take place in 2020, but were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the parents who paid for these trips requested refunds, Martin declined. Instead, she allegedly used client funds for personal expenses, including credit card purchases, rent, and artwork. The investigation revealed that even before the pandemic, Martin was experiencing cash flow problems and commingling client funds. Because Martin had used the parents’ funds for personal expenses, she was unable to refund parents when the pandemic halted all travel. 

The Attorney General’s Office operates the Seller of Travel Program, which registers travel agents and certain other travel businesses operating in California. The Attorney General, local district attorneys, and city attorneys can bring enforcement actions against sellers of travel for violations of the law. Any Californian who believes they have been wronged by a seller of travel is encouraged to contact their local district attorney and/or local law enforcement agency, and file a complaint with our office at ‪ California consumers who suffer losses due to a registered seller of travel’s failure to provide travel services or refunds may be eligible to file a restitution claim with The Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation.


Attorney General Bonta Files Felony Charges Against the Los Angeles Ethics and Integrity Assistant District Attorney

April 24, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the filing of charges against Diana Teran, the Assistant District Attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s (LADA) Office. After an extensive investigation, the California Department of Justice charged Teran with 11 felony violations of Penal Code section 502, subdivision (c)(2), alleging repeated and unauthorized use of data from confidential, statutorily-protected peace officer files. Penal Code section 502, subdivision (c)(2) prohibits the use of data from a government computer system without permission. 
“No one is above the law,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Public officials are called to serve the people and the State of California with integrity and honesty. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the people of California and hold those who break the law accountable.”
It is alleged Teran accessed computer data including numerous confidential peace officer files in 2018, while working as a Constitutional Policing Advisor at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and, after joining the LADA in January 2021, impermissibly used that data at the LADA.
A copy of the complaint can be found here. 

Attorney General Bonta Announces Citrus Heights Sex Offender Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Possession of Child Pornography

April 11, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Bonta today announced 41-year-old Christopher Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession of child pornography after he was arrested during an undercover operation to combat child sexual predators within Sacramento County. On February 27, 2023, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team (HT/SPAT), along with Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force in the joint operation. The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California prosecuted the case.

“Let this conviction serve as a warning to those who harm children: You will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our office is fighting on behalf of the most vulnerable Californians in the field and in the courtroom. I am thankful for the hard work of our Special Agents during this operation and all our partners who work collaboratively with our regional Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension teams throughout the state. When we work together, we get results.”

During the operation, Campbell contacted an undercover HT/SPAT agent to engage in sexual misconduct. It was discovered that Campbell was a registered sex offender, and a search warrant revealed that Campbell had approximately 517 images and 45 videos of child pornography on his iPad and cellphone. Law enforcement also searched Campbell’s cloud storage account, which contained approximately 169 videos of child pornography, including depictions of toddlers and other minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. On April 9, 2024, Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Campbell was subject to an enhanced statutory penalty for possession of child pornography because he had a prior conviction relating to sexual abuse involving a minor.

The mission of the HT/SPAT program is to disrupt and dismantle violent human trafficking and child exploitation organizations through a comprehensive, collaborative, and statewide response. This program is committed to using a victim-centered approach to aggressively investigate, identify, and recover victims of the brutal crime of forced labor and sexual exploitation for profit or gain by human traffickers and sexual predators. The HT/SPAT program works closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify emerging human trafficking trends in order to dismantle domestic and transnational criminal organizations. This program educates communities by providing tools on how to identify human trafficking and works with non-governmental organizations to provide resources and services to victims and survivors.

Attorney General Bonta Announces the Seizure of 30,000 Fentanyl Pills and Arrests of Three Drug Traffickers

January 26, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SAN DIEGO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced that the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Fentanyl Enforcement Program arrested and filed charges against three drug traffickers alleged to be responsible for bringing 30,000 fentanyl pills across the Mexico and California border. The investigation and arrests were a joint effort of the Fentanyl Enforcement Program and the Inland Crackdown Allied Task Force led by DOJ.  

“California is all-in when it comes to addressing fentanyl and protecting the safety of our communities,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Fentanyl is a threat to our communities as it is cheap, potent, and very lethal. Fentanyl can be disguised in common drugs, and just a small amount is enough to potentially kill a user. We urge Californians, especially our youth, to steer clear of this lethal drug and other drugs that could be laced with fentanyl. I am proud of the special agents working hard in our Fentanyl Enforcement Program, and confident that our investigative resources and legal support will help stop the flow of fentanyl into our state and keep it out of our communities.”

 Prosecution will be handled by DOJ’s Special Prosecutions Section. The criminal complaint alleges felony charges for the sale or transportation of a controlled substance and possession/purchase of a controlled substance for sale.

In April 2021, Attorney General Bonta established the statewide Fentanyl Enforcement Program that is designed to detect, deter, disrupt, and dismantle criminal fentanyl operations and prevent fentanyl from reaching California neighborhoods and communities. The program is housed in California DOJ’s Bureau of Investigation, which works with allied task forces, including local and federal law enforcement partners throughout California. This work has touched many communities through operations that remove fentanyl from numerous California communities and to advance legal actions to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable.

More information about Attorney General Bonta’s strategies to address the fentanyl crisis can be found at

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

It is important to note that criminal charges are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.


Attorney General Bonta Announces Arrest of a Licensed Fiduciary for Stealing $2.5 Million from Clients

January 5, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,


LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Rob Bonta, together with Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), today announced the arrest of and charges against a licensed Professional Fiduciary who stole over $2.5 million dollars from 12 clients in assets she was hired to protect and manage. The suspect managed many special need trusts, conservatorships and power of attorney involving adult dependents or elderly clients that relied on her to provide fiduciary services. The suspect allegedly transferred money from a special needs or conservator account into her own personal account for personal use. 

“Bad actors who prey on the most vulnerable in our state will be brought to justice,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our elders deserve to be treated with dignity, not as puppets to further the agendas of selfish individuals. The California Department of Justice is committed to defending the rights of our most vulnerable and holding their abusers accountable."

“We are grateful for the opportunity to assist in this investigation,” said Rebecca May, Chief of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau. “Licensees of the Bureau are responsible for providing critical care to a vulnerable population. The Bureau is committed to consumer protection, and we thank our law enforcement partners who share in our consumer protection goal and the Bureau staff who worked diligently on this matter.”

The investigation conducted by LAPD and DOJ's White Collar Investigation Team (WCIT) found that the suspect managed many Special Need Trusts and Conservatorships involving adult dependents or elder clients that rely on her to provide fiduciary services. Evidence showed that the suspect transferred money from a Special Needs /Conservator Account and into her own personal account for personal use. This resulted in a collective loss to 12 victims in the amount of 2.5 million dollars.

LAPD arrested the suspect on Friday, January 5 and prosecution will be handled by DOJ’s Special Prosecutions Section. The charges include Theft from an Elder and Dependent Adult by a Caretaker [PC 368(e)(1)] and Grand Theft [PC 487(a)], as well as special allegations for excessive losses. The Los Angeles Police Department’s Commercial Crimes Division (CCD), Valley Financial Section is seeking the public’s help identifying additional victims. If you have been a victim or have information about this investigation, please contact Detective III Adriano at (818)374-9420.  During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).

Attorney General Bonta Announces Arrest of Wanted Fugitive Who Stole Over $4.3 Million from California Recycling Fund

December 14, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

 Suspect fled the country after stealing millions of dollars from the California Recycling Fund

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrest of the head of a large-scale, multistate recycling fraud ring who stole approximately $4.3 million from the California Recycling Fund. On December 9, 2023, California Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Recycle Fraud Team worked with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Phoenix Police Department to arrest the suspect who had fled the United States and was considered a fugitive since March 2022. 

“Let this be a strong warning to anyone seeking to steal from California citizens: We will find you, and we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Fraudulent criminal activity, such as the schemes orchestrated by this individual and others, results in the annual loss of millions of dollars from the California Recycling Fund and negatively impacts our economy. I am thankful to our local and federal law enforcement partners for their work in this investigation.” 

DOJ’s investigative team discovered that the ringleader would control the gathering of empty beverage containers from out of state and then work with accomplices to bring them into California to collect money from the California Recycling Fund. On March 16, 2022, the suspect was charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with Grand Theft (PC 487), Conspiracy PC 182, and illegal importation of out of state empty beverage containers PRC 14591(b)(1)(F) and a warrant was issued for their arrest.   

The suspect then fled the United States, however DOJ continued to track their location and learned they would be returning to Arizona in December 2023. DOJ agents worked with Arizona and federal law enforcement partners, resulting in the arrest of the ringleader by CBP at the Phoenix International Airport. The suspect was booked into a Phoenix Police Department jail and awaits extradition to California for prosecution by DOJ’s Special Prosecutions Section.

The objective of the Recycle Fraud Program is to detect and stop existing fraud by organized criminal groups against the California Redemption Value fund and to deter future fraud through the successful prosecution of criminal activity. The Recycle Fraud Team is part of DOJ’s Division of Law Enforcement’s Bureau of Investigation. Special Agents work throughout California and in neighboring states, investigating organizations that commit large scale fraud against California’s extremely important recycling program. Fraud committed against the people of California comes in many forms and criminal elements have no boundaries when it comes to profiting. Together with CalRecycle, the program has been responsible for the arrest and prosecution of individuals committing fraud against the CRV fund and for the seizure of tons of material that was destined to be illegally redeemed for payment by the State of California.


Attorney General Bonta Announces Applications Are Now Open for the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant Program

December 6, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,


OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced that applications are now being accepted for the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant Program. This program is administered by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and provides funding to assist local law enforcement agencies in submitting and DNA testing of sexual assault evidence. The Budget Act of 2021 appropriated $4 million in grant funding to assist law enforcement agencies statewide.

“This grant is a step forward in our fight against sexual assault in California,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “It supports and honors the courageous individuals who come forward about their experiences of sexual assault and go through the necessary steps to provide evidence. I am grateful for the valuable contributions of our partners across the state in this critical battle. Funds from the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant will assist them in protecting the vulnerable and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

Interested law enforcement agencies are encouraged to learn more about the grant program, the eligibility criteria, and the Request for Applications (RFA) process. This RFA is a non-competitive application process that is reimbursing eligible agencies for costs incurred during the submission and testing process. Grant funds are not designed to sustain a project but are intended to supplement existing funds to help agencies submit and test sexual assault evidence.

Eligible agencies must submit a completed application to DOJ by February 5, 2024. All grant applications must be emailed to by 5:00 PM (PDT). No late applications will be accepted. 

A complete application package includes the following:

  • Application Cover Sheet (Word Document)
  • Letter of Intent (Word Document)
  • Project Budget (Excel)

A copy of the RFA is available for download here.  

Agencies who are interested in applying for funds should request amounts based on their need. The grant period for the use of these funds will begin on or around March 1, 2024 and will end March 1, 2027. Questions concerning the application process may be directed to the DOJ at See Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant Program website for more information.



Attorney General Bonta Announces Arrest of Suspect for Mariposa Homicide

December 1, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,


MARIPOSA COUNTY — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrest of a suspect for the murder of Wendy Pullins in Mariposa, California. The suspect, Justin Bolton, was located by investigators on November 9, 2023, in Willits, California.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of Wendy Pullins, but we are grateful that justice has been served today,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This arrest serves as a powerful reminder to our community that individuals who commit heinous crimes will face consequences. We express our immense gratitude for the unwavering dedication of our law enforcement allies in resolving this case.”
“While this case has been a long one, our focus never wavered to find Wendy and arrest those involved in her disappearance and eventual murder,” said Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese. “I want to thank the multiple agencies, including the California Department of Justice, for their assistance and support.”
Pullins was first reported missing in 2022, which was later determined to be a suspicious death, in 2023. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Special Operation Unit in collaboration with Mariposa Sheriff's Office, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Vallejo Police Department.
Through collaboration, the DOJ Special Operations 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. The California Department of Justice is hiring. Visit to view available positions and learn how you can help DOJ protect the health, well-being, and public safety of Californians.

Attorney General Bonta Secures Court Decision Allowing Vital Data Sharing with Gun Violence Researchers

November 20, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

California appellate court rejects trial court decision blocking implementation of AB 173

 SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced securing a court decision by the California Court of Appeal allowing the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue sharing data with gun violence researchers to better direct strategies to prevent gun violence.  The order allows DOJ to provide the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center and other qualified researchers with data under Assembly Bill 173 (AB 173) necessary to conduct research evaluating the leading causes and impacts of gun violence and effective responses.

“The court’s decision is a victory in our ongoing efforts to prevent gun violence,” said Attorney General Bonta. “AB 173’s information-sharing serves the important goal of enabling research that supports informed policymaking aimed at reducing and preventing firearm violence. Research and data are vital in our efforts to prevent gun violence in California and provide a clear path to help us save lives.”

Since the 1950’s, California state law has required DOJ to maintain records of handgun sales in California, and recently added sales of long guns and ammunition. This data provides a unique opportunity for research not available anywhere else. Since at least 1989, researchers at the University of California, Davis have been utilizing that data in studies aimed at understanding and preventing various forms of firearm violence. In 2016, the Legislature directed the Regents of the University of California to establish a Firearm Violence Research Center (the Center) with the goals of producing interdisciplinary research addressing the nature and consequences of firearm violence, and working with policymakers to identify, implement, and evaluate innovative firearm violence prevention policies and programs.

To aid in those goals, the Legislature mandated through AB 173 that DOJ provide the Center (and, at the Attorney General’s discretion, other qualified researchers) with this firearms data. In October 2022, one individual gun owner and a handful of gun rights organizations sued DOJ, arguing that sharing information with these researchers under AB 173 violated their privacy rights under the California Constitution. On Friday, November 17, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, reversed an erroneous decision by the San Diego County Superior Court which barred DOJ from sharing the information. When this ruling is implemented, DOJ will again be free to follow AB 173 and transfer this firearms data to researchers for critical and lifesaving research. 

This victory comes after Attorney General Bonta released the first-ever Office of Gun Violence Prevention Data Report in August 2023, shedding further light on the impact of gun violence in California and the nation. The report provides a robust review of gun violence data in California and throughout the nation to help guide policy and strategy discussions related to reducing gun violence. A copy of the report is available here.

On November 6, 2023, Attorney General Bonta released the second data report issued by the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, providing an in-depth look at the ties between domestic violence and firearms. The report examines data illustrating the impact of firearms-related domestic violence, including both family and intimate partner-related violence with firearms.