Norteno gang members arrested in sting
By Jeremy Lipps
June 97, 2007
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and more than 200 law
enforcement officers arrested 22 Norteno gang members in 15 cities
across Northern California on Wednesday morning, officials announced
FBI agents and law enforcement officials were in Salinas discussing
details of the simultaneous arrests, some of which were made in
Salinas, Stockton, San Francisco, Petaluma, Fremont and Castroville.
The arrests are the result of a three-year investigation that
began with the Watsonville Police Department. Officers noticed
a rise in street crime and soon linked it to a "tax'' demanded
of local Norteno street gangs by the mostly prison-situated Nuestra
Familia criminal gang, according to Marina Police Chief Eddie
Realizing the need to expand the effort to many jurisdictions,
departments began coordinated investigations eventually recruiting
agencies from the Monterey County Sheriff's Office to the FBI
to the California Department of Corrections.
Salinas police Deputy Chief Manny Solano especially praised the
Department of Corrections for their intelligence contributions
during the investigation.
"A lot of the time it seems as if there is no end in sight,''
Monterey Sheriff Mike Kanalakis said. "These investigations
take a long time to develop. In the end a lot of people were put
Among those arrested were high-ranking members to low-level street
criminals. Crimes ranged from drug possession to murder. No injuries
or deaths resulted from any of the raids, Kanalakis said.
"It had a significant impact,'' Kanalakis said about the
arrests. "Only time will tell just how big of an impact.''
The "Valley Star" operation is ongoing. Two men escaped
agents Wednesday, prompting an appeal to the public to be on the
lookout for Robert Javier Farias Portela, 24, and Faustino Gonzalez
Portela has been associated with a black 1999 Honda with license
plate 5YOU364 and Gonzalez with a white Nissan Maxima with license
"These were federal warrants,'' Kanalakis said. "These
are not individuals that will be coming back.''
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