SACRAMENTO – On May 10, 2017 California Department of Justice special agents, along with local and federal law enforcement officers, arrested 49 people and seized
- more than 120 firearms, including assault rifles and automatic weapons;
- $170,261 in currency;
- cocaine, marijuana and 6.5 pounds of methamphetamine with a total street value of $1.7 million.
The arrests and seizures were part of a takedown of Sureno criminal street gang members operating in Merced County.
The operation involved more than 500 law enforcement officers and was the product of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Investigation, Special Operations Unit (SOU), Central California team, the Merced Area Gang and Narcotic Enforcement Team (MAGNET), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).
"Merced County residents should sleep a little easier tonight after today's arrest of gang members and seizure of firearms and drugs," said Attorney General Becerra. "Keeping our communities safe must be our number one priority. Today's bust is a prime example of law enforcement working together at all levels to put criminals behind bars."
Charges against those arrested include assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to traffic firearms and drugs, and possession of firearms and ammunition by prohibited persons in the benefit of the Merced County Sureños criminal enterprise.
The year-long investigation chronicles a rise in violent crime involving Sureño gang members and its leadership. So far, at least eight homicides and violent assaults have been solved, and 16 additional violent crimes in the planning stages were prevented.
"These types of investigations often put special agents and their fellow law enforcement officers in grave danger," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "I am thankful they are all returning home safely to their families and for their work helping the residents of Merced County and California to feel safer."