TULARE – On October 1, 2015, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrest of 52 individuals as part of an ongoing investigation into violent Norteño gang activity in Tulare County, following a rash of homicides in the region.
“This operation captured dangerous criminals accused of terrorizing Central Valley communities through murder and violence,” said Attorney General Harris. “We will continue to target violent street gangs by dismantling their networks and taking these dangerous criminals off our streets. I thank our DOJ special agents and local law enforcement partners for their dedicated work to keeping our communities safe.”
For months, DOJ special agents worked the Tulare County Sheriff's Department, the Visalia Police Department, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol to put a stop to the criminals and the crimes they were committing.
"These are very dangerous situations for the special agents and law enforcement officers involved," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "Investigating violent, career criminals who live a life of drugs, guns and terrorism, and who have nothing to lose, puts these agents, deputies and officers in harm's way."
Operation Red Sol, as it was called, led to the arrest of 52 suspects, including Pedro “Pistol Pete” Sanchez, a Norteño leader in charge of running the gang’s illicit day-to-day operations. Those arrested face felony charges ranging from conspiracy to commit homicide, attempted homicide, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, extortion, home invasion, weapons possession and sales of narcotics.
This is the most violent group of Norteño gang members investigated by the Department of Justice's Special Operations Unit to date. Over the course of the investigation, an additional 38 individuals have been arrested.
The operation also resulted in the seizure of $34,000 in cash, six firearms and small amounts of narcotics.