On April 3rd, 2018

Gang Leader Arraigned on Grand Jury Indictment including Multiple Counts of Murder Charges related to 2015 Operation Red Sol gang sweep

VISALIA – On March 26, 2018, Pedro Sanchez, 34, of Lindsay was arraigned on a grand jury indictment on 16 felony counts including multiple counts of murder.  The indictment is for gang crimes related to 2015’s Operation Red Sol gang sweep.  Operation Red Sol was a large-scale wiretap operation conducted by California Department of Justice special agents and local law enforcement agencies.   The operation targeted the Tulare County Norteno criminal street gang.

Sanchez is charged with five counts of first-degree murder with the special allegation that the murders were committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang. On four of the murder charges, Sanchez is charged with the special allegation that a firearm was used causing death.

“This operation involved the investigation of very violent individuals, resulted in numerous arrests and removed gang members from the community,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “Special agents worked closely with local law enforcement officers in this investigation.”

Sanchez is charged with the murders of:

  • Tonya Huff on July 19, 2014, in Porterville,
  •  Noe Martinez on January 19, 2015, outside of Porterville,
  • Matthew Villegas on February 12, 2015, outside of Visalia,
  • Manuel Gonzalez on March 5, 2015, in Visalia,
  • and Alfonso Pena on May 12, 2015, outside of Porterville.

Sanchez was also charged with:

  • one count of arson,
  • one count of conspiracy to commit robbery,
  • four counts of conspiracy to commit murder,
  • and five counts of gang conspiracy to commit murder. S

Sanchez was apprehended as part of 2015’s Operation Red Sol, a multi-agency gang sweep which became the largest criminal case in Tulare County history. Originally charged with 47 counts including conspiracy, gang crimes, and attempted murder, Sanchez and 11 other gang members were indicted by a criminal grand jury in December of 2016 with 65 counts, including murder. In that indictment, Sanchez was charged with the murder of Rigoberto Santa Maria on September 17, 2015, eight counts of conspiracy to commit murder, and other gang related crimes. Sanchez was awaiting trial for this case when the new indictment was handed down.

The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office previously announced that it is seeking the death penalty against Sanchez for the 2016 grand jury indictment.

In September 2017 it was announced that as part of Operation Red Sol,

Cervando Avalos, 31, was sentenced to 28 years to life for:

  • conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery,
  • attempted home invasion robbery,
  • conspiracy to commit grand theft of marijuana,
  • grand theft of marijuana,
  • conspiracy to possess and transport cocaine for sale
  • and possession of cocaine for sale.

Special allegations included -  crimes committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang and use of a firearm.

Emanuel Avalos, 27, was sentenced to 110 years and 8 months to life for:

  • conspiracy to receive a stolen vehicle,
  • extortion,
  • conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery,
  • attempted home invasion robbery,
  • three counts of conspiracy to commit murder
  • attempted murder,
  • possession of methamphetamine for sale,
  • and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Special allegations included - crimes committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang and use of a firearm.

The conspiracies to commit murder were against a Strathmore business owner, rival gang members, and a dropout gang member.

 

 

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