Fifty-one suspected gang members and their associates with ties to drug trafficking throughout California's Central Coast have been arrested as a result of a joint investigation, federal officials have announced.
Since November 2009, the DEA, Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department and Santa Maria Police Department have been conducting a joint investigation targeting the drug trafficking activities of street gangs throughout the Central Coast of California.
"Our narcotics detectives are seeing a rise in meth use here in Santa Barbara County. But make no mistake, this is not a local problem, it's a global problem. That's why it's so important for law enforcement agencies to work together," according to Lt. Sonny LeGault of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department's narcotics bureau.
The investigation identified eight Sureno gangs involved in various criminal activities, including the distribution of narcotics. These street gangs are: West Park, North West, Tangas 13, Guadalupe 13, Nipomo 13, Oceano 13, 12th Street Locos and Colonia Chiques.
The investigation also resulted in the seizure of more than 19 pounds of methamphetamine, a methamphetamine conversion laboratory, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, small amounts of crack cocaine, 25 pounds of marijuana, 35 firearms, and $800,000 in currency and property.
The investigation concluded between July 13 and 21 with approximately 40 officers and agents from multiple law enforcement agencies conducting search warrants at 15 locations in Santa Maria, Tanglewood, San Jose and Stanton. The results were the arrest of eight individuals, and complaints are expected to be sought against eight more.
In May, more than 140 officers and agents participated in the initial enforcement phase of this investigation conducting more than 40 search warrants and arresting 29 individuals on various charges including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, street terrorism and firearms violations.
"This is the third joint investigation between the Santa Maria PD, Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department and the DEA, and it is a great example of the continued success achieved in these joint operations," according to Santa Maria PD's Sgt. Greg Carroll.