Following a three-month joint investigation by multiple state and local law enforcement agencies, 50 people were arrested this week in Stockton who are believed to be part of the notorious Norteño street gang. Officers also seized 42 weapons and 25 pounds of drugs including marijuana, fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
"Our focus is on gun violence and on those who commit violent crimes," said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones at a press conference Tuesday. He went on to say that Operation Red Ruins, which has been ongoing since August, "disrupted the very foundations of these very, very violent groups."
"There were several subsets of Norteños involved," Jones explained, saying the the city saw a "spike in violence" in the spring and early summer of 2019 when "several conflicts exploded at the same time." This followed on a quieter 2018 when Stockton saw a 40 percent reduction in violent crime.
The three-month investigation was a joint effort by the California Department of Justice, California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit, the Stockton Police Department Gang Violence Suppression Unit, and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, as KPIX reports.
Among the 50 individuals arrested, charges included attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and the possession and sale of firearms, according to the state attorney general's office.
"Thanks to a collaborative effort with the Stockton Police Department and many other law enforcement agencies, Stockton’s streets are a little bit safer tonight," said Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement. "We will continue to work with our partners to bring criminal street gangs to justice."
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar issued a statement as well saying, "Collectively, we have chosen to focus our efforts on those few among us bent on committing acts of serious violence and the enablers who assist them in doing so. Intelligence-driven prosecution and intelligence-driven policing allow us to focus on this small group of people who are responsible for the majority of the harm to our community."
As KCRA reports, Jones said that he expects more arrests will follow as the currently jailed individuals face questioning.