STANISLAUS COUNTY — In an effort to curb gang violence, more than 100 peace officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made their way around Stanislaus County on Wednesday on parole and probation sweeps. About 115 suspected gang members were the target of the sweep, which started at 10 a.m. and continued into the evening.
As of 8:30 p.m., law enforcement teams had conducted 89 probation and parole searches, made 27 arrests and seized nine firearms, including two assault rifles. They seized marijuana from two growing operations and 2 ounces of methamphetamine.
Officers from the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, Modesto Police Department, Stanislaus County Probation, Ceres Police Department, Turlock Police Department, Newman Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Stanislaus County district attorney's office were split into tactical teams and assigned areas of the county.
Wednesday's operation was the first of several that the agencies are planning for the spring and summer.
Authorities said the sweep was conducted because of an increase in gang-related violence the past several years. The county has continued to see a rise in gang crimes including homicides, drive-by shootings and assaults.
Drive-by shootings, specifically between Norteño and Sureño criminal street gangs, have spiked recently. Two Sureño gang members have been shot and killed in the past month, authorities say. In February, authorities said, eight Sureño gang members and associates were arrested, and a ninth is outstanding, on suspicion of killing a rival Norteño gang member.
In March, the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force led a two-day sweep that resulted in the arrest of 13 suspected members or associates of the Nuestra Familia prison gang or its street-level gang, the Norteños.
The accusations included in a federal indictment against seven men involve a suspected methamphetamine trafficking operation. State charges against the other six included murder, attempted murder, burglary and drug charges.
Investigators are asking anyone with information on crimes to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward. Tipsters can text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Just type "TIP704" along with the message.