TASK FORCE ARRESTS 22 GANG MEMBERS IN "OPERATION VALLEY STAR"
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Twenty-two known Nuestra Familia/Nuestra Raza/Northern Structure/Norteno gang members and associates have been nabbed as a result of a nearly two year investigation by the Stockton Violent Crimes Task Force (SVCTF), a FBI-led Safe Streets Task Force which consists of agents from the FBI and officers from the Stockton Police Department and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The Task Force also had assistance from the San Joaquin County Metro Narcotics Task Force comprised of officers from the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Manteca Police Department.
Other agencies assisting included the Merced County Sheriff's Office, Los Banos Police Department, the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.
Federal arrest warrants within the Eastern District of California were executed in Stockton, Hanford, Merced, Los Banos, Orangevale, Dos Palos and Manteca. Additional investigation and arrests of Nuestra Familia/Nuestra Raza/Northern Structure/Norteno gang members and associates were made in San Francisco, Castroville, Salinas, Greenfield, Petaluma, and Fremont by the North Central Coast Gang Task Force with assistance from the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, Salinas Police Department, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, Watsonville Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, Fremont Police Department Petaluma Police Department, Capitola Police Department and Marina Police Department.
One individual was arrested by the Los Angeles Division of the FBI in Moreno Valley. Federal search warrants were executed in eight locations within the Eastern District of California, nine within the Northern District of California and one within the Central District of California.
The investigation focused on the Mario Diaz drug trafficking organization whose members are presently involved in the distribution of large amounts of illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy, throughout the Eastern and Northern Districts of California with supply lines from Mexico and distribution channels reaching to eastern cities, to include Warren, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia.
The Diaz organization operates under the umbrella of Nuestra Familia, a violent Hispanic prison gang based within the California prison system whose members exert control over street-level Norteno gang members engaged in drug trafficking and violent crime. Diaz and Manuel Gauna were arrested in Stockton on 5/26/07 in possession of approximately 11.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and have since been formally charged in a federal indictment.
The individuals arrested based on federal criminal complaints and indictments were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy.
In partnership with local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies, the FBI maintains 134 Safe Streets task forces to address the violent gang problem throughout the United States by aggressively investigating, disrupting and dismantling violent street gangs, criminal motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs.
The defendants made their initial appearance last week at the United States federal courthouse in Fresno and Sacramento.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.