Members of Central Coast Street Gangs Named in Federal Drug Trafficking Indictments Arrested by Authorities
|FBI Los Angeles May 03, 2011|
SANTA MARIA, CA—Members of a multi-agency task force arrested 11 individuals this morning following a lengthy investigation into the drug trafficking network of two Central Coast street gangs, announced André Birotte Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California; Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; Sheriff Bill Brown, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department; Danny Macagni, Chief of Police, Santa Maria Police Department; Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara District Attorney; and Sheriff Ian Parkinson, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.
Special agents and detectives assigned to the task force conducted a year-long investigation into the drug trafficking networks by members and associates of a Lompoc-based subset of the Six Deuce Brims Bloods and the Northwest (Santa Maria) street gang, the largest Hispanic gang on the Central Coast which is affiliated with the Mexican Mafia prison gang. The investigation was initiated when local police intelligence indicated the gangs were responsible for various crimes to include narcotics dealings, firearms sales, and various violent crimes in the communities. Throughout the course of the investigation, the task force used various investigative techniques, to include controlled purchases of narcotics and weapons.
“With this morning’s arrests, we have collectively delivered a powerful message to the criminal street gangs and drug dealers who think they can operate in this region,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We will use every tool at our disposal to disrupt this criminal activity so that we can ensure the safety of the people who live and work in our neighborhoods.”
Over the past few weeks, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned five indictments that charge a total of 10 defendants with conspiracy and distributing methamphetamine. Nine of the defendants named in the federal indictments were arrested this morning without incident by task force members. One federal defendant is currently being sought by the task force. In addition to the federal defendants, two people were arrested this morning on state violations in connection with this investigation; an additional two state defendants were already in custody. The state defendants are expected to be prosecuted by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
Assistant Director Martinez said, “The task force has identified and charged significant players in the gangs’ hierarchies. The FBI and its partners are committed to seeking federal charges for the most violent street gangs and drug trafficking networks responsible for escalating violence in local communities.”
The nine federal defendants arrested this morning are:
- Freddie Sutton, 51, of Oceano, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Mike Shepherd, 50, of Santa Maria, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Christopher DeLong, 50, of Arroyo Grande, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Keshon Cole, 34, of Santa Maria, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Randy Fuston, 29, of Santa Maria, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Melvin Braddock, 40, of Santa Maria, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Eduardo Sanchez, 27, of Santa Maria, Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Jesus Buenrostro, 23, of Santa Maria, Distribution of Methamphetamine
- Sergio Godinez, 30, of Santa Maria, Distribution of Methamphetamine
“We recognize that to truly have an impact reducing crime, we need a multi-pronged approach that includes intervention and prevention efforts,” said Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown. “I appreciate the level of attention and resources we’ve received from our federal partners and I applaud the successful outcome of these lengthy investigations that culminate in the arrests of numerous suspects who have placed our communities in danger.”
“The Office of the District Attorney of Santa Barbara County is proud of its role in the multi-agency take down of numerous dangerous drug dealers and gang members in the Lompoc and Santa Maria areas. Santa Barbara County prosecutors worked in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal and state law enforcement agencies to investigate and ultimately file charges against a number of defendants. Furthermore, Santa Barbara County District Attorney investigators helped capture suspects and collect evidence. The success of this joint effort proves that through cooperation we can effectively curtail criminal organizations and deter new organizations from developing.”
San Luis Obispo Sheriff Ian Parkinson expressed his appreciation for the cooperation of his federal partners at the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office in addressing persistent gang violence through the use of effective federal tools that enable local agencies to augment resources.
The nine defendants named in the grand jury indictments who were arrested this morning are expected to be make an initial appearance in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.
Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The defendants named in the grand jury indictments face a range of mandatory minimum sentences of five to 10 years and statutory maximum sentences of 40 years to life in prison if they are convicted.
The case was jointly investigated by the by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Santa Maria Police Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.
The following agencies provided considerable assistance during this morning’s operation: California State Parole; Lompoc Police Department; Drug Enforcement Administration; San Luis Obispo Narcotics Task Force; Arroyo Grande Police Department; California Highway Patrol; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The federal defendants will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office. The state defendants will be prosecuted by the Santa Barbara County District’s Attorney’s Office.
FBI: Laura Eimiller: 310 420-6441 (cell) OR Lourdes Arocho (Spanish Speaker) 310 628-2023 (cell)
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Lesser: 310 200-2821
United States Attorney’s Office Spokesman: Thom Mrozek: 213 894-6947
Santa Maria PD: Jerel Haley: 805 928-3781, X-483
Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department: Drew Sugars: 805 681-4192
San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department: Rob Bryn: 805 781-4547