STOCKTON -- A combined local, state and federal law enforcement task force armed with search and arrest warrants swooped down on the notorious Norteño street gang Monday morning, making seven arrests and confiscating weapons, ammunition and drugs, authorities said.
"This group was identified through Operation Ceasefire as a hyperactive gang out in our city committing violent crimes and using gun violence. When we were out at one location, neighbors actually came out and were clapping, giving our officers a thumbs up," Stockton Police Department spokesman Officer Joe Silva said.
Monday's operation was the result of an ongoing investigation into the criminal activities of the Norteño criminal street gang. Earlier this year, Silva said, one of the gang members attended a call-in as part of Operation Ceasefire.
"He heard loud and clear the message of Operation Ceasefire from clergy, the community and law enforcement, and that message is: Put down the guns, stop the shootings, stop the violence," Silva said.
"This member did not take the call-in seriously and did not spread the word to his gang, because they were the first group after the call-in that continued with the shootings in our city," Silva said.
"If you get on board and follow the program, the community and the clergy are there to help," Silva said. "But if you don't, then law enforcement is going to come in and basically drop a hammer on your head like we did today during this gang sweep."
Coordinated by the Stockton department's Gang Violence Suppression Unit, local officers partnered with Lodi and Manteca police, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, the county District Attorney's Office, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Adult Parole and Special Services Unit, the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshal's Task Force and Homeland Security. In all, about 50 officers were involved in Monday's effort.
Items seized included three semi-automatic pistols, two high-capacity magazines, one rifle, ammunition, 4 1/2 ounces of suspected methamphetamine and gang attire, officials said.
"This is just another furtherance of our commitment to give back these neighborhoods to the good citizens of Stockton," Silva said.
"It was good to see the neighbors happy. The community is fed up with the violent crime," he said.