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Sweeping indictment charges 52 purported Surenos gang members in massive drugs, weapons conspiracy

May 10, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Sweeping indictment charges 52 purported Surenos gang members in massive drugs, weapons conspiracy

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An extensive joint investigation culminated in a series of raids early Wednesday, resulting in the arrest of dozens of purported Surenos gang members operating under the umbrella of the Mexican Mafia in California.

Authorities said the massive pre-dawn gang takedown dubbed “Operation Scrapbook” targeted the Surenos criminal street gang.

Over 500 Federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested more than 50 Sureno members and associates operating in Merced County, bringing the months-long probe to a conclusion.

The investigation concluded with a sweeping indictment against the 52 co-conspirators filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. District Court of Eastern California in Fresno, the Merced County Sun-Star reported.

The investigation targeted the local Surenos gang sects, including the Delhi Ghost Town Surenos, Willow Street Bonsallo Locos Surenos, A-Town Locs, Los Primos, Planet Sur Trece, Winton Vario Parque, Territorio Sur Trece, and South Side Locs, according to the 99–page complaint.

One of the 52 gang members apprehended during Wednesday’s operation

The indictment charges two men at the head of the conspiracy identified as 22-year-old Robert “Bubba” Guthrie and 28-year-old Andres Corona Prado, with drug and arms trafficking, unlawfully possessing firearms, conspiracy and more.

Prosecutors named nine additional people as defendants in the complaint.

The U.S. Attorney accuses Guthrie and Prado of making large-scale drugs and guns purchases from gang members.

Over the course of the months-long probe, federal authorities gathered wiretapped conversations and an intercepted a package at a post office containing a Teddy bear full of methamphetamine.

The raids on Wednesday were similar to a previous case in 2015 dubbed Operation Red Right Hand, which targeted Norteno gangs in Merced County.

The operation allowed an influx of Surenos sects, which have since operated in more of a brazen fashion in typically Norteno territory strong-holds.” the complaint says.

According to federal prosecutors, the Surenos gang in Merced County, specifically the A-Town Locs, which is the gang Guthrie maintains influence, began collaborating closer with the Mexican Mafia.

“This restructuring of the Sureno criminal street gangs and aligning together has allowed the Sureno criminal street gangs in Merced County to become more organized, powerful and to generate money for the Mexican Mafia,” prosecutors wrote in the complaint.

A man is taken into custody during Wednesday morning’s raids throughout Merced County. (Andrew Kuhn)

Federal investigators named Guthrie as a person of interest early in the investigation, the Sun-Star reported.

“He’s a walking billboard for A-Town, He’s the guy who sits back and has people do things for him. That’s the worst kind of criminal,” Merced Police Sgt. Rod Court, who is part of the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement unit told the Sun-Star.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said that SWAT teams from Merced, Clovis, and Fresno along with FBI agents began making arrests around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.

More than 500 law enforcement officials from the FBI, the state Department of Justice, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, local police departments and more descended about 6 a.m. Wednesday on multiple communities, primarily in Atwater and Winton, to serve search warrants and make arrests.

Officers executed 47 search warrants and 51 arrest warrants during the operation.

Authorities also seized 50 firearms, 21,000 rounds of ammo along with a significant amount of drugs and cash, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

“Today we decided to rain on the Sureno parade,” Warnke told the Sun-Star. “There’s some pretty nasty stuff that came out of this.”

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