California authorities Friday announced the arrest of 47 suspected gang members accused of drive-by shootings, murder, assaults and funding their illicit activities in the Central Valley through prostitution rings and the sale of guns and narcotics.
A five-month investigation into violent criminal street gangs in Fresno County culminated Thursday with a “massive takedown” by 200 law enforcement personnel, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and 25 SWAT teams, said Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama.
The arrests include 17 related to human trafficking and pimping, the California Department of Justice said in a statement. Dozens of firearms were seized.
The gang members targeted in the operation were linked to a half dozen murders, dozen of shootings and criminal acts and showed “no regard for human life,” Balderrama said at a news conference alongside California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
He said several shootings were prevented because of the investigation, including two planned “mass shootings” on April 2 and April 11 at a Fresno bar, when police flooded the area.
“We know they called it off because we were there,” Balderrama said. He did not provide other details.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp told reporters that the gang members, who were both male and female, bought guns, expensive cars and jewelry with money made by forcing women into sex trafficking, then used the money to post bond for other gang members to get out of jail.
“Fresno is going to keep fighting this madness and today is a shining example of our resolve. Today is a day for the good guys to celebrate,” she said.