Twelve local and federal law enforcement agencies busted several members of a notorious gang in eastern and central Contra Costa County last week, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.
In total, 24 suspects believed to be in the Norteno gang have been arrested for a variety of crimes, including attempted murder, human trafficking and drug sales. All were arrested in a series of raids across the county on Aug. 3.
The investigation grew from Concord police looking into an uptick in violence in the city about a year ago. It quickly expanded to encompass a wide array of regional gang activity and culminated in last week's arrests, police said.
Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger said at a news conference in Martinez Wednesday that he guarantees all arrested were involved in violence. The Norteno gang "gets its profits from preying on our community," Swanger said.
Officials called it one of the biggest operations in the county in years, not only because of the number of suspects involved, but also because of the broad collaboration between multiple law enforcement agencies.
Officers from the FBI, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, the Contra Costa County Probation Department, the California Highway Patrol, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives were all involved, along with police from Concord, Pittsburg, Antioch, Richmond and El Cerrito.
To prevent gang members from being tipped off, the Aug. 3 raid involved between 250 and 300 police officers hitting roughly 21 East Bay locations simultaneously.
They searched houses in Antioch, Concord, Pittsburg, Bay Point and elsewhere, seized 18 guns, large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin, broke up two marijuana growing operations and seized a Mercedes-Benz, a Porsche and a boat believed to have been purchased through illegal gains as well as $15,000 in cash.
Among the 24 suspects, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari identified the two leaders of the gang as Sean Dunne, 31, and Mariano Coronado, 28.
DeFerrari said there are an estimated 75 to 100 Norteno gang members in Contra Costa County. With last week's arrests, he said as much as half of the gang could be behind bars now since an estimated 10 to 15 members are already in custody.
Charges have already been filed for all suspects, he said, including attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon, human trafficking, pimping, witness intimidation, and drug sales.
The suspects are "involved in everything from drug sales to pimping and pandering as well as some human trafficking," DeFerrari said.
Authorities believe some of the suspects are also linked to a string of highway shootings that have drawn concern in the East Bay since late last year, but did not offer specifics. None of the charges filed after the Aug. 3 raid were related to the more than two dozen shootings.