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San Diego gangs busted for illegal weapons, murder, arson

Posted: May 4, 2009 10:59 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2009 1:00 p.m.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced the culmination of a six-month, multi-agency undercover operation yesterday, resulting in the arrest of 21 suspects and the recovery of 44 firearms from local gang members.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Stampede, began in December 2008, and involved agents and officers from ATF, the San Diego Police Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Border Patrol, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, San Diego County Probation Office, and the San Diego District Attorney's Office.

The investigation targeted violent San Diego gang members that engaged in homicides, robberies, firearms trafficking and assaults.

"We are pleased with the outcome of this investigation; today's arrests of these violent gang members exemplify the success of ATF's partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies," said John A. Torres, special agent in charge, ATF, Los Angeles Field Division.

"Even though the economy may be tough, the public can rest assured that ATF will always have the resources to purchase firearms from illegal traffickers and put violent offenders behind bars," added Torres.

Yesterday's early morning operation began with teams serving five separate search warrants and 13 arrest warrants. The searches turned up 14 firearms, ammunition and a home used to grow marijuana.

Throughout the investigation ATF purchased 30 firearms including high-caliber weapons and sawed-off shotguns. Some of these firearms were sold to persons purporting to traffic them to Mexico.

Three suspects have been charged federally with illegally selling and possessing firearms. Three homicide cases have also been solved as a result of this operation, with at least one other still being investigated.

Two suspects of the investigation were also charged with arson related crimes.


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