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State, federal authorities arrest 26 suspected gang members in Bay Area; charges include 4 homicides

By Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

SAN FRANCISCO - Twenty-six suspected Sureno members and associates have been charged with serious crimes, including murder, according to Bay Area officials who Tuesday announced the arrests after a years-long law enforcement operation targeting the Southern California-based gang that has earned a reputation for violent reprisals against informants and rivals.

Known as Operation Boulevard Blues, the FBI and Concord police-led operation brought four Contra Costa homicide investigations to a close and resulted in 11 suspected Surenos facing murder and gang charges in state court. Authorities served 34 search warrants across the Bay Area in recent weeks and seized 42 guns, according to prosecutors.

The four homicides occurred in 2014-15 but were just recently solved, police said. Three were in Concord, one occurred in Antioch.

The victims include Luis Estrada, a 16-year-old boy who in November 2015 was taken to a Concord park, ambushed, and shot in the head by someone he thought was a friend, according to the criminal complaint. Police say the conspiracy to kill Estrada included his own cousin, who is accused of luring Estrada into danger that night.

Another man, 21-year-old Victor Gutierrez, was shot and killed in April 2014 by a Sureno who was out looking for rival Norteno members to shoot and used a pistol with a laser sight to gun him down, according to authorities.

Additionally, 15 suspects were brought up on federal charges, including 12 defendants charged with distributing large amounts of heroin and meth out of Concord. Another two are charged with dealing firearms without a license and another man was charged with gun possession.

 

The federal charges centered on an area of Concord along Monument Boulevard - also referred to. as "The Bully" - which has been known as a Sureno hotspot for decades.

At a Tuesday news conference, U.S. Attorney Dave Anderson said the gang had taken a shopping center on Monument and turned it into "one stop shop for guns and drugs," without trying to hide it, a fact Anderson said authorities found "particularly appalling."

"The defendants peddled their drugs in broad daylight, in public places," Anderson said.

The drug charges are based on a series of controlled purchases done by a federal confidential informant in Concord and Pleasant Hill, according to the criminal complaint. Several pounds of meth were seized, according to court records.

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