Hundreds of officers take down Tulare County gang in massive operation

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Law enforcement officials say they've taken a northern Tulare County street gang out of commission.

Hundreds of officers teamed up to take dozens of suspects into custody early on Thursday morning.

Nearly 300 law enforcement officers from around the Central Valley, along with DEA and FBI agents, served search and arrest warrants before the sun came up.

As a result, Tulare County's sheriff says a Norteno gang has been dismantled.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux says the towns of Cutler and Orosi are now safer, after the arrests of the 25 Norteno gang members.

He says the suspects, which include two teens, sold guns and drugs, were involved in robberies and home invasions and carried out at least 30 drive-by shootings.

"These violent gang members, they bring drugs into our communities, and into our towns. They're the cause of havoc and terror amongst the law-abiding people who live here. These criminals are poisoning the minds of our children," says Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

Authorities say the investigation intensified after a drive-by shooting in Seville last September.

Two people were shot, including an 8-year-old girl.

Jorge Barajas is the suspected shooter.

"We believe he was targeting another gang, and unfortunately, during that act, an 8-year-old almost lost her life," says Lt. Joe Torres.

Like Barajas, Edward Moran was also arrested.

He's believed to be the gang's main leader.

But mug shots weren't the only items on display during Thursday's press conference.

Officers seized numerous weapons from the gang members, including assault rifles and even a grenade.

They also recovered two stolen cars, and some meth, marijuana, and heroin.

"I want to say that we're not done. We know that there's more street violence out there. We know that more gangs exist. And as you can see, with the collaborative partnerships that are up before me today, this is not something that will end today. We will continue our efforts to make our streets as safe as we possibly can," says Boudreaux.

Boudreaux says no law enforcement officers or suspects were hurt during Thursday's operation.

He adds this investigation could lead to more information related to past homicides or planned homicides.
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