Grand jury indicts top suspects in major Tulare County gang crackdown for murder

VISALIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- The string of violent crimes alleged to have been committed by the Norteno gang includes at least four murders and dozens of other crimes.

"It's a network of individuals that conspired together to commit crimes that involved narcotics, movement of firearms, and then really planning out different types of violent crime to further the benefit of the criminal street gangs," said Jason Salazar, Visalia Police Chief.

Salazar joined Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward and Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil in announcing major progress in going after the gang members

"Dismantled might be the wrong word, but disrupted, heavily disrupted," said Kroutil.

Forty of the 80 arrested last year are already in prison, the longest sentence was 20 years, and 11 others were just indicted by a county grand jury. They just appeared in court and are awaiting trials, four of the 11 face murder charges in connection with the shooting death of a Visalia man found dead in the street last year.

While operation Red Sol has been big, Ward acknowledges the battle against gangs is far from over.

"This is not in any way time for rest or conclusion. Another 20 suspects in this one crackdown are still expected to be charged and brought to justice."

All of the crimes the Norteno gang members are alleged to have been involved in took place between August and October of last year.

The cases could take at least another year or more to wind through the court system.
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